Cannes fest films seek to move trans issues forward

Cannes fest films seek to move trans issues forward

The musical by Cannes veteran Jacques Audiard about a drug lord with a family who has always wanted to be a woman stars Karla Sofia Gascon.

The 52-year-old has written a book about having a gender transition operation at the age of 46, when she already had an acting career, a wife and a daughter.

‘It was a very tough journey,’ she told AFP, hailing her family’s courage.

The film has earned particular praise for not fixating on the gender transition, but moving far beyond to explore themes of parenthood, love and the victims of Mexico’s gang violence.

Audiard, 72, sensitively portrays the main character’s intimate struggle to be herself.

‘It’s surprising to see this issue being picked up by seasoned filmmakers, who are often cisgender outside the LGBT s

phere,’ said queer cinema expert Franck Finance-Madureira.

‘It’s been THE emerging issue in the LGBT fight for a decade now, and it was about time we had trans leads in films,’ said Finance-Madureira, who is the founder of the Cannes Queer Palm.

‘It took 30 years to normalise gay or lesbian characters, but with trans characters it’s going much faster,’ he added.

He said three or four trans directors existed in the mainstream cinema industry, including the Wachowski siblings behind the Matrix franchise.

Increasingly more films are including gender identity, an issue first explored in films like ‘Laurence Anyways’ by Xavier Dolan in 2012 and ‘Girl’ by Lukas Dhont in 2018.

Among them is Argentinian director Daniel Burman’s ‘Transmitzvah’.

The feature, which premiered at a public screening out of competition, follows a Jewish boy who wants to be a girl and does not want the religious initiation ceremony for boys called a bar mitzvah.

Burman said trans identity needs to be included in cinema but not as a be-all and end-all.

‘We should render these situations visible but not lock ourselves in them,’ he said.

‘There is excessive focus on gender identity as the only pillar of identity,’ he said.

Trans actors now mostly play trans roles.

But Hunter Schafer, who has been on the Cannes red carpet after acting in Palme d’Or contender ‘Kinds of Kindness’, in April said she no longer wanted to play queer roles.

‘I worked so hard to get to where I am, past these really hard points in my transition, and now I just want to be a girl and finally move on,’ the 25-year-old, who broke through in ‘Euphoria’, told GQ magazine.

Trans women also starred in ‘The Belle of Gaza’, a documentary screening out of competition and unrelated to the conflict.

The film is an intimate portrait of Palestinian trans women living on the margins of Israeli society in Tel Aviv, whom French filmmaker Yolande Zauberman calls ‘warriors of their own destiny’.

It also features Talleen Abu Hanna, a Palestinian Christian with Israeli nationality who won Miss Trans Israel 2016, and contest founder Israela.

‘Humanity is transitioning towards a happier more loving version of itself,’ Israela told AFP just before walking the red carpet.