Chilean drama film A Fantastic Woman has won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscars, as the film’s acclaimed star became the ceremony’s first openly transgender presenter.
Directed by Sebastián Lelio, A Fantastic Woman stars 28-year-old transgender actress Daniela Vega as trans woman Marina, who faces prejudice and discrimination from society as she tries to mourn the sudden death of her lover Orlando in the face of opposition from his ex-wife and adult son.
Acccepting the award, Lelio said the win was “an amazing gift.”
“I want to thank the cast of the film, especially the brilliant actor Francisco Reyes and the inspiration for this movie, Daniela Vega,” he said.
“This film was made by a lot of friends and artists, I share this with all of you tonight.”
He told reporters backstage, “For me, it was [a] very instinctive and strong decision knowing that I was not going to make this film without a transgender actress in main role.
“That put [the] film in a different dimension because of everything that Daniela brought to the film.”
He said he hoped the film’s Oscar nod would help “contribute to a necessary and urgent conversation” about trans rights in Chile and around the world.
Daniela Vega also presented at the Oscars ceremony, making history as the first openly trans presenter to do so.
The actress previously told the Los Angeles Times she hoped the film raised visibility and awareness of the issues faced by the transgender community.
“There is a lot of discrimination from the government in my country because there are no laws that allow us to do a normal transition, and to do it safely. There’s no public policy that supports the rights of trans people,” she said.
“The political and social situation isn’t that much different in Chile than it is [in the US], in that there is a weird feeling when it comes to transgender people in general.
“But we have a lot to contribute in the sciences, arts and every single discipline. We’re fighting for liberty, to be heard. I see the world is trying to change fast, but in some areas, that change is being blocked.”
Watch the trailer for A Fantastic Woman below: