IU Cinema is set to screen “A Fantastic Woman” this weekend.
The 2017 Chilean drama that took home an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars ceremony. The film will play 9:30 p.m. Friday, March 30, and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 31.
Tickets are $4 for students and $7 for non-students.
“A Fantastic Woman” stars actress Daniela Vega as a transgender nightclub singer whose older boyfriend dies suddenly while they are together one evening. As she tries to process her grief, she finds herself suspected because of her identity.
IU Cinema’s staff wanted to screen the film because it’s a socially and culturally important one, the Cinema's Associate Director Brittany Friesner said in an email.
“It is a groundbreaking performance, and the social significance of a transgender actress portraying a transgender character was not one we wanted our audiences to miss,” Friesner said. “So, we booked the film for many reasons, least of which was it’s simply a good movie.”
Friesner said she first saw the film in January at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. She said the theater, which seats around 450 people, was packed full.
“The film had not yet received an Oscar nomination, but it was obvious buzz was already surrounding the film and the breakout performance by actress Daniela Vega,” Friesner said.
She said the experience was incredible.
“It was an hour-and-45-minute roller coaster running the emotional gamut,” Friesner said. “I felt love, pain, empathy, amusement, affection, sorrow, grief.”
The emotions at the screening were communally felt, she said.
Friesner said there are few things she loves more than sitting through a film in a crowded theater and knowing the person next to her is feeling the film.
"That’s because we’re both laughing at the same things, holding our mouth agape at the same moments, or crying at the same scenes,” she said. “I love the palpable feeling of community an emotive film can create, and I absolutely had that experience with ‘A Fantastic Woman.’”
Friesner said she found Vega’s turn as the film’s lead especially affective.
“Vega’s performance was truly dynamic and utterly engrossing,” she said.
Xavier Chavez, a social work intern with IU’s LGBTQ+ Culture Center, said representation is important for everyone.
For some, he said, it’s a rare opportunity to see themselves and experiences similar to their own portrayed on screen.
“The importance of representation is to allow those who are not often seen within media to be seen,” he said.
It’s also important for its capacity to broaden viewers’ worldviews and open eyes to new life experiences they might not be familiar with, he said.
“You can see representation as a way for social advocacy, to say people are being oppressed and these are their stories,” he said.
Chavez said it’s special to see a film like “A Fantastic Woman,” in which transgender characters are played by transgender actors. He said the movie industry has a disappointing tendency to shut transgender people out of portrayals of their own stories.
“You do have to think about the people who are actually living those lives,” he said. “If you portray them like that, then you’re kind of taking that voice, and that perspective, and those actual life experiences away from individuals who could actually be giving those performances as themselves.”
Friesner said she wanted to show the film to offer moviegoers an emotional experience.
“Film, to me, is all about shining a light on the shared experience of humanity,” Friesner said. “I look to program films that reach out to people and let them know it’s OK to have feelings and to share them with people. Let’s be vulnerable.”
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