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HomeAwardsBest Foreign Film Nominee – Fantastic Woman

Best Foreign Film Nominee – Fantastic Woman


Daniela Vega as Marina on location.
Daniela Vega as Marina in A Fantastic Woman








From the producers of Jackie and Spotlight, comes A Fantastic Woman, the fifth film from Chilean writer/director Sebastián Lelio. The much lauded movie was an official selection for the 2017 Telluride and Toronto International Film Festivals.

The director is mostly noted for his fourth feature film, Gloria, which previously represented Chile at the Academy Awards and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. Lelio noted, “I see A Fantastic Woman as a film of aesthetic splendor, narrative vigor, tension, emotion; polytonal, multi-experiential, and multi-emotional. It’s a film about celebration and examination.”

Director Sebastián Lelio (left) with Daniela Vega (right).
Director Sebastian Lelio with Daniela Vega

A Fantastic Woman brings us into the everyday life of Marina Vidal, a transgender waitress and aspiring singer. Marina Vidal is played by Chilean actress and singer, Daniela Vega. After Marina’s lover Orlando (Francisco Reyes), who is 20 years older than she suddenly becomes ill and is rushed to the hospital, all eyes point to Marina as they become suspicious of Orlando’s death. A detective soon visits Marina at her restaurant to investigate the matter. Simultaneously, Orlando’s son decides to take her dog and apartment away from her. Marina is further conflicted in attending Orlando’s funeral as his ex-wife forbids her from attending. In the first half of the film, Marina’s identity is very subtle as the gender topic isn’t blatantly stated, but hints are sprinkled throughout the story, such as how she keeps telling people her name is Marina. As the film unfurls, the gender transformation is slowly revealed on screen.

The director methodically steers the audience to become emotionally invested in Marina’s unique situation and we empathize with her. Lelio elucidated, “They will see a human being who constantly changes before their eyes, who flows, vibrates, and modifies herself. But what they are seeing isn’t precisely what they are seeing, and this condition turns Marina into a vortex that attracts the viewer’s fantasy and desire, inviting them to explore the limits of their own empathy.”

Conceptually, creating a film of this profundity involves complicated intricacies. During the writing process, the transgender concept was a misunderstood perception that wasn’t very widespread until recently as it has been a focal point in the media. The film is also multi-facetted as it portrays romance, fantasy, reality, and identity. Lelio illuminated, “The identity of the film itself fluctuates. It doesn’t set, it doesn’t stop, and it refuses to be reduced to one single thing. The fact that it can’t be explained in a single way is perhaps one of A Fantastic Woman’s most contemporary aspects.”

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