Valentina, the debut feature by Brazilian writer-director Cássio Pereira dos Santos, will have its world premiere at the Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival, taking place August 20-30, followed by a screening at OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, on August 29. A hopeful and inspiring reflection of the real life hardships faced by a young woman seeking to embrace who she is, Valentina also marks the film debut of influential Brazilian trans YouTuber Thiessa Woinbackk, in the title role.
The film follows Valentina, a seventeen-year-old girl who moves to the countryside of Brazil with her mother, Márcia, for a fresh start. To avoid being bullied at her new school, Valentina attempts to enroll with her new name, hoping to keep her personal gender history private. However, the girl and her mother quickly face dilemmas when the local high school needs a second parental signature for enrollment.
Out gay filmmaker Pereira dos Santos started developing the project in 2013 with his sister Erika – also an out filmmaker and producer of the film -before several prominent trans movies came out and before the rise of the far-right in local Brazilian politics. The film finally went into production in May of 2019 and is being released at a time when Brazil – in the same manner as the United States – is facing an ultra-conservative backlash threatening to reverse many of the accomplishments of the local LGBTQ community.
Executive produced by Hebe Tabachnik, Natália Brandino and Walder Junior, Valentina’s cast and crew was largely composed by members of the LGBTQ community. The film was independently produced by Campo Cerrado, with the support of Brazil’s Secretariat of Audiovisual and Ancine’s 2016 Grant for Low Budget Features.
Joining a powerful generation of Brazilian filmmakers notable for pushing the envelope on representations of sexuality and identity in cinema, Valentina changes the narrative of trans films, through a live affirming and inspiring approach, and shines with the performance of Woinbackk, a renowned local figure ready for her international breakthrough.