|The influential and popular Brazilian trans YouTuber Thiessa Woinbackk has been announced as the winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Performance in an International Narrative Feature at the 38th edition of Outfest, Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival, for her film debut in the title role of Valentina by Cássio Pereira dos Santos.
“Valentina is my first film ever, and this award is so important for the transgender community. I’m so happy and thankful!” said São Paulo-based Woinbakk in a video acceptance speech. She runs the influential and fast-growing Youtube channel Thiessita, with over 770,000 followers, and around 35 million views, and is also a trans rights activist and publishes videos on topics such as civil rights, beauty and the importance of self-acceptance for LGBTQ teens.
A hopeful and inspiring reflection of the real life hardships faced by a young woman seeking to embrace who she is, Pereira dos Santos’ debut feature had its world premiere at the Outfest, and also played this weekend at OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The film will have an encore virtual screening at Outfest next Saturday, September 5, and it will also screen at Cine Latino in Minneapolis Saint Paul in October. The European and Latin American premieres of the awarded Brazilian production will be announced shortly.
The film tells the story of Valentina, a seventeen-year-old girl who moves to the countryside of Brazil with her mother, Márcia (played by renowned actress Guta Stresser), 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 the signature of the father (played by Rômulo Braga) for enrollment.
Produced by Erika Pereira dos Santos and 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, in conjunction with the Fundo Setorial do Audiovisual.
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.