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A FANTASTIC WOMAN

Interview With Sebastian Lelio
How did you conceive A FANTASTIC WOMAN?

I like to think that the film, like Marina, its central character, is not afraid of pleasure and like her, has a striking and shiny surface. It tries to combine the narrative and the visual pleasure in games of appearances that want to captivate. A sort of Trojan horse loaded with humanity. What is your crusade, or your challenge, as the director of A FANTASTIC WOMAN? I would like the viewer to end up intimately tied to Marina. So, regardless of his or her beliefs, values, or vision of the world, watching her so much on screen, the viewer ends up feeling like her. And from empathizing with her so much, the viewer wants to see her survive and prevail. Film invites us to feel like others, to experiment emotions that are often new to us, and these discoveries occur not within the films, but within the viewers themselves. Film prepares us for life and allows us to explore our spiritual elasticity. I would like the viewer to surrender him or herself to a challenging journey, and to do so with open arms. I would also like the viewer to feel that he or she has seen something beautiful. To feel that he or she was in contact with beauty.

What has the journey from Gloria to A FANTASTIC WOMAN been like?

I feel that in some ways this film is a more complex construction than Gloria because it is several films at the same time. But in spite of the fact that A FANTASTIC WOMAN exists in a different cinematographic territory that operates far beyond realism, it has, just as with Gloria, a higher inclination towards questions than towards answers. At the same time, it examines and exalts a powerful female character, yet for several reasons, A FANTASTIC WOMAN is much more than a film about a woman.

At a moment in time in which the transgender issue is being discussed around the world, where on the map is A FANTASTIC WOMAN?

I don't like judging while filming. I don't like looking down when filming, feeling that the characters are wrong or inferior to me. I need to situate myself in a place from which I can understand them, even the antagonists. When we began writing this film, the transgender issue hadn't exploded in popular culture like it did a year and half ago. Suddenly, the transgender figure moved from a misunderstood marginality to installing itself in a central place in our current collective imagery. I think that the film communes intimately with its character's identity. In Spanish, the word that is used to refer to sexual identity is the same one that is used to allude to narrative style: genre. In this sense, the film itself is "trans-genre". It's a romance film, a ghost film, a fantasy film, a film about humiliation and revenge, a document of reality, a character study. 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 any single way is perhaps one of A FANTASTIC WOMAN'S most contemporary aspects.

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