×
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

  • Christian Gabela

    Gaumont Appoints 'El Chapo' Executive Producer to VP of International Co-Productions

    Gaumont has appointed Christian Gabela, the executive producer of “El Chapo,” as vice president of international TV co-productions. Gabela’s role will be to manage and expand the company’s TV distribution and co-production partnerships in key territories internationally with a focus on Latin America. Gaumont is currently developing the series “El Presidente,” its first Latin American [...]

  • The Peanut Butter Falcon

    'The Peanut Butter Falcon,' 'For Sama' Win Top Awards at Nantucket Film Festival

    NANTUCKET, Mass. — Adventure drama “The Peanut Butter Falcon” and Syria documentary “For Sama” emerged as the top winners at the 24th annual Nantucket Film Festival. The festival, which concludes today, as ever put the emphasis on screenwriters and emerging talents. Director Paul Downs Colaizzo’s Sundance hit “Brittany Runs a Marathon” had a number of [...]

  • Bill Murray

    Bill Murray to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award From Wes Anderson at Rome Festival

    The Rome Film Festival will celebrate Bill Murray with its lifetime achievement award, which will be presented to him by Wes Anderson. Anderson, who has directed Murray in some of his most iconic roles, most notably in “The Royal Tenenbaums,” and in several other films such as “The Darjeeling Limited,” “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Grand Budapest [...]

  • CLOSE QUARTERS – In Disney and

    'Toy Story 4': 5 Takeaways From Opening Weekend

    Despite arriving below expectations, “Toy Story 4” did huge business this weekend with ticket sales surpassing $118 million in North America. As sequels hailing from beloved franchises continue to flounder at the box office, Disney and Pixar’s cartooned fourquel is a much-needed win for the movie business. It now ranks among the top debuts for [...]

  • Prince Death

    Prince’s ‘Batman' at 30: How the Film Saved His Career From ‘Horrible’ Financial Straits

    As the movie that ushered in both the modern-day superhero genre and a new peak in the art of saturation marketing, Tim Burton’s “Batman” has a legacy that’s hard to overstate. Virtually everything associated with the 1989 comic-book adaptation became a cultural phenomenon, from Burton’s mischievous, mainstream-goth aesthetic to the meta-narrative of the film’s record-breaking [...]

  • Lucrecia MartelVenice Film Festival 2017, Italy

    Argentina's Lucrecia Martel Named Venice Jury President

    Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel has been named the president of the jury at this year’s Venice Film Festival, the event’s 76th edition. Venice chief Alberto Barbera praised Martel as “Latin America’s most important female director and one of the top female directors worldwide,” adding that she had achieved this status with just “four feature films [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content