×

‘A Fantastic Woman’ Star Daniela Vega Creates History

In casting Daniela Vega in “A Fantastic Woman,” helmer Sebastian Lelio knew he was taking a risk. “I knew I could pay a price for making Daniela the focal point of the film, but if it succeeded, then we would gain something precious,” he says. “Her physical presence carries the story in a way no other person’s can.”

Their collaboration began when he was referred to her while seeking some insight into the lives of transgender people in Chile.

Since he was based in Berlin, they used Skype and emailed for at least a year until he realized that no other person could play the character he had created with co-scribe Gonzalo Maza.

The film “flirts with multiple genres: It’s a romance, a ghost story, a fantasy film, a document of reality and a character study,” he notes. “This stylistic expansion is what attracted me because it meant I could expand my own identity as a filmmaker.”

Given its LGBT theme, it would have been more predictable to shoot the film with a handheld camera in a raw, cinema verite style; instead, he shot it with “a certain flamboyance, classicism and splendor. That’s the most subversive aspect of the film; creating an aesthetic tension between the theme and form was the most complex and difficult challenge.”

The scene in which Vega’s character is leaning against a gale at an extreme angle is Lelio’s nod to Buster Keaton.

Vega plays Marina Vidal whose sexuality is not immediately obvious as the story begins like a classic ’50s tale of a couple in love.

When the older man dies suddenly, Marina’s world comes crashing down and the real story begins. Marina endures the transphobia and discrimination of authorities and her lover’s family.

“Some scenes were difficult but I felt protected by the cast and crew,” says Vega, an autodidact who had some acting experience and was training to be a lyrical soprano when Lelio tapped her.

Thanks to her newly found fame, she is fielding various offers. She has two new projects in the pipeline this year.

With his equally acclaimed 2013 film about a divorcee, “Gloria,” and his upcoming English-language debut “Disobedience” about Orthodox Jewish women, played by Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, who engage in an illicit affair, some people believe that Lelio has made a trilogy.

“It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part but all three explore femininity and women who are at the margins of society.”

A Fantastic Woman” comes at an opportune time when more instances in pop culture, especially on television, is helping to foster understanding and tolerance of the trans community as a whole.

More Film

  • 'Tomb Raider' Star Simon Yam in

    'Tomb Raider' Star Simon Yam in Hospital After Stabbing

    Hugely popular Hong Kong actor, Simon Yam was stabbed while on stage Saturday at a presentation in Zhongshan, Guangdong province in southern China. He is in hospital recovering. The incident happened at the opening of a branch of the Beijing Easyhome building materials company, where Yam was a guest. A man was seen rushing on [...]

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolosnaro attends the

    Bolsonaro Threatens Brazil’s Central Film Fund with Censorship or Closure

    In typical shoot-from-the-hip remarks, Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has declared that Ancine, Brazil’s powerful state-backed federal film agency, should accept “filters”or face closure. “If it can’t have a filter, we’ll close Ancine, or privatize it,” Bolsonaro added, attacking Ancine, which plows some $300 million a year into Brazil’s film and TV industries, for supporting [...]

  • TSOM-MASK

    Director Sara Gouveia on ‘Looking At Resilience Through Art’

    DURBAN–The Mapiko dance of Mozambique’s indigenous Makonde people was long used as a tool for social commentary. But during the colonial era it became an act of political resistance, prompting the Portuguese to stamp it out during Mozambique’s 10-year war for independence. Decades later, the art has been revived as a celebration of freedom. For [...]

  • Don Edkins

    Documentary Filmmaker Don Edkins on ‘Creating an African Voice’ 

    DURBAN–For the 10th Durban FilmMart (DFM), the industry program of the Durban Intl. Film Festival, a new strand was created to look at the unique challenges and opportunities facing documentary filmmakers in Africa. The two-day program, Durban Does Docs, offers a series of conversations, seminars and workshops with an intensive focus on the aesthetics, funding, distribution [...]

  • A Faithful Man

    Film Review: 'A Faithful Man'

    French actor Louis Garrel has been married twice, first to Iranian talent Golshifteh Farahani, and now to model-cum-actress Laetitia Casta. He has also directed two features, the first a free-wheeling love-triangle comedy called “Two Friends” in which Garrel plays the cad who comes between his best friend and the object of his obsession (played by [...]

  • LGBTQ Film Festival Outfest Opens With

    LGBTQ Film Festival Outfest Opens With Documentary About Gay Porn Shops Circus of Books

    Granted, the red carpet at the opening night of Outfest in DTLA may not have been the most star-studded but it was without a doubt the most diverse, inclusive and, yes, fabulous. “I’ve never been here before,” admitted “RuPaul’s Drag Race” vet Trixie Mattel, who stars in the documentary “Moving Parts.” “It’s supposed to be [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Russ Tamblyn's Career Had Legs After Childhood

    With an acting career that spans work for Cecil B. DeMille and Joseph Losey to Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch, Russ Tamblyn’s creativity and longevity is proof that there’s life after child stardom. In Tamblyn’s case, there’s also been a bounty of juicy film and TV roles long after his legendary legs no longer kicked [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content