A fantastic woman’s fight

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Cast your mind back across the years: All About My Mother; The Lives of Others; The Secret in Their Eyes; A Separation; Amour; The Great Beauty; Ida; Son of Saul; The Salesman. All these wonderful films were deserved winners of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film and this year’s category is again incredibly strong. Following on the back of other brilliant and timely nominees, On Body on Soul and Loveless, this Friday sees the release of Sebastián Lelio’s magnificent follow up to 2013’s Gloria: A Fantastic Woman – a ground-breaking, captivating romance and a deeply humane story about a trans woman’s fight for acceptance.

With hints of the best of Pedro Almodóvar’s films and especially the truly great All About My Mother, this is an eye-opening film by one of Chile’s most exciting new directors that is sombre and uplifting, bleak and empowering. Marina is a waitress moonlighting as a singer in a cocktail bar. She and Orlando are madly in love, but on the night of her birthday, he falls gravely ill. Her involvement in her partner’s untimely death, and her right to mourn are called into question when bigotry and hostility leads both the authorities and Orlando’s family to treat her with intolerance, contempt and aggression. Daniela Vega gives a heartfelt and deeply compassionate performance as Marina in this defiantly honest portrayal of a trans woman fighting through her grief.

Films telling LGBT+ stories should not just be confined to LGBT+ History Month and although stories about trans women have been up for big awards before (The Crying Game, Boys Don’t Cry, Dallas Buyers club, The Danish Girl etc.) - this is the first time that a film has been nominated for an Oscar where the lead character is portrayed by an actor who is themselves trans. It’s a year of awards milestones and Yance Ford’s Strong Island (at last year’s Sheffield Doc/fest) is another triumph, as it’s Oscar Nomination for Best Documentary makes Ford the first trans director to be shortlisted for an Academy Award.

It’s a week for amazing world cinema releases and joining A Fantastic Woman at the Showroom this Friday we have the winner of last year’s Sundance Festival World Cinema Grand Jury Prize. Tense and taut, gripping and shocking, The Nile Hilton Incident is set in the days leading up to the 2011 Tahrir Square uprising and follows Police Detective Noredin (Fares Fares) as he investigates a murder. Consistently pressed by his superiors to look the other way, the detective finds himself drawn further in, exposing increasingly disturbing details and systematic corruption that leads him from the streets to the mansions of Egypt’s power elite. Based on true events and framed by the heightening unrest in the country, Saleh’s film is a tense and politically charged thriller and a bitingly relevant commentary on the sustained criminality of Mubarak’s rule. We are committed at the Showroom to supporting cinema from across the world and are delighted to be able to bring both these vital titles to you this week!