Running Time: 79 min

Robert James



Winner: Best Documentary
Calcutta International Cult Film Festival

Corpus Arts
Meet Rumi Missabu, a self-described “seminal cult figure,” chain-smoking raconteur, and founding member of San Francisco’s legendary hippie-era drag performance ensemble, the Cockettes. This wildly imaginative documentary recounts Rumi’s life, from his abusive childhood through his decade-spanning career as an influential queer singer and theater artist. Now in his 70s, Rumi looks back without regret, even when he’s laughingly discussing his own mortality.

The documentary features loving, and sometimes lurid, tributes by a host of luminaries, including gay photojournalist Dan Nicoletta, Obie-winning queer performance artist Taylor Mac, and Cindy Williams, star of the 1970s TV classic, LAVERNE & SHIRLEY. Award-winning documentarian James stages fantastical transitions and animated sequences. He re-imagines three of Rumi’s most intimate relationships as vintage sitcomes, and he employs wide-ranging theater clips from 1960s “happenings” to puppet shows. In short, he bends genres as avidly and playfully as Rumi bends gender! It’s a fitting, life-affirming tribute to a one-of-a-kind queer elder.
— Frank Danay