Una mujer fántasica, A Fantastic Woman by its English name, made history tonight winning the Oscar for the best foreign language film at the 90th anniversary of the Academy Awards. Not only is it the first-ever Chilean film to take home an Oscar, the film blazed new trails as it is the first Oscar-nominated film to feature a transgender protagonist portrayed by a transgender artist. The film edged out The Square, Ruben Östlund’s Swedish satire, and Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Russian fable to win the Oscar.
A Fantastic Woman follows the story of Marina, played by Daniela Vega, a transgender woman who is in a relationship with Orlando, a man 30 years her senior. After his untimely death, Marina is not only left to struggle through her personal grief, but also forced to deal with scorn, suspicion, and discrimination from his family.
Vega also made history tonight by standing on the stage as the first ever trans person to present an award at the Oscars. She introduced a song from the Oscar-nominated Call Me By Your Name, a movie that also explores sexuality and the human experience at a profound level.
A Fantastic Woman has been showered with praise, largely focused on Vega’s performance. Prior to A Fantastic Woman, Vega had only appeared in one film. Vega has taken advantage of her newfound notoriety to lobby for transgender rights in her home country of Chile – where it remains difficult for a name or gender change to be recognized legally.
The film was directed by Sebastián Lelio and stars Daniela Vega and Francisco Reyes. In addition to tonight’s historic Oscar win, the film has also been recognized by numerous festivals including the Independent Spirit Awards, National Board of Review, Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Goya Awards and the Cabourg Film Festival.