Chile wins its first foreign language film Oscar led by Daniela Vega.
March 5, 2018 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Daniela Vega starred in 'A Fantastic Woman' (Una Mujer Fantástica) the first Chilean feature length film to win an Oscar (and the second award overall for the country after Historia de un Oso won for best animated short). She was also the first openly transgender presenter at the Oscars. This comes as the Chilean senate might be close to approving a Gender Identity Law which would allow her to have her ID card and passport show her actual gender and name. She's fierce, outspoken and takes no shit.
posted by signal (17 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
holy crap I had no idea what this movie was even about. I just saw like 50 posters plastered up at Alamo Drafthouse last week, made a mental note to look it up and then totally spaced it.

Hell yeah!
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:50 AM on March 5, 2018

An issue with her statement in the last link: Transgender women are specifically and negatively associated with sex work because that's the narrative we've been fed. It's "shocking" and funny. It was a go-to joke for Hollywood screenwriters from the get-go. I'm not angry at her for reinforcing this narrative, nor for casually reinforcing negative associations about professional sex work (and hairdressing?). Popular culture and Transphobic rhetoric are powerful forces to reckon with. It's almost impossible to find a discussion in the MSM about Transgender women without someone insisting that genitals or sexuality be discussed as well. I'm not saying it shouldn't ever be discussed, but it doesn't ALWAYS need to be. I just grind my teeth about another missed opportunity towards fixing that narrative and another reminder of how hard it will be to do so.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:23 AM on March 5, 2018

I read that comment as her talking about her experiences in Chile?

I mean, Janet mock talks at huge length about being a sex worker in redefining realness. Tangerine is about black trans women sex workers. I just kind of figured outside my own white version of being trans that sex work is prevalent and needs to be discussed.

I personally don’t feel threatened or diminished by other trans people talking about the realities they face, but I can certainly understand why and how other people do feel that way and I have compassion for that.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:44 AM on March 5, 2018

I found it interesting the domestic trailer doesn't mention she's trans but the international trailer makes it very clear.
posted by ikea_femme at 10:55 AM on March 5, 2018

Also, there's a lot of trans women sex workers for a ton of reasons, including the fact that discrimination makes employment difficult. It's reality, and I don't think it's shameful to be a sex worker or that it's a good road to say that makes us trans women less respectable.
posted by ikea_femme at 10:58 AM on March 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

The way I read it when she says “There are still very few trans people who work in something that is not ‘the night’. Or hairdressing", she's responding to 'Have attitudes changed in Chile as well?', and by 'the night', she's not necessarily referring prostitution but rather (or also) working in clubs, nightclubs and burlesques, etc. I don't think she is talking about stereotypes or perception as much as her actual lived experience in a very socially conservative and repressed country like Chile.
posted by signal at 11:00 AM on March 5, 2018

Also, I very much loved the film. I'm glad it's a movie about a trans woman as she exists in society, and that it isn't sensationalistic about the process of transition. Trans women are so much more than the process we go through to feel congruent.
posted by ikea_femme at 11:31 AM on March 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

It was an opportunity to remind us that a lot of Transgender women also have advanced degrees and make really good parents, yet the focus remains on the supposed and constantly reinforced "undesirsble" aspects of being Transgender. Transgender women are actually LESS likely to engage in professional sex work when compared to cis women. And of course her individual experiences shouldn't be discounted. I don't mean to specifically critique her advocacy, but I did grind my teeth in frustration.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:33 AM on March 5, 2018

I mean, I'm a software engineer and a trans woman. I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm white and in liberal New England. Lots of trans women aren't so lucky, and I don't know what it's like to be trans in Chile.
posted by ikea_femme at 11:52 AM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Im not as offended that people assume I’m a sex worker as I am frustrated that sex work is stigmatised so much that even being mistakenly perceived as a sex worker is dangerous
posted by yaymukund at 4:07 PM on March 5, 2018

Anyway, I haven’t seen this film yet but looking forward to it! it’s a bold move to cast a trans woman as a trans woman
posted by yaymukund at 4:10 PM on March 5, 2018

I'm looking forward to seeing this.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:17 PM on March 5, 2018

A Fantastic Woman Fails to Reckon With Its Transgender Lead by WILLOW MACLAY (a trans film critic) addresses some of the film's failures better than I could.

I wanted to like it but it is such a confounding retread of the director's and lead actor's previous work that does nothing with the potential there beyond scoring representational wins with what is ultimately female stereotypes populating and revolving around male fantasy.

(my phrasing is more vague than I would like, to avoid spoilers, but these problems are mostly a result of its male directors and writers. Mostly.)
posted by seraphine at 3:53 AM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

wow! that is a great (scathing) review, seraphine. thank you for sharing
posted by yaymukund at 7:31 AM on March 6, 2018

> anem0ne: "As far as the review, while I understand the point, I also worry about using an American frame of reference regarding a Chilean film?"

Very much so. It says, for example: "in the real world, the kind of transphobia present in A Fantastic Woman isn’t common" whereas Vega has explicitly said that she has had experiences similar to those in the movie.
posted by signal at 12:47 PM on March 6, 2018

I'm reading that review and thinking to myself that the world needs trans writers writing trans characters for a spell to help "Set the frame" for cis writers to get better at it.

I'm writing a screenplay with two trans characters in it and how they "are" is a subtlety in the film, a wrinkle, a hint of dialog, something that is a big fucking deal for trans audiences but perhaps almost missed entirely by cis ones. Hints, clues, fragments, small cuts.
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:58 PM on March 6, 2018

I just can't understand Maclay's assertion that the film is effectively Oscar-bait, structured purely to drum up sympathy for its minority lead. I feel like she occludes how much of the film is about dealing with loss, grief and moving on. To me, its exploration of these themes was spellbinding and timeless, and really felt shaded with a queer understanding, even if perhaps not specifically a trans one.
posted by Panthalassa at 3:33 PM on March 6, 2018

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