With the support of her loving father, Lara, (Victor Polster) a transgender teenager, pursues her dream of becoming a professional ballerina. Assigned male at birth, Lara has to overcome more than blistered, bloody feet to realize her dream, and leads a painful trajectory, full of frustrations, as she struggles to come to terms with her more complex journey to womanhood.
With remarkable mastery and sensitivity, Flemish first-time director Lukas Dhont brings transgender experiences to the forefront with a coming-of-age story that explores the psychological and physical journey of transitioning from adolescent to adult, as well as between genders. “I wanted the audience to comprehend what it’s like to be born in a body that’s not yours,” DHont told the HFPA. “A lot of people have a body they don’t feel fully connected to. It was essential for me to talk about the relationship one has with the body.”
Dhont auditioned approximately 500 actors and dancers before settling on Polster, a 17-year-old trained dancer. “When (he) walked through the door, we all knew Victor was the perfect fit to play the role of Lara.” Girl is inspired by the story of an actual trans ballerina he read about in a newspaper article when he was 18. “I had an immediate admiration for Nora as a person,” he said. “The fact that a 15-year-old had the courage to be true to herself above the opinion (and objection) of others both shocked and inspired me.” “It was also important to us that the film showed its central figure, Lara, as a protagonist surrounded by love.”
Dhont was born in Ghent, Belgium. He graduated with a diploma in audiovisual arts from the KASK School of Arts in Ghent. His short films, Corps Perdu and L’Infini received numerous prizes. He wrote Girl, his feature debut, with scenarist Angelo Tijssens. Polster was born in Brussels in 2002. After studying drama courses at a very young age, he decided to pursue classical dance and joined the Royal Ballet School in Antwerp. Polster’s portrayal of Lara marks his feature film debut. His portrayal is totally vulnerable and raw, a performance that’s quite simply brilliant.
Girl had its world premiere at Cannes this year where it received the Camera d'Or Award for best feature film and earned the A Certain Regard jury award for best performance for Polster. Since then it has won numerous awards around the world, such as the Sutherland Trophy for Best First Feature at the BFI London Film Festival, the Audience Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival, the Grand Prize, the Golden Angel at the Tofifest Film Festival, the Fipresci International Critics Prize and many more. “In the end,” concludes Dhont, “my wish is for Girl to inspire people. I see Lara’s journey in the film as an example that everything and anything is possible and that we shouldn’t give up on our dreams no matter our struggles. I hope this film continues to amplify the important conversations about our transgender community.”