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Laura Blum

Laura is a festival correspondent covering films and the festival circuit for She also publishes on Thalo



"A Fantastic Woman": Interview with Director Sebastián Lelio

Forget “character is destiny.” A Fantastic Woman goes one better: character as aesthetic destiny. With a trans actress playing a trans woman, the challenge for filmmaker Sebastián Lelio was to unfold “a being in flux” in both form and content. His solution? A hybrid work that encompasses elements of romance, mystery, fantasy, musical and social exposé. Punsters will appreciate that the Spanish word genero means both “gender” and “genre,” just as the film itself can be called transgender and transgenre. 

The title A Fantastic Woman also plays on its words. It references the fabulousness of daytime waitress and after-hours singer Marina Vidal (Daniela Vega) as well as her projected identy as a construct of her beholders’ imaginations. And that’s not just because she’s a trans woman who triggers diverse emotions about her transformation, even within herself. The double entendre slips past the surface narrative and into murkier depths.

“The film is a game of resonances,” affirms Lelio during our recent sit down in New York. As soon as the Chilean director enters the room, his high-voltage eyes invoke the escape clause of cinema. Everything is illumination to this romantic visionary; he speaks deliberately but passionately, as if channeling revelation from beyond.

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