Combining superstar bio and social history, this entertaining doco follows drag queen Panti Bliss as she rises from ‘giant cartoon woman’ to fearless activist in the hard-fought campaign for same-sex marriage in Ireland.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
Irish drag queen Panti Bliss and her alter ego Rory O’Neill were catapulted in 2014 from the entertainment fringe to the centre of political turmoil. After O’Neill spoke about routine homophobia in mainstream media on a TV current affairs show, the wrath of conservative Ireland descended. When the craven national broadcaster rushed to placate the commentators he’d named, O’Neill made sure the world knew about it: Panti’s subsequent speech at the Abbey Theatre is one of the great public orations of the century so far. It became a rallying point for the campaign for same-sex marriage in Ireland.
Documentarian Conor Horgan had long been on Panti’s case, already filming this documentary for several years. It’s easy to see why. The film begins as a classic caterpillar-to-butterfly drag queen bio, but expands into a richly peopled and deeply considered account of cultural change in Ireland. Panti’s homecoming stand-up show may make this the one political documentary this year that leaves its audience crying through tears of laughter.
“In the brighter tomorrow that Rory O’Neill/Panti has helped us forge, we hope they’ll screen The Queen of Ireland in schools.” — Tara Brady, Irish Times