Entertainment

'About Ray' director responds to critics at TIFF about portrayal of transgender character

The drama has angered some members of the trans community for casting actress Elle Fanning as Ray, a transgender boy.

Director Gabby Dellal poses while promoting the film "About Ray" during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Friday, September 11, 2015.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Director Gabby Dellal poses while promoting the film "About Ray" during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Friday, September 11, 2015.

TORONTO — "About Ray" director Gaby Dellal says her film is being unfairly knocked for the way it presents its transgender character.

Over the past few weeks, the drama has angered some members of the trans community for various reasons, including the decision to cast actress Elle Fanning as Ray, a transgender boy ready to embark on the early stages of a physical transition.

"Actually, I think I should be credited for trying to make this issue be as accessible as I hope it can be, through names that will bring the audiences into the cinema," she said.

"About Ray" tells a generational story of three women all undergoing their own changes.

The grandmother, played by Susan Sarandon, is coming into her identity as a lesbian woman, while her daughter, actress Naomi Watts, is fumbling with her past as she looks toward her future with a son.

But it's Fanning's transgender character who is getting most of the attention in the film's trailers — even though Dellal said the film was never originally envisioned solely as a transgender story.

"This was never intended to be an issue-based film as championing a movement in any way," she said.

"It wasn't about glamorizing, sensationalizing or making a big deal out of the trans character."

Dellal said she thinks it might be misleading for audiences to go into "About Ray" assuming it's a gender transition story.

"I was keen on coming in where (Ray's transition) was as normal as anything," she said.

"I think I've done a good job in starting a conversation about the community."

 

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