Uh oh. This could be a rough few months for LGBT representation in cinema. Earlier today we previewed the 5 major LGBT films coming out this fall, including one that is already igniting a lot of controversy (“Stonewall,” in case you’ve been offline for the past few weeks). Now it looks like another one of those films could prove problematic to those it represents.
Gaby Dellal gave an interview to Refinery29 about the upcoming “About Ray,” an inter-generational story focusing on a transgender boy (Elle Fanning) and his supportive mother (Noami Watts) and grandmother (Susan Sarandon). And unlike a recent interview in which Eddie Redmayne (who plays a transgender woman in another fall release, “The Danish Girl”) offered thoughtful and respectful words on the community he’s representing, Dellal presented herself quite problematically. Co-writer of the film as well, she admitted that just three and a half years ago she was largely unaware of the subject matter in her film.
“Three and a half years ago that was news to me,” she says. In her mind, “we all think we’re working in a generation where transgender issues are very normal — ” i.e., covered by mainstream media — “but I don’t think they were as little as three years ago. They weren’t as transparent. I’m not saying they didn’t exist, but I didn’t know about them.”
She used female pronouns to describe Ray and defended her casting of a cisgender actress (Fanning) with some very poor choices of words:
“The part is a girl and she is a girl who is presenting in a very ineffectual way as a boy,” Dellal explains. “She’s not pretending to have a deeper voice. She’s just a girl who is being herself and is chasing the opportunity to start hormone treatment. So to actually use a trans boy was not an option because this isn’t what my story is about.”
In our mind, Dellal seems to be presenting herself as someone trying to capitalize on trans issues being ‘popular’ without know what she’s talking about. You can read the whole interview here and let us know what you think. “About Ray” is having its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and debuts in theaters in September. Here’s hoping it proves more sensitive than Dellal’s interview.