Screened as part of NZIFF 2018

Girl 2018

Directed by Lukas Dhont

Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont won the award for best first feature at Cannes with this empathetic, emotionally rich portrait of a 15-year-old trans girl who aspires to become a ballerina.

Belgium In Dutch and French with English subtitles
105 minutes DCP




Dirk Impens


Lukas Dhont
Angelo Tijssens


Frank van den Eeden


Alain Dessauvage

Production designer

Philippe Bertin

Costume designer

Cathérine Van Bree


Yanna Soentjens


Valentin Hadjadj


Victor Polster (Lara)
Arieh Worthalter (Mathias)
Oliver Bodart (Milo)
Tijmen Govaerts (Lewis)
Katelijne Damen (doctor)
Valentijn Dhaenens (psychiatrist)
Magali Elali (Christine)
Alice de Broqueville (Loïs)
Alain Honorez (Alain)
Chris Thys (Hannah)
Angelo Tijssens (Hendricks)
Marie-Louise Wilderijckx (Marie-Louise)
Virginia Hendricksen (Alain’s assistant)


Cannes (Un Certain Regard) 2018


Camera d’Or (Best First Film)
Cannes Film Festival 2018

This achingly beautiful drama about a teenager who is transitioning gender while training to be a ballerina was one of Cannes 2018’s most talked about films, deservedly winning the Camera d’Or for first-time director Lukas Dhont, and the Un Certain Regard acting award for its standout central performance from Victor Polster. 

While Lara already identifies as a girl, her world is undergoing significant and much desired transformation. She has just moved with her father and beloved kid brother to a new city where she has been provisionally accepted into a prestigious dance school and she will soon be old enough to start hormone replacement therapy. Lara's aspiration to femininity is so great that she has chosen the most extreme physical form of its expression. But here, dance is not a release. Held captive by her body, she tapes her genitals and hides the bloodied feet which have not grown up en pointe like the other girls. While her father offers her nothing but support, she is all teenage uncertainty and impatience and her interior world moves closer to self-destruction even as her outer beauty blooms. 

Dhont and co-writer Angelo Tijssens keep the screenplay stripped bare of external conflict and prejudice, the camera movement and performance revealing the tumult beneath Lara’s steely poise. And while the casting of Polster, who identifies cis gender, will be the subject of debate at a time when awareness of transgender actors is improving, there can be no argument that this is a deeply intuitive performance, rendering the truth of Lara’s battle with indelible grace. — Clare Stewart