Sebastian Lelio Describes “Surprising Reaction” From ‘A Fantastic Woman’ Audiences

“I was prepared for division, to say the least,” the director told THR.

A Fantastic Woman director Sebastian Lelio sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss his recent Oscar nomination for best foreign language film and spoke about the “surprising” reaction from international audiences.

“A year ago, we released the film in the Berlin Film Festival and I was prepared for division to say the least, and it was very surprising to see the reaction with the big international audience,” Lelio told THR. “It was so strong and so loving, [and] I wasn’t expecting that because the subject of the film generates division. It polarizes opinions.”

He added, “Everywhere we’ve been with the film, where we have shown it, we have witnessed the same type of reaction. It’s been a gradual process of understanding the strength of the film because it’s something that you cannot calculate.”

A Fantastic Woman centers on transgender woman Marina Vidal, played by Daniela Vega, who faces discrimination after the sudden death of her older boyfriend. While Vega is front and center throughout the film, she originally started as a consultant for Lelio while he was writing the script.  

Speaking on meeting Vega, the director said that he was merely looking for “advice and for a friend” while creating the story, but “that meeting was a really milestone in the process because after that meeting, I understood that I really wanted to write the script and make the film, but I wasn’t going to make it without a transgender actress.”

He continued, “It was just a natural, instinctive decision, but then it took me a year to understand that the star of the film was Daniela, so she was a consultant for a year, but it took me a year to understand that she was the one.”