Salma Hayek Pinault’s Christmas film centres trans storyline: ‘Accept first, and then understand’

Salma Hayek talks about the heart-warming trans storyline in upcoming Christmas film.

Mexican-American actor and producer Salma Hayek Pinault’s upcoming festive feature El Sabor de la Navidad is shining a much-needed light on trans acceptance within families.

The Spanish language Christmas film, which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival on Wednesday (13 September), is co-produced by the Frida, From Dusk Till Dawn and Black Mirror star under her long-running film production company Ventanarosa.

Directed by Alejandro Lozano and written by Ugly Betty‘s Jose Tamez (who previously worked by Hayek Pinault on Hulu drama Santa Evita in 2022), the drama/comedy follows three different, but intertwined, groups of friends and families in Mexico as they try to grapple with tradition and progress during the most wonderful time of the year.

One of the plots follows a mother (Mónica Dionne) who must learn to accept their trans daughter Penelope over a tense Christmas dinner. Hayek Pinault spoke with Variety about the importance of portraying this mother-daughter relationship onscreen.

“Sometimes when it’s a family member, you have to accept first, and then understand,” the star said.

“But it’s important to go towards that second step, so you’re not tolerating a loved one, but totally loving someone.

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“It’s a movie you can watch with both your transgender best friend and your mother.”

The Oscar-nominated actor joins a growing group of Hollywood stars, including Jamie Lee Curtis, Annette Bening and Gabrielle Union, standing in solidarity with the trans community at a time when the rights of trans people are increasingly under attack across the US.

Meanwhile, Tamez reiterated the power of storytelling when it comes to “resonating” with audiences outside the LGBTQ+ community.

“I was trying to present three stories about love,” he explained, with the other two stories touching on class and our relationship with the internet.

“Being a member of the gay community, that was the story that resonated with me.

“And I thought it could resonate with everyone, regardless of your situation.”

Positive and thought-provoking representation is woven through El Sabor de la Navidad, with great care taken to accurately portray Mexican festive culture.

“We believe in projects that represent the community in the right way, but also makes them think, makes them feel proud of who we are,” Hayek Pinault added. “And we do it under very challenging budgets.”

El Sabor de la Navidad is not the only LGBTQ-inclusive film premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, which runs until 17 September.

There’s also a candid documentary from iconic queer rapper Lil Nas X, the premiere of Fawzia Mirza’s queer Bollywood-themed film The Queen of my Dreams, Elliot Page’s latest feature film Close To You, and Janis Pugh’s lesbian drama Chuck Chuck Baby.