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Courtesy of Participant Media/Sony Pictures Classics

October 22, 2017

Preview: A Fantastic Woman

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“Saying goodbye to a loved one when he dies is a basic human right, isn’t it?”

Directed by Sebastián Lelio,  A Fantastic Woman  (Una mujer fantástica) depicts an enigmatic and spirited transgender heroine, Marina, who unexpectedly lost her 20-years-older lover Orlando, and recounts the struggles and the precarious circumstances that she faced after Orlando’s sudden death.

A Fantastic Woman premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February of this year. It quickly gained a lot of international acclaim, as the film was not only nominated to compete for the Golden Bear in the main competition section of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, but also selected as the Chilean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards. The Argentinian-born Chilean director, Sebastián Lelio, of the films The Sacred Family (2005), Christmas (2009), The Year of the Tiger (2011), Gloria (2013) and Disobedience (2017), plotted the story with Gonzalo Maza this time, and won Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival. A Fantastic Woman stars Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Aline Küppenheim and Nicolás Saavedra.

Played by Daniela Vega, the transgender actress, Marina is a young waitress and aspiring singer, who is in a love relationship with the 57 year old printing press owner Orlando. However, one night, Orlando falls down the stairs due to his aneurysm and passes away, as Marina takes him to the hospital. After he dies suddenly, Marina’s life seems to begin falling apart. Albeit the fact that Marina doesn’t really care about Orlando’s demise, the vicious family of Orlando, including his son and ex-wife, as well as the intrusive detective from the Sexual Offenses Investigation Unit, all force Marina not to come to Orlando’s funeral and show her no respect.

This attention-deserving film centers on transgender storytelling, and is definitely worthwhile to see at a time when the transgender community is facing renewed challenges of oppression and hate in the U.S. and abroad. While the visibility of and understanding toward transgender people is increasing in mainstream culture, the majority of transgender people still experience severe discrimination, stigma and systemic inequality, which include the lack of legal protection, barriers to healthcare and anti-transgender violence, according to the Human Rights Campaign. A Fantastic Woman made a good call on revealing the transfer community’s universal struggles through the lens of a complex, yet strong human being, Marina.

Sony Classics has announced to release A Fantastic Woman in selected US movie theaters starting on November 17 this fall.

Nicole Yan is a sophomore in the College of Art, Architecture and Planning. She can be reached at xy286@cornell.edu.