Crossing is a must-watch trans arthouse drama. Here’s what you need to know

Crossing still: a teenage boy asleep on an older woman's shoulder

Trans drama Crossing is the latest film from director Levan Akin.

Also written by Akin, the arthouse film is a journey of identity that stretches from Georgia to Turkey, and follows Lia’s (Mzia Arabuli) search for her trans niece, Tekla, who has fled to Istanbul. 

While Akins’ critically acclaimed And Then We Danced charted the heady romance of two young male dancers in Georgia, the Swedish filmmaker’s latest work crosses generations, cultures and borders. 

A new trailer shows Lia exploring unknown streets, becoming embedded in Turkey’s transgender community as she desperately tries to find a person she no longer knows. 

Between parties, dancing and hazy neon lighting, Crossing is an uplifting and compassionate portrait of Istanbul’s trans community and the fact allies can be found in unexpected places. 

A woman, Lia, dancing in a busy street of Istanbul. Her arms are lifted and she's spotlighted.
Mzia Arabuli stars as Lia in Crossing. (MUBI/Haydar Taştan)

Following the release of And Then We Danced, the Georgian Orthodox Church and the country’s ultra-conservative groups branded the film “revolting.” Hundreds protesters staged a demonstration outside the Amirani Cinema, in the capital Tbilisi, and attempted to break in and stop the film being shown.

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The cinema was forced to lock the doors, and a police guard escorted the audience away from the venue after the screening.

Akin has also directed on the small screen, including the TV adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire

What is the plot of Crossing?

Retired schoolteacher Lia arrives in the Turkish capital Istanbul with Georgian teenager Achi, who claims to know where long-lost Tekla lives. Hoping to bring her home, the pair seek help from Evrim, a transgender lawyer.

The tender drama straddles a late coming-of-age story and a portrayal of how divides can be bridged.

Crossing still: a woman and a man walking alongside the ocean on a busy path
Crossing is set for release on 19 July. (MUBI/Haydar Taştan)

What are reviews saying about Crossing?

Crossing currently has a 100 per cent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, with 10 fresh reviews. 

Little White Lies described the film as: “Sweet without being cloying, a love letter to the commonalities between Georgian and Turkish culture, one that encourages empathy and reminds us it’s never too late to change for the better.”

Meanwhile, Variety said: “Akin makes a calculated choice to raise awareness of the trans community in Istanbul, but he does so through representation rather than manipulation.” 

And Screen Daily noted: “It’s seductive, fragmented, involving. It also always bends to his will, as a heart-breaking final act attests… Akin has created two fierce female characters and his film treats them both responsibly.”

When is Crossing released?

Crossing is due to open in the UK and Ireland on 19 July.

It had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in February where it won the Teddy Award jury prize, given to LGBTQ+-themed films.

Crossing will stream exclusively on MUBI from 30 August.  

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