I watch a lot of films that eventually either have a theatrical or festival release, and I’m noticing a lot of commonalities among them. This isn’t a complain, though, because Estíbaliz Urresola‘ 20,000 Species of Bees probably displays the best versions of those archetypes in possibly the best film of this year’s Inside Out fest if not one of the best of the whole year so far. A complex family has two major members. The first is the maternal figure, Ane (Patricia López Arnaiz), who is a sculptor returning from France to Basque country to work on her controversial father’s workshop. She’s going through a lot including a trial separation and raising a child who she considers as genderqueer. That child calls herself Coco (Sofía Otero) for now. ‘Coco’ is the second major character and she’s going through the pains of being trans in a heteronormative, microaggressive world.
20,000 Species of Bees‘ ace card is its performances. However, its underrated feature is how it shows the psychology behind its characters. A lot of the psychology deals with how the characters treat ‘Coco’. But it also sheds light on what she does without overexplanation. Attitudes like ” ‘boys’ don’t belong in girls’ bathrooms”, or a child acting out. Or another child telling Coco that she knows a ‘boy’ with a fanny. It doesn’t feel the need to dig too deep to find who teaches these characters how to behave. All that would do is either give face to mustache twirling bigot or an archetypal saint. Although yes, Coco’s grandmother Lourdes (Ane Gabarain) comes close as her only familial ally. ‘Coco,’ who eventually calls herself Lucia, needs to be around that natural beauty. When the bad days come, Lucia learns that her family loves her without any conditions.