The global film community is uniting to support Zoe Terakes, the nonbinary and trans masculine star of the horror feature “Talk to Me,” after Kuwait banned the film due to Terakes’ gender identity. In a joint statement, Causeway Films and Bankside Films, the producer and sales agent of the movie, expressed their unwavering solidarity with Terakes, marking a powerful stand against discrimination and censorship.
“Talk to Me,” which has garnered international acclaim, has become the center of controversy in Kuwait after censors decided to prohibit its release solely based on the inclusion of Zoe Terakes in the cast. While Kuwait has previously banned films containing LGBT themes or references, this marks the first instance in which a film has been blocked due to a cast member’s gender identity, even though it is unrelated to the film’s storyline.
Causeway Films and Bankside Films released a statement affirming their support for Terakes: “We stand in solidarity with Zoe Terakes following the decision by Kuwait to ban the film Talk to Me. Zoe has made their own statement, which we fully support, and we are immensely proud of their involvement in the film.”
Over the weekend, Zoe Terakes took to their Instagram and X accounts to share a heartfelt and poignant response to the situation. In their statement, they emphasized their identity as a trans actor, not merely a thematic element. They denounced Kuwait’s decision to target and dehumanize them solely due to their identity, noting the harmful implications it holds for the queer and trans community.
Terakes eloquently expressed, “Eliminating trans actors on screens will not eliminate trans people… but it will eliminate a lot of hope. And hope is such a large part of how we live as marginalized people. It’s how we learn to move through the hatred and the mistreatment and the violence.”
The incident serves as a poignant reminder of the vital role that representation plays in promoting understanding, empathy, and acceptance. The film industry, as a powerful platform for storytelling, has the potential to challenge stereotypes and bridge gaps between different communities. The ban of “Talk to Me” underscores the importance of supporting LGBTQ+ talent and acknowledging their contribution to the art form.
As conversations about diversity and inclusion continue to gain momentum within the entertainment industry, the ban on “Talk to Me” serves as a stark example of the challenges that queer and trans individuals still face in many parts of the world. However, the response from Causeway Films, Bankside Films, and Zoe Terakes highlights the resilience and determination of the LGBTQ+ community to overcome such obstacles and champion their identities.
The film industry’s solidarity in this situation sends a powerful message that art knows no boundaries, and discrimination will not silence the voices of marginalized individuals. As filmmakers and audiences worldwide stand with Zoe Terakes, they reaffirm the importance of celebrating diverse identities and the narratives that reflect the reality of the human experience.