Miss Universe in Jail
Creative Producing Lab
A community of gay inmates gains a sense of freedom regarding their sexuality while confined inside the jail— a freedom the queer filmmaker himself does not experience in the free world.
The Pampanga Provincial Jail (PPJ) was built in the Philippines more than a century ago. It currently houses more than 2,500 inmates. Forty of these inmates are part of the Gay Inmates Organization, a group created to offer the members of the LGBT community a space for support to encourage diversity and stop discrimination.
These inmates claim to feel freer inside the jail than they did outside. Inside the jail, they hold important positions, and they are respected among their peers.
As the director, Max, follows the lives of these inmates, he realizes that he does not feel the same form of acceptance and freedom even though he is the one in the supposed "free world."
We will follow the lives of these gay inmates – their day-to-day activities, the stories about their heterosexual boyfriends, the jail marriages with their partners, the gossip, the jealousy, the family that barely visits them, and sometimes the frustration about their cases. All of these stories culminate towards the most exciting and most celebrated event inside the jail: An annual gay beauty pageant that is supported and funded by all the inmates.
As we follow their lives, we also follow the filmmaker's story as an imprisoned character in the free world. The narrative interweaves both stories to better depict the contrast. As he interacts with them, he learns more about himself and how restricted he really feels. So as the beauty pageant happens, the winners are crowned and the inmates celebrate their sexuality... will the filmmaker learn to celebrate his?
About the Participating Producer
Josef is a filmmaker from the Philippines. Her first short film, Please Stop Talking, was part of the 29th Singapore International Film Festival. She also recently won the Zonta Leipzig-Elster Talent Development Prize during Dok Leipzig’s Dok Co-Pro Market for the documentary-in-progress, Miss Universe in Jail.
She has produced short films screened during CinemaOne Originals Film Festival, and Salamindanaw Asian Film Festival, among others. She is a member of DoQ, an organization based in the Philippines that surfaces under-the-radar documentaries through screenings and discussions.