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Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI's Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery Funding from the BFI

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20,000 Species of Bees

"What if the problem isn’t an eight-year old – born a boy and raised as such – who knows she is a girl? What if the problem is everybody else?"

20000 SPECIES OF BEES (20,000 especies de abejas) (SPAIN) 2023 Drama  

Director : Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren

Starring :  Sofía Otero  
Patricia López Arnaiz 
Ane Gabarain 

2 hr  08 min    

This is Solagruen’s first narrative feature after three short films and one full-length documentary, Perhaps the most admirable aspect of her screenplay is the way this busy film creates a textured mosaic of voices and views without ever forfeiting sympathy for its pre-pubescent protagonist.

It’s a a film set across generations that is about how those generations constrain one another. Coco’s mother Ane (an intense Patricia Lopez Arnaiz) becomes the film’s second focus and also its conflicted moral hinge, trying to do the best by the son who she hasn’t quite yet learned to think of as a daughter while pursuing her career and dealing with two other children and a disapproving mother.

Ane’s mother Lita (Itziar Lazkano) believes that Coco – a family nickname for a child whose male birth name is Aitor – is simply ‘confused’ about her identity, and that Ane indulging it with fingernail painting and long hair is just making things worse. But this country town is not depicted as a place of reactionary rednecks, simply a microcosm of the world at large, at its most normative in communal spaces like the town’s swimming pool, or a baptism ceremony. It’s a conformist, self-policing place which mostly accepts the idea of diverse gender experiences but thinks things can be ‘taken too far’.

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