Tangerine film producers seek to give transgender actors an Oscar nomination

Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, two rising transgender actors who star in Sean Baker’s Tangerine, could be the first of their orientation to secure Oscar nominations. The film’s producers Mark and Jay Duplass (Jeff, Who Lives at Home, and HBO’s Togetherness,) along with indie film distributor Magnolia Pictures, are behind the campaign.

“Jay and I are new to the Academy, so we’re just figuring this whole thing out,” said Duplass to Variety. “One thing that has become apparent to us as we look at this stuff, it seems that the TV Academy has embraced what’s happening in the trans movement with Transparent and Orange is the New Black. We feel that the film Academy is a little behind on that front.”

Tangerine, which was released in January at Sundance, tells the tale of transgender prostitutes celebrating Christmas Eve in Los Angeles. It’s been highly-regarded, touring around the film festival circuit this year and receiving positive reviews from publications like The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. But the film’s producers only recently revealed their run for Oscar nominations.

The Oscar campaign, similar to Tangerine‘s aesthetic (it was shot solely on an iPhone 5s), will be low budget and guerilla style. The Duplass brothers plan on showing the film to their actor friends which includes some of Hollywood’s transgender artists that Jay met while working on Amazon Studios’ Transparent. Magnolia will also send screeners of the film to the actors branch of the Academy but will not pay for expensive “for your consideration” advertising.

“The trans aspect will undoubtedly garner the film attention, but frankly the best strategy is to get as many voters to see it as possible,” said Magnolia Pictures president Eamonn Bowles. “It stands alone among the contenders in its tone, aspirations and achievement.”

Regardless of whether the team pulls off the nomination, Mark Duplass isn’t worried about the difficulty of changing perceptions. “It’s not a loss if we don’t [get the nomination],” he says. “This is a long play in our minds.”