[image-1] Sunday night’s 90th Academy Awards ceremony was a hell of a lot more than snoozy hosts, trophy snubs, and Jennifer Garner memes.
For 28-year old Chilean actress and star of A Fantastic Woman Daniela Vega, it meant being the first openly transgender person to ever present at the Oscars. For film director Sebastian Lelio, it meant winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (a first for Chile). And for the entire country of Chile? Well, that little golden statue served as a reminder to lawmakers to pass a bill that would bolster transgender rights.
According to The New York Times, “a bill that would give transgender Chileans the right to change their name and gender marker in official documents had been advancing at a glacial pace since a handful of lawmakers introduced it in May 2013 … Gay and transgender rights advocates in Chile said they hoped the movie’s recognition would galvanize bills and initiatives to expand rights and fight discrimination.”
After the film’s big win Sunday, current president Michelle Bachelet tweeted: “The award fills us with pride, not only because it recognizes a high caliber film, but a story about respect for diversity that serves us well as a nation” and one of the original proponents of the bill Senator Juan Pablo Letelier, said: “Thanks to this Oscar perhaps it will be understood that this law is not about an issue of values, but rather the basic human right to an identity.”
In A Fantastic Woman, Vega plays Marina, a young waitress and aspiring singer who dates a man 20 years her senior, Orlando. When Orlando suffers from an aneurism and dies, his family treats Marina, an openly trans woman, as less-than, and refuses to acknowledge she was Orlando’s partner. The film follows Marina as she simultaneously grapples with grief and prejudice, a loss of love and a lack of understanding. Watch the award-winning film’s trailer below, and catch a full screening at the starting Terrace this Friday; show times will be 2, 4, and 7:30 p.m. through Thurs. March 15.