Chilean drama with transgender lead in foreign language Oscar race

Daniela Vega in 'A Fantastic Woman.' Twitter photo.

(AP) — A landmark Chilean drama with a transgender star is among five Oscar contenders announced Tuesday for best foreign language film.

Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Lelio's "A Fantastic Woman" is up against Swedish director Ruben Ostlund's art-world satire "The Square," Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri's "The Insult," Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev's divorce drama "Loveless" and abattoir-set love story "On Body and Soul" by Hungarian director Ildiko Enyedi.

The winner will be announced at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony on March 4.

"A Fantastic Woman" centers on a transgender woman (trans actress Daniela Vega) who is shunned by her lover's family after his death. It has been hailed as a milestone in representing transgender characters, though the director says he did not set out to make history.

"It's surprising to me how timely it is," Lelio told The Associated Press. "We have been very mesmerized by the way in which the film has overflowed the cinematic realm and has made its way into the cultural conversation."

Lelio said he sees the film as a love story "that happens to happen to a transgender woman."

"For me, it has always been a film about the limits to our empathy," he said. "About what we are willing to allow from others, where we draw the line in terms of which people are legitimate or which acts of love are legitimate or not."

This year's nominees will come to Oscars trailing awards from international film festivals.

Mexican director Guillermo del Toro's fantastical "The Shape of Water" leads the overall Oscars race, with nominations in 13 categories, including best picture.

Copywrite AP-Jill Lawless.
The Gayly 1/23/2018 @ 1:25 p.m. CST