Estibaliz Urresola’s delicate debut feature 20,000 Species of Bees – for which its young star Sofía Otero won the Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance at 2023’s Berlin Film Festival – is a tender, heartfelt drama about an eight-year-old’s indelible summer holiday of self-discovery.
Otero plays a trans girl, who rejects her given name Aitor, perplexed by the gender binaries that rule her world. An inquisitive soul with a thirst for knowledge, she loves to learn new words and skills, and questions why she doesn’t feel certain of who she is when it seems so easy for her older siblings. As she spends the summer in the Basque Country, learning new skills with her great aunt, the village beekeeper, she finally feels freer to be herself.
Reminiscent of Céline Sciamma’s Tomboy in its considered authenticity, 20,000 Species of Bees offers a child’s eye view of growing up, delving into its lead’s struggles with humanity and grace.