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Filmmaker Lukas Dhont says being labelled 'cis director' is 'offensive' after facing backlash for trans film 'Girl'

The new movie follows a transgender teenager who is transitioning while at ballet school

2018-12-18

Words: Steve Brown

Filmmaker Lukas Dhont has said being labelled a ‘cis director’ is ‘offensive’ after his film Girl faces backlash.

The Belgian filmmaker helmed the new movie which follows a transgender teenager who is transitioning while training as a ballet dancer but despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, the film has come under fire by trans critics saying the film should have been directed by a trans director.

However, while speaking at the ‘Gender Equality is THE Way Forward’ discussion at the European Film Awards (EFAs), the filmmaker defended his movie as said he sees cinema as a “bridge, not a wall”.

According to Screen Daily, he said: “Yes, we need stories about women told by women, yes we need stories about African Americans told by African Americans, yes, we need trans stories told by trans people.

“I see cinema as a bridge, not a wall. This goes for all the arts – acting, directing – if we only make work that reflects our own identity, I think that is the wrong direction.

“I really feel like when I read an article about Girl and it will say ‘cis director Lukas Dhont’, I see that as an offensive thing.

“If you write about a female director and talk about that she is female just to make a point, I would find that extremely offensive as well.

“I’m excited seeing female filmmakers tackle any subject they want, and I’m excited to see trans directors tell any story they want. I hope that is the future.”

The filmmaker – whose film was defended by Nora Monsecour, who inspired the movie - continued that he saw the need for inclusion with exclusion for everyone.

He said: “Not enough trans voices are being heard, are telling stories, that is a confrontation of course with the system that has historically not given them the visibility they needed and wanted.

“I talk as a filmmaker, I think it’s about awareness. Seeing that, acknowledging that, trying in as little steps as you can take or as big steps as you can take, including everyone in the conversation.

“There is a tendency which I find dangerous to fight for inclusion by using exclusion and I think if we try to include – if we fight for everyone’s presence in the room – without excluding any of us – then I think we’re headed in a nice direction.”

Watch the trailer below: