November 26, 2019 at 5:37 pm PST | by Roman Randall
Everybody Changes is a Panamanian cinematic breakthrough

Jassiel, Gretel Roux, and Gaby Gnazzo in Todos Cambiamos (Photo from IMBD 2019)

Every November and December, Angelenos experience a type of celebratory cheer that goes beyond the traditional Holiday reveries: “For Your Consideration” television and film media campaigns pop up like Christmas Trees all over town.

Film Production and distribution company from across the globe snap up media vying for the attention of Golden Globe and Oscar members who nominate and ultimately vote for Hollywood’s most coveted film prizes.

There was once a time (say 5 years ago) where all we saw plastered around town were big budget movies, one dimensional stories that lacked multiculturalism and — in particular —  LGBTQ images.

But marketing now demands diversity and a ride along Sunset Blvd from Echo Park to West Hollywood features beautiful LGBTQ images and castmembers from shows like STARZ’s VIDA to HBO’S Euphoria, showcasing inclusion at its finest. 

You may soon find media promotions everywhere for “Everybody Changes,” a Best International Picture entry into the Golden Globes and Academy Award race, a Panamanian film that tells the story of Frederico, played brilliantly with tenderness and compassion by Arantxa de Juan, who is determined to undergo gender reassignment surgery and live the rest of his life as a woman, Lizzie. Just one little thing in the way – his marriage to his wife Carol and their 3 young sons. Initially the family struggles but is ultimately able to remain united in the face of a society that ostracizes them as Lizzie begins to live her truth.

Written and directed by Arturo Montenegro, “Everybody Changes” is based on a true story and gives us an example of how difficult life can be like for someone living in a repressive nation that allows discrimination against LGBT people. Montenegro, who is an out gay Latino, says the film “uncovered an even more taboo subject (aspect) in Panamanian Society: the existence of diverse families. The real-life of trans people in the country is submerged in homophobia, the product of a crisis in freedom of thought.”

The powerful story that is “Everybody Changes” motivated New Cadence Productions to buy the North American rights to the film and to push it during the “For Your Consideration” runup to Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. “Everybody Changes is a deeply moving film and will hopefully shed a light on the issues facing the LGTBQ community. We hope Hollywood will support it for its social importance, ” said New Cadence principal, Jeff Valdez.

New Cadence executives are aware that part of the marketing puzzle during FYC time is outreach to Los Angeles’ LGBTQ groups and leaders. 

 Their recent screening welcomed LGBTQ community organizations. representing such as Latino Equality Alliance and Somos Familia Valle who brought one of their own members, Justin, a 15 year old Transmale who was recently kicked out of his house by his father.

Justin tearfully stood up during the Q&A and thanked the producers and filmmakers. “Now that I have seen this movie, I have hope that I can really Live,” he said.

At the post screening dinner, hosted by Transgender Activist, Model and Actress, Carmen Carrera, the New Cadence team mentioned that after listening to Justin’s story at the screening they knew they had made the right decision acquiring “Everybody Changes,” and underscored their commitment to the film’s visibility.

“We are thrilled that New Cadence Productions believes in this film not only for its film artistry, but also its social impact. This is the very first LGTBQ film produced in Panama and selected to represent our country for the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. Its production has not been an easy ride as many right-wing groups have tried to boycott the film. We even had bomb threats during its release,” said Producer, Gina Cochez.

A long way to go indeed and Hollywood and “awards season” will hopefully be instrumental in this compelling journey for the Transgender community in Panama, internationally and domestically as well.

“Everybody Changes” is currently up “For your Consideration”.

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