Brazilian Trans Drama ‘Valentina’ Sells to Spain, Sweden and Japan (EXCLUSIVE)

·3 min read

Spain’s leading pay TV player, Movistar Plus, has snapped up Brazilian trans drama “Valentina,” the debut feature of helmer-scribe Cássio Pereira dos Santos, in its continued bid to diversify and expand its content.

“The film won the audience and best performance awards at the São Paulo International Film Festival, important recognitions that show the project’s potential to communicate well with audiences,” said Movistar’s Carmen Castillo Alvarez.

More from Variety

Japan’s Hark & Company and Swedish distributor Njutafilms have also acquired the drama for their respective markets.

“We think it is important to bring ‘Valentina’ to the Swedish audience because this warm and genuine portrait of a young transwoman shows how difficult daily life can be for transgender people in some environments,” said Nicolas Debot, CEO of Njutafilms, which is planning a theatrical release in a few months.

Japan’s Hark & Company aims to theatrically release the film in the spring of next year. “I’m very excited that Hark can introduce this special movie in Japan, it’s truly a gem,” said acquisitions executive Kim Heaok.

“Valentina” has clinched a host of festival awards, including outstanding performance for its lead Thiessa Woinbackk at LA’s Outfest, where it had its world premiere. Woinbackk plays a 17-year-old trans girl who moves to a rural town with her mother in an effort to start afresh. To avoid being bullied at her new school, she opts to keep her gender history private and enroll with her new name. That’s not an issue with the school but she needs her estranged father’s signature. Trouble ensues when one day her secret is outed and some parents sign a petition to block her enrollment.

Story shines a light on the sad reality that trans youth face in Brazil where, as the film reveals in the end credits, some 82% of Brazilian trans youth drop out of school and that their average life expectancy is a shocking 35.

Woinbackk, who makes her film debut in “Valentina,” is herself an influential trans activist who posts videos on such topics as civil rights, beauty and the importance of self-acceptance for LGBTQ teens. Her YouTube channel Thiessita has a following of nearly 800,000 and racks up to 35 million views.

Drama was produced by Pereira dos Santos and his sibling Erika Pereira dos Santos at their shingle Campo Cerrado Prods. Hebe Tabachnick, Walder Junior and Natália Brandino serve as executive producers.

The deals were sealed by Tabachnik and Pereira dos Santos after the drama screened at multiple film festivals and garnered up to 15 international awards. It’s set to compete at the 42nd Durban International Film Festival in South Africa and at the 61st Zlín Film Festival, the world’s oldest children’s film festival, in the Czech Republic.

Campo Cerrado Prods. and Tabachnik will be presenting the film to other potential buyers at the Marchè du Film in Cannes.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.