×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Magnolia, Duplass Brothers Launch First Oscar Campaign for Transgender Actresses (EXCLUSIVE)

Tangerine,” Sean Baker’s Sundance darling about two transgender prostitutes on a Christmas Eve jaunt through Los Angeles, might not seem like your typical Oscar movie. But against the backdrop of the Emmys recognizing Laverne Cox’s performance in “Orange is the New Black” in 2014, Magnolia Pictures and the Duplass brothers, who produced “Tangerine,” are launching an Oscar campaign for the indie, Variety has learned. It’s the first time a movie distributor has ever backed an awards season push for a transgender actress in Hollywood history.

In fact, “Tangerine” features two breakout transgender stars. Magnolia will be trumpeting newcomer Kitana Kiki Rodriguez in the best actress category and Mya Taylor, who Baker met at a LGBT center just as she was transitioning, for best supporting actress.

The scrappy campaign — which is forgoing traditional “For Your Consideration” advertising — will officially kick off on Tuesday night, during an Academy conversation with the Duplass brothers, where Jay and Mark will show a clip from the film. Magnolia plans on sending “Tangerine” screeners to the actors branch of the Academy, as well as cinematographers (the movie was shot on an iPhone 5s) and screenwriters, in a bid to gain heat for the script, which Baker developed with his actresses and co-writer Chris Bergoch.

“Jay and I are new to the Academy, so we’re just figuring this whole thing out,” Mark Duplass tells Variety. “One thing that has become apparent to us as we look at this stuff, it seems that the TV Academy has embraced what’s happening in the trans movement with ‘Transparent’ and ‘Orange is the New Black.’ We feel that the film Academy is a little behind on that front.”

Although movie characters who are transgender have been rewarded with Oscar nominations, including Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club,” Hilary Swank in “Boys Don’t Cry” and Felicity Huffman in “Transamerica,” all the actors behind these performances are cisgender. “This is the time for it,” Duplass says of the Academy nominating a transgender actor for playing a transgender part. “We’re in the middle of a civil rights movement.”

Adds Eamonn Bowles, the president of Magnolia Pictures, which acquired “Tangerine” out of Sundance in January: “The trans aspect will undoubtedly garner the film attention, but frankly the best strategy is to get as many voters to see it as possible,” he says. “It stands alone among the contenders in its tone, aspirations and achievement.”

When “Tangerine” opened in July in limited release, it received strong reviews, despite a box office tally of only $700,000. The Duplass brothers hope to get the word out for “Tangerine” by inviting friends to tastemaker screenings in Los Angeles and New York, starting in November. Jay also has close ties with Hollywood’s transgender artists through his role as the son on Amazon Studios’ “Transparent.” “We’re in this community of filmmakers who share movies,” Mark says. “When we find a movie that we love, we share it with them. We haven’t done that inside the Academy yet. But Jay and I will do a lot of the legwork ourselves — ‘Hey, we love this movie. We think it’s special. Will you watch it and show it to your friends?'”

Mark thinks it’s only a matter of time before the Oscars recognize a transgender actor. “Maybe we’re not the first one to get a trans actor nominated,” he says. “It’s not a loss if we don’t. This is a long play in our minds.”

More Film

  • Berlin: Edko Films Picks up Zhang

    Berlin: Edko Films Picks up Zhang Yimou’s ‘One Second’

    Hong Kong studio Edko Films has picked up international rights to “One Second,” the newest movie by top Chinese director Zhang Yimou. The film will have its world premiere in competition in Berlin, it was announced this week. “One Second” is pitched as Zhang’s personal love letter to cinema, and as a return to his [...]

  • Sygeplejeskolen sc 205

    Claudia Boderke, Lars Mering Talk ‘The New Nurses,’ Gender, Class

    The inevitable comparison for SF Studios’ “The New Nurses,” at least from a Danish broadcast perspective, is “Something’s Rockin,’” another 2018 TV 2 Charlie show which was retro but forward-looking. “Something’s Rockin’” described the birth of an independent radio with culture in Denmark. Produced by SF Studios’ Senia Dremstrup (“Norskov”),  “The New Nurses” talks cleverly [...]

  • Robert Redford

    Robert Redford to Receive Honorary Cesar Award

    Legendary American actor and director Robert Redford is set to receive an honorary Cesar award, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, at the 44th annual César ceremony, which will take place on Feb. 22 in Paris. “An iconic actor, an exceptional director, a passionate producer, founder and president of Sundance, the most revered festival of independent [...]

  • Goteborg: Co-writer Hakan Lindhe on Viaplay’s

    Co-Writer Hakan Lindhe on Politics, Image in Viaplay’s ‘The Inner Circle’

    David Ehrling, Sweden’s Minister for Enterprise, who is tipped to be its next Prime Minister, spends a lot of the time in Sweden’s “The Inner Circle” not preparing his speeches, or in impassioned discussion of key political issues, but staring into the mirror, rain checking on his strong-jawed image. He spends much of his enterprise, [...]

  • 'Invisibles' Director Louis-Julien Petit On His

    'Invisibles' Director Louis-Julien Petit on his Socially-Minded Smash

    PARIS —  Far from a dumping ground, the months of January and February have become synonymous in France with the kinds of highly polished crowd-pleasing comedies that dominate the annual box-office. This year is no exception, only nestled among the likely blockbusters “Serial Bad Weddings 2” and “City Hunter” is Louis-Julien Petit’s socially minded dramedy [...]

  • "The Continent," directed by Chinese racer

    Alibaba Pictures Buys Into Chinese Director Han Han's Film Studio

    Alibaba Pictures confirmed that it has invested an undisclosed amount in Chinese celebrity blogger-turned-film director Han Han’s Shanghai Tingdong Film. Han’s upcoming “Pegasus” is one of the most anticipated films of the year in China. Alibaba Pictures, part of e-commerce giant Alibaba, is now the second-largest stakeholder in Tingdong. It has a 13.1% stake, according to Chinese [...]

  • Nicolas Philibert Talks Nursing Documentary 'Each

    Nicolas Philibert: 'A Director Driven To Make A Statement Cannot Make Cinema'

    PARIS  — For over two decades, French documentarian Nicolas Philibert has examined his country’s various public institutions with a watchmaker’s calm and anthropologist’s curiosity. In films like “To Be and To Have,” “La Maison de la Radio” and “Louvre City,” he’s taken his camera into schoolhouses, broadcast hubs and the world’s most famous museum. His [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content