Chile’s “A Fantastic Woman” wins foreign language film Oscar

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Rita Moreno poses with director Sebastian Lelio from Chile after he won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for "A Fantastic Woman". (REUTERS)
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Director Sebastian Lelio from Chile holds the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for "A Fantastic Woman". (REUTERS)
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Chilean director Sebastian Lelio (C) accepts the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for "A Fantastic Woman" during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (AFP)
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Transgender lead actor Daniela Vega joins director Sebastian Lelio as he is honored for their film "A Fantastic Woman" at the Foreign Language Film nominees cocktail reception in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., in this March 2, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 March 2018

Chile’s “A Fantastic Woman” wins foreign language film Oscar

LOS ANGELES: Landmark Chilean drama “A Fantastic Woman,” a stirring story of love and loss that centers on a transgender woman, won the best foreign language Oscar on Sunday.
A favorite to win, the film has been hailed as a milestone in representing transgender characters and for taking on the timely subject of transgender identity with compassion and sensitivity.
Clutching his gold statuette, director Sebastian Lelio called his transgender leading lady, Daniela Vega, his inspiration for the film.
A smiling Vega, in a magenta gown, stood behind Lelio on the stage, alongside the film’s producers.
The film follows Marina, a transgender waitress and nightclub singer, whose long-term and loving older boyfriend suddenly dies. They had shared a protective bubble of bliss and tenderness that is suddenly shattered and Marina’s world falls apart.
Marina spends most of the film numbed by grief and battling for the right to mourn as her lover’s family shuns and humiliates her and tries to block her from his funeral.
Vega plays the part with unshakable dignity and poise in the face of scorn, discrimination and hostility from her boyfriend’s family and police investigating his death.
Some had hoped Vega would become the first transgender actor nominated for an Oscar. Hollywood has come under increasing criticism for celebrating trans stories played by non-trans actors, while failing to cast transgender actors — Hilary Swank (“Boys Don’t Cry“), Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club“), Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl“) and Felicity Huffman (“Transamerica“) have all garnered Oscar nominations for trans roles, with Swank and Leto winning.

The Chilean film beat out Lebanon’s “The Insult,” Russia’s “Loveless,” Hungary’s “On Body and Soul,” and Sweden’s “The Square.”
The category was presented by Puerto Rican actress-singer Rita Moreno, who donned the same gown she wore 56 years ago when she won best supporting actress for “West Side Story” in 1962
Moreno received a standing ovation when she took the stage.
The 86-year-old Moreno quoted Frank Capra as saying there were three universal languages: “Music, mathematics and the one we honor tonight, the universal language of film,” Moreno said.
“Regardless of its country of origin or the dialect of its words, a great film conveys a story that speaks to the one condition we all share,” Moreno said. “The human condition.”


Mumbai DJ swaps deck for doctor’s scrubs to fight coronavirus

Updated 28 May 2020

Mumbai DJ swaps deck for doctor’s scrubs to fight coronavirus

  • DJ Sanjay Meriya, known as The Spindoctor in Mumbai music circles, began work last month as a medical volunteer

MUMBAI: As India’s financial capital Mumbai battled a growing number of coronavirus cases, local DJ Sanjay Meriya set aside his turntable and dusted off a long-unused medical degree in order to help out.
Meriya, 30, known as The Spindoctor in Mumbai music circles, began work last month as a medical volunteer after spotting a government newspaper ad asking for help.
He has chiefly been visiting a slum in one of Mumbai’s worst-hit suburbs, clad in a protective suit and gloves, to instruct local residents about the precautions they should take to ward off the coronavirus.
“I’m very patriotic. I can battle this way (as a doctor),” Meriya, who signed up as a volunteer for at least three months, told Reuters.
Mumbai accounts for more than 32,000 of India’s 150,000 cases of the coronavirus, making it the worst-hit city. With government hospitals short of beds and health officials overworked, volunteers like Meriya are all the more important.
Meriya began to dabble in DJing as a hobby at around the age of 20 while studying for his medical degree, but said it then “took over me” — much to his family’s dismay.
“They hated it. They still hate it,” he said of his decision to devote himself to being a DJ.
Although worried about his potential exposure to the virus, Meriya’s family is thrilled to see him back in medicine.
“They now have a lot to share with all our relatives, if you know what I mean when it comes to Indian families,” he said.