La Debutante

Lena Tosta
45 minutes


At the outset of the so-called “Trans Decade”, soon-to-be grandmother Emilie Dumont made her debut into womanhood. A daughter of our times, her private revolution was triggered by the emerging narratives on gender in our brave new world of connectedness. She, too, would find belonging and a voice online. She, too, would tell her story of “an ordinary woman living an extraordinary journey” on camera. Our camera. Relying on spontaneous discourse alone, we witness Emilie embody her femininity and unveil it to everyone who crosses her path, to our lenses, and ultimately to herself. Although her experiences are unique, they speak of the unwelcomed struggle she shares with an evergrowing number of late-bloomer transgendered people, who, simply to fit in, must defy the institutions they value. Filmed in France by a Brazilian anthropologist and produced by Emilie herself, the film has the potential to raise key methodological questions regarding co-participant methodologies and to help revert the direction of the colonial gaze, as well as to diversify narratives on trans people’s lives. It also revealed unforeseen potentials of film ethnography in portraying non-conforming identities, as the anthropological gaze combined with aesthetic care had a transformative power on the protagonist’s view of herself. 

Short biography/filmography of the director: Lena Tosta is a Brazilian and French anthropological filmmaker and former lecturer at the Universidade de Brasília (UnB) and IESB, in Brasília, Brazil. She holds a doctorate degree in Anthropology and two master’s degrees, one of which is in Anthropological Cinema from Jean Rouch’s Anthropological Cinema Department at the University of Paris X. She has produced audiovisual work and conducted field research in Brazil, India, Canada, Nepal and France and currently works with film production, curation, exhibitions and gives speeches on Visual Anthropology and on her ethnographic fields of expertise. 

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