American distributor demands re-edit of Flemish film Girl

Summary

Concerned about the age of the actor in the gender-bending film Girl, Netflix has asked the director to edit two scenes that include sex and nudity

Three European Film Award nominations

Director Lukas Dhont must re-edit two scenes in his film Girl for the American release or risk too much controversy in the run-up to the Oscars. The demand is coming from Netflix, which is distributing the film in the United States, both in cinemas and on its own streaming site.

Girl is the story of teenager Lara who is transitioning from male to female while also studying ballet. It is based on the real-life story of a ballet dancer in Antwerp.

The film has won many awards, including six prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. Last week it was nominated for three European Film Awards: Best Film, Best Actor and the Discovery Award for best first feature for Dhont.

It is Belgium’s official entry to be considered for an Academy Award nomination for foreign language films, and there is already buzz that it is a frontrunner for a nomination. Netflix wants to avoid controversy in order to maximise the film’s chances and has asked Dhont to re-edit two scenes.

Penis panic

One scene involves oral sex between Lara and her neighbour and one involves a split second of her naked body. Because the actor playing Lara (Victor Polster) was 15 at the time the film was shot, Netflix is concerned about allegations of child pornography.

Dhont is agreeing to the changes, though against his will, he told De Morgen. “If I didn’t think that what was in the film was essential, it wouldn’t be there,” he said. “But imagine that we get a nomination. You really don’t want negative stories to pop up at that point.”

The film is in cinemas now in Belgium, where 100,000 people have bought a ticket. It also broke records in France last month for a Flemish film.

Photo: Victor Polster won the best actor award at Cannes for his portrayal of Lara in Girl