Legendary criminal. Proud homosexual. Cabaret star. Passionate lover. Killer. Devoted father of seven adopted children. Saint…or devil?
Born to slaves in the arid wasteland of Northern Brazil and sold by his mother at the age of seven, João Francisco pursued his freedom on the mean streets of Lapa, Rio de Janeiro. Jet-black, six feet tall, with solid muscle bursting through a silk shirt and tight pants - a cut throat razor in his back pocket.
From a run-down boarding house in the heart of Lapa he shares his world with Laurita prostitute and 'wife'; Firmina, Laurita's daughter; and Taboo, accomplice in petty crimes and "slave". The patriarch of this selected "family", João Francisco is well acquainted with the local underworld: he is on good terms with Amador, owner of the Blue Danube bar, where prostitution, drugs and police corruption run wild.
Karim Aïnouz's extraordinary portrait of the triumphs and tragedy of this explosive and paradoxical personality unfolds against the vibrant, sordid background of Lapa: thronging underworld of pimps and whores, of cut-throats, queers and artists, of dark bars and brothels thick with smoke, drenched in sweat and cheap perfume. A world run through with violence and raw desire, Where desperate dreams spring from poverty and squalor.Madame Sata is inspired by the legends and myths built around the real life character Joao Francisco dos Santos (1900-1976), also known as Madame Sata.