The Sundance Film Festival often showcases some of the best new queer and trans talent, and that is definitely true this year. One such film was trans filmmaker Vuk Lungulov-Klotz’s directorial debut, Mutt, about a trans man named Feña rekindling his relationship with his father, straight ex-boyfriend, and younger half-sister over the course of a day. Mutt introduced the world to Puerto Rican transmasculine actor Lío Mehiel, whose performance as Feña would win them the coveted U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Acting.
For Mehiel, being the first out trans actor to win the award reminded them why they are in the film industry. “Three artists I deeply admire — Jeremy O. Harris, Eliza Hittman, and Marlee Matlin —made up the jury. And as it was my first role in a feature film, it felt like they were giving me a meaningful nudge of encouragement like, ‘Hey, keep going with this. We believe in you,’” Mehiel says.
They have already shot their next feature film, In the Summers, costarring Sasha Calle, Residente, and Leslie Grace. And they are ready to continue showing the varied and unique lives trans people live.
“Right-wing conservatives want people to be afraid of anyone who is different from them, because a population that is afraid and distrusting of one another is a population that is easier to control,” they say. “Trans people like me…we fall in love, we get our hearts broken, we miss our families, we get tired of our families, we want to build a beautiful life for ourselves, and sometimes we feel like failures just like anyone else.” @lio.mehiel
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