20,000 Species of Bees


Never has the conversation regarding the trans gender community been more vocal than now. It is a subject that has caused much debate, and a fair amount of hysteria, mostly from those who don’t necessarily have a full understanding of what it means to be trans gender.

If a light needs to be shone on the subject, then consider this directorial debut from Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren to be an appropriate form of illumination.

boom reviews 20,000 Species of Bees
If she mentions Barbie one more time i'm gonna run.

Visiting her family in a part of Spain is Ane (Patricia López Arnaiz) and her three children, the youngest of whom is eight-year-old Aitor (Sofia Otero). It’s quite a family gathering as there’s her mother, her aunt, and her sister and her family, who are gearing up for the baptism of her sister’s latest arrival.

It is a time when Ane, an artist, is considering her options, which allows for her children to go off and pretty much do what they want.

For her youngest Aitor, it is a time of self discovery that finally appears to reveal itself from a sea of confusion. But the fact that Aitor begins to gain clarity in regards to an identity proves to be more difficult for others to comprehend.

boom reviews 20,000 Species of Bees
What if i get you a new Barbie?...

Solaguren’s debut, which she also wrote, is a heart-warming examination of a young person coming to terms with their gender at a young age. There is a certain irony of course that a young actress was cast to play a boy who wants to be a girl, but that shouldn’t take away from what is a phenomenal performance from Otero, especially considering it’s her first ever role. There’s a vulnerability on show at all times, as well as an incredible fragility regarding her mental state throughout. It is absolutely no surprise to learn then that she won the Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance, the youngest person ever to do so.

It is a layered film about family, possibly too layered, especially where the mother’s career path is concerned. Perhaps it’s there as a sign that she has far too much going on in her life to notice what her youngest is going through. And yet it all adds to a rather hefty two hour plus running time, and you feel it.

As a debut however, it manages to impress, not only with an outstanding performance from its young star, but also in traversing a complicated subject with sensitivity, understanding, and more importantly, heart.

we give this three out of five