- 08 Feb 18
Oscar-nominated director Sebastian Lelio talks about casting a trans person in his new movie, A Fantastic Woman, and what he learned about combating prejudice from growing up in Pinochet’s Chile
Sebastian Lelio, the respected Argentinian-Chilean director, has a new prefix: Oscar-nominated. He received the nod for A Fantastic Woman, an exploration of identity and self-image. The movie stars trans-actress and singer Daniela Vega as Marina, who faces bigotry and suspicion after her older boyfriend dies. A Fantastic Woman is a complex exploration of the experiences of trans people, still hugely underrepresented in cinema and pop culture.
Lelio has always been drawn to the stories not told. He grew up in Chile during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and the systematic suppression of political views, parties and artistic expression. “I studied journalism for a year, but I was dying to start making films,” he says. “Back then, the film schools were opening again after 20 years of dictatorship… I convinced them to let me go to one of the film schools opening back then.”
The film charts the microaggressions and small violences trans people face everyday. Vega’s character Marina is misgendered, called a “perversion,” accused of being a sex worker, subjected to humiliating strip searches and harrassed by civilians, doctors and the police.