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The first trailer has been unveiled for Luke Willis’ documentary “Lady Like,” which will have its world premiere as the closing film of BFI Flare London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival.

The film follows the story of London-born, San Francisco-based drag queen Lady Camden, AKA Rex Wheeler, as she is catapulted into the spotlight on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 14. Lady Camden struggles to manage the demands of her new international fame, while Rex is forced to come to terms with the troubling childhood he left behind in Camden which drove him to so desperately seek joy, fantasy and escape through the performing arts.

“Lady Like” is the first feature film by Willis, whose previous credits include shorts “Pool Boy” and “The Summer House,” both selected at previous BFI Flare editions. Willis produced the film along with Cookie Walukas (“Saleh and the Spades”).

“I still remember the  first time I met Rex and his infectiously joyful energy. I remember even more the first time I saw Lady Camden. I did not realize at first she and Rex were one in the same, but I instantly recognized that spark that I had seen in Rex and realized this was no average drag queen,” Willis says in the director’s statement.

“As I got to know Rex and Lady Camden through our collaborations together, I realized we had more in common than I first suspected. Like Rex, I had a rough upbringing as a gay boy growing up in the Deep South who had to deal with the trauma of substance abuse, domestic violence and mental illness in my family.  It was a confusing and difficult childhood until I found my sanctuary in the  theater – just like Rex. The theater, and eventually the fantastical world of the ballet, saved me and so many others like me and Rex. It wasn’t just an escape but it gave us purpose, hope and community,” Willis added.

“When Rex and I started working together we bonded quickly over our shared experience as ballet dancers and even more over our shared aesthetic for elevated fantastical storytelling that sparkles and shimmers with magical other worldliness. It was during our work on the short film that premiered on Nowness in 2022, ‘I Don’t Need a Reason,’ that I discovered Rex’s story went so much deeper than just being a talented performer. I realized Lady Camden doesn’t create fantasy, beauty, and joy because she wants to, but because she needs to. That was the moment I decided to begin “Lady Like,” Wilson said.

“The past three years of making art that celebrates crazy fun campy queer joy with Lady Camden has been some of the funnest stuff I‘ve made as a filmmaker. We have created a steady string of short films, music videos, live shows, social videos and now a feature documentary. What will we come up with next? You’ll just have to wait and see,” Wilson added.

BFI Flare unspools March 13 – 24 at London’s BFI Southbank and on streamer BFI Player.

Watch the trailer here:

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