During the celebration of the 90th Academy Award last Sunday, ‘Una Mujer Fantástica’ (‘A Fantastic Woman’), was awarded the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The film, which won the 31st TEDDY AWARD for best feature in 2017, is the work of Chilean director Sebastián Lelio. The Academy Award for a non-English speaking film has been given away since 1956 and ‘A Fantastic Woman’ is a landmark recipient in a number of respects; it’s the first first Chilean film to win the foreign-language Oscar, the first film with a trans themed plot to take home the prize, and lead actor Daniela Vega is the first openly transgender person to present an award on stage at the ceremony. Sebastián Lelio praised Daniela Vega as “the inspiration for this movie”.
The story follows Marina (Daniela Vega), a transgender woman working as a waitress, who has a loving relationship with Orlando (Francisco Reyes), a divorced man 30 years her senior. Their affectionate love is brought to an abrupt end on the day of Orlando’s sudden death. In the aftermath of this tragedy, Marina is faced with the hatred of Orlando’s ex-wife and children. She fights simultaneously for her right to mourn her beloved one and against the prejudices and harassment from her late lover’s family. The film not only gives a sensitive portrayal of the universal right to grieve but also tells the intimate story of a trans women in today’s conservative Chile. On a broader level, the film highlights the transphobia and ignorance constituting every-day life for many transgender people around the world. Few would be able to leave the cinema unmoved by this touching story of love and loss.
To learn more about the film, have a look at our interview with director Sebastián Lelio and lead actors Daniela Vega and FranciscoReyes: