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REVIEW: Oscar-Winning Film “A Fantastic Woman”

The Chilean film took home the Oscar for Best Foreign Film at the 90th Annual Academy Awards tonight, making it the first trans-led film to ever win an Oscar

I recently had the opportunity to go with some friends to a screening of a new, Chilean film entitled Una Mujer Fantastica (A Fantastic Woman). I was excited to see this film because it is the first Oscar-nominated (and as of tonight, Oscar-winning) film starring a trans woman, and representation like that is hard to come by. When the film began, I was surprised at how good it felt to see a woman like me on the big screen.

largeposter-206x300 REVIEW: Oscar-Winning Film "A Fantastic Woman"The film opens with Marina (Chilean actress Daniela Vega) singing in a bar as a man comes in and watches her. She smiles at him, and they go to dinner for Marina’s birthday. The man is Orlando (Francisco Reyes), a business owner and Marina’s much older cis boyfriend. That night, they go home and make love; but later, Marina wakes in the middle of the night to find Orlando sitting up, gasping for breath, and speaking incoherently. She rushes him to the hospital, where he dies of an aneurysm. What follows is the story of Marina trying to pick up the pieces of her life and say goodbye to the man she loved. All the while she is harassed and insulted by Orlando’s family, friends, and the police.

Marina’s life was easy and happy while she had Orlando—a nice apartment and car that belonged to him and which they shared. After his death, all that is taken from her as Orlando’s ex-wife demands the car and his son orders her to move out of the apartment immediately.  As soon as she loses the protection afforded by her relationship, the world rushes in to attack. The police repeatedly question Marina under the suspicion that she had hurt Orlando, misgendering her, and suggesting that Orlando had been paying for her company. Apparently, cis people cannot actually love trans people. Orlando’s ex-wife, Sonia (Aline Küppenheim), deadnames Marina repeatedly, an insulting and delegitimizing act that suggests a trans person’s identity is a playact that can be observed or ignored as is convenient.

Interspersed with the story are dreamlike sequences—Marina walking along a sidewalk suddenly hit with a wind so strong she has to fight to not be blown away; Marina alone in a nightclub transformed from rain-drenched to glam makeup and silver-and-gold dance costumes dancing with an army of likewise beautiful LGBTQ people. These moments both highlight and give respite from the trials she faces every day.

The greatest triumph of A Fantastic Woman is perhaps showing cis audiences the struggles that trans people face daily as we are deadnamed, misgendered, and asked ignorant and invasive questions by law enforcement, healthcare professionals, and total strangers (why is it okay to ask a trans person about their genitals? I honestly don’t get it, and I never see or hear cis people ask each other such questions). Sitting in a dark room hearing a theater full of cis folks gasp in shock and disgust at moments trans people experience daily, I thought maybe that cis people don’t listen, understand, or believe trans people when we talk about our experiences; but seeing it happen themselves, to a character with whom they can’t help but identify after nearly two hours in the dark, drives it home.

A Fantastic Woman invites audiences into the world of trans women, creating understanding and compassion. By the end of the film, Marina gets a chance to say goodbye to Orlando, and has found the strength to fight back against the people who attacked her.

A Fantastic Woman is rated R and has a run-time of 1 hour 44 minutes. Spanish with English subtitles. Content-warning for deadnaming, misgendering, assault, kidnapping.

7 Fantastic LGBT Films On DVD

7 Fantastic LGBT Films On DVD

7 Fantastic LGBT Films On DVD

From love stories to tales of prejudice, bigotry and the struggle for equal rights, here are five fantastic films focused on the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender communities, all of which come highly recommended by our expert critics. 

 

Brokeback Mountain ; Ang Lee; 2005 (pictured)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams
An obvious choice, perhaps, but nevertheless a watershed moment for pink cinema. Visionary director Lee’s tale of two cowboys who fall in love but must keep their feelings secret brought the subject of sexuality to mainstream audiences. 

 

Patrick, Age 1.5 ; Ella Lemhagen; 2008
Starring: Gustaf Skarsgard, Torkel Petersson, Tom Ljungman
Not the most common question in the annals of film- what would happen if a gay Swedish couple adopted what they thought was an 18-month-old orphan, but instead took in a 15-year-old homophobic delinquent- Lemhagen’s film is witty and touching. 

Dear-Beneficiary-Free-features-ad-260x30-NEW_1453993479.8063 7 Fantastic LGBT Films On DVD

Pride ; Matthew Warchus; 2014
Starring: Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West
One of 2014’s triumphs, a group of gay rights activists living in London during the 1980s take it upon themselves to get involved in the plight of Welsh miners, who are suffering at the hands of Margaret Thatcher’s unforgiving economic policies. 

 

The Chinese Botanist’s Daughter ; Sijie Dai; 2006
Starring: Mylene Jampanoi, Xiaoran Li, Dong Fu Lin
Beautifully shot and exceptionally well-written, in the house of a famous Chinese botanist teacher, the educator’s daughter falls for a female intern, but due to the inherent prejudices of society, and her family, their relationship cannot be revealed. 

 

Transamerica ; Duncan Tucker; 2005
Starring: Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers, Fionnula Flanagan
Pre-operative male-to-female transexual, Bree, discovers that she fathered a son during a previous relationship, and the kid is now a teenage runaway living and hustling on the streets of New York. Rightly acclaimed, Transamerica should be filed under ‘Must See’. 

 

Boys Don’t Cry ; Kimberley Peirce; 1999
Starring: Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard
After adopting the male identity of Brandon Teena (born Teena Brandon), the world is opened up to the leading man, who takes to the road, eventually finding a new life, and the exciting prospect of love in Nebraska. 

 

Bound ; Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski; 1996
Starring: Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano
Another legendary flick, before The Matrix the Wachowski siblings gave us this tale of a tough female ex-con, Corky, and the passionate affair she has with Violet after the two come up with a scheme to steal millions from the mafia. 

The Search for True Love Shines On Film In “Don’t Marry Griff”

In This New Film, African American Gay Men Search for True Love Releasing Nationally

Don’t Marry Griff, the latest independent film by Color of Love Production Studios, tells the story of Lyodell Archer (Steven L. Coard) and best friend Sutton Brown (Chris DeLoatch) as their friendship is shaken to its core once Sutton confesses his love to Lyodell. Things get even more complicated because he chooses to do it as Lyodell is about to wed his fiancé, Griffith Lowell (JR Rolley).

Don’t Marry Griff is a romantic comedy about love shared between African American men,” explains director Steven L. Coard, who also stars in the film.  “I have always dreamed of the day when I could produce my own independent film for the gay African American community. I aim to create unique and original stories that will hopefully unite our community.”

Coard intends for Don’t Marry Griff to be the first of a series of movies that tackle love stories of gay African American characters.  “It’s important for African American gay men to have characters they can identify with while being entertained,” he says.

“I think most gay black men are striving to achieve the American Dream. I  know I want that white picket fence.  Although I am not looking for the children part,” he adds with a grin.

Don’t Marry Griff  stars Steven L. Coard, Chris DeLoatch and JR Rolley.

Coard had DeLoatch in mind for the role of Sutton when writing the film.  “I had seen him in the web series, ‘Bait’. He plays a psycho killer in the show but I saw a genuine goodness in him.”

The character of Sutton is the type of guy everyone dreams about being with one day.  He’s honest with a sense of humor.  He’s confident, courageous, communicative, a natural leader who listens and takes initiative.  He’s not afraid to go after what he wants and most importantly, he stands up to Griffith in the film and provides Lyodell a safe haven.

Coard originally had another actor in the role of Griffith, but as so often happens in independent filmmaking, two weeks before filming was set to begin, the actor dropped out. Coard was left scrambling to find someone to replace him.  DeLoatch recommended he consider JR Rolley, an actor known for playing  lovable guy-next-door roles.  Coard was doubtful as the role of Griffith called for a type-A, bad-ass personality.  “Despite my hesitation, I brought JR in to read for the part. I immediately saw the passion in his eyes and that he was very prepared and looking for a character opposite from the pretty boy roles he usually plays.”

All seemed to be back on track with filming, until the actor confirmed to play Lyodell unexpectedly dropped out, too.  Pressed for time, Coard decided to take on the role himself.  “I had wanted to focus on working behind the camera as executive producer and director but things don’t always work out the way you plan,” he laughs.  “I sucked it up and and called in my acting chops to start working again.”

Don’t Marry Griff is being distributed by Color of Love Production Studios, an award winning production company that specializes in creating stories about the LGBTQ community of color.   Founded by Steven L. Coard, the studio strives to  focus on unique issues of relevance to the gay African American identity.

“The wonderful thing about Don’t Marry Griff is that viewers do not need to be African American and gay to enjoy it,” says Coard.  “Anyone who has experienced a toxic relationship can relate to the film.  It entertains and is educational as well.   I won’t give away the ending but I will tell you, in Don’t Marry Griff , karma is a beeeotch.”

For more information, visit https://colorofloveproduction.com.

Equinox Gym Celebrates Pride Month With Short Film

Equinox Celebrates Pride Month With Short Film

Equinox Celebrates Pride Month With Short Film Adding 26 Letters To LGBTQ+

It’s Pride around the U.S. and many national companies are sharing their LOVE for the LGBTQ+ communities

(NEW YORK) In celebration of Pride month, Equinox gym has released a new short film, “LGBTQAlphabet: Six Letters Will Never Be Enough,” that expands the definition of LGBTQ into a full alphabet with 26 distinct opportunities to proudly communicate who you are and how you love.

Equinox has been a long-time supporter of the LGBTQ community and Pride around the world, but this year they wanted to make an even more powerful contribution.  They worked with NYC’s LGBT Community Center to produce the short film. Take a peak at the video above.

Interlaced into it are voices from members of The Center, who express how they identify themselves in the queer community and as citizens in the world. 26 words, from Ally to Ze | Zir are brought to life in authentic, brave and meaningful ways.

The video is a continuation of Equinox’s “Commit to Something” narrative and further explores the theme of identity specifically reflecting the diversity of the LGBTQ community.