Trans stories spotlighted at prestigious Cannes Film Festival

At the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, trans storylines emerged as a recurring theme, earning praises from LGBTQ+ critics.

Image from breakout transgender film Emilia Pérez at film festival

Trans identities and storylines took centre stage at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, one of the most celebrated events in the film industry.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival is the musical Emilia Pérez, starring Karla Sofia Gascon in the role of a drug lord striving to be her authentic self. In the film, a Mexico City lawyer is hired by a cartel with the unexpected request to help Manitas flee Mexico with her wife (Selena Gomez) and children to seek gender-affirming surgery.

Gascon herself is a trans actress who transitioned at the age of 46 and, in addition to featuring at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the Spanish-language musical has earned praise among LGBTQ+ reviewers for exploring themes of parenthood, love, and the character’s personal growth.

Emilia Pérez reportedly earned a nine-minute standing ovation following its premiere. The film is even being considered for the festival’s most prestigious prize, the Palme d’Or, Cannes’.


Trans women also earned starring roles in The Belle of Gaza, a documentary which offers an intimate portrait of Palestinian transgender women living on the margins of society in Tel Aviv.

The film explores the story of transgender women who were forced to run away from their families to affirm their gender identity and pursue their romantic dreams. The film was made prior to the start of Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza, and features Talleen Abu Hanna, a Palestinian who won Miss Trans Israel 2016.


Many critics have praised the recent increase of trans representation in films, with French filmmaker Yolande Zauberman saying: “Trans women were once viewed as goddesses and demi-goddesses. I wanted to give them that place in the film.”

Queer cinema expert and founder of the Cannes Queer Palm Franck Finance-Madureira said: “It’s surprising to see this issue being picked up by seasoned filmmakers, who are often cisgender outside the LGBT sphere.”

“It’s been the emerging issue in the LGBT fight for a decade now, and it was about time we had trans leads in films,” Finance-Madureira added. “It took 30 years to normalise gay or lesbian characters, but with trans characters it’s going much faster.”

Last year, Cate Blanchett launched a new platform called Proof of Concept supporting women, transgender and non-binary filmmakers. Speaking about the programme, she said: “Providing tangible financial and career support for filmmakers who often get overlooked will not only give them a fantastic launchpad to success, it will also expand the future of film and television.”

She added: “Their point of view, in whatever story, in whatever genre they tell it, will be different from somebody who has grown up [as a] white middle class male.”

© 2024 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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