Focus Features has always been at the forefront of gender-inclusive cinema, producing pieces that shine a light on human experiences that were often overlooked in the entertainment world including Brokeback Mountain, Milk, and The Kids Are Alright. With last year’s release of The Danish Girl, the distributor made great strides into films about trans individuals, even though the film received a fair amount of criticism for casting Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, Les Misérables) as Lili Elbe—one of the first trans women to undergo sex reassignment surgery. Now, in order to expand diversity in the entertainment world and trans storytelling, Focus is launching the Lili Elbe Fellowship to nurture and give opportunities to trans filmmakers.
In addition to receiving a $10,000 grant to fund their film, the winner of the fellowship will be mentored by some of today’s most creative individuals as part of Film Independent’s Project Involve. Those mentors include writer/director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines), producer Christine Vachon (Carol, Boys Don’t Cry), cinematographer Michael Gioulakis (It Follows), and writer/director Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler).
The key to a great film is masterfully exposing the truth and beauty of its subjects and hopefully, with the recent Oscars protests as well as the Academy’s newfound commitment to inclusivity, more of these original voices will be heard without having to shout.