The “20,000 Species of Bees” review explores the challenges of a transgender child’s search for acceptance within their family’s environmental community.


This poignant family drama, the first feature film from Basque director Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren, captures a sense of tenderness and fragility. It highlights how a child’s struggles and the challenges faced by adults in dealing with them are interconnected within the complex emotional dynamics of the extended family.

Ane, who is a sculptor, resides in the south-west region of France. She is facing financial issues and struggles in her marriage with Gorka. They have three children, with the most troubled being Cocó. The eight-year-old’s anxieties and self-doubt become apparent when Ane takes the children to the Basque Country in Spain for a summer vacation. They stay with Ane’s widowed mother Lourdes, who is now dedicated to beekeeping but used to manage finances for her husband, an artist like Ane.

Originally, Cocó’s given name was the boy’s name Aitor. However, she now goes by the nickname Cocó, though she no longer feels comfortable with it and asks to be called “Lucía” instead. Interestingly, Lucía finds solace and joy in spending time with her grandmother and her diverse collection of bees. However, challenges arise when a family christening approaches and Lucía is expected to wear formal attire, which she wants to be a dress. Sadly, Lucía even expresses a desire to die and be reborn as a girl.

Ane respects Lucía’s gender identity, even though it is not explicitly stated. However, she has some concerns and her husband believes it is premature to think about this. Ane also struggles with her own identity as an artist. She plans to work on sculpture projects in her late father’s workshop over the summer, which brings up painful memories for her mother. This is because Ane’s father gained a negative reputation in the community for taking nude photos of young girls. Ane’s grandmother, who is accepting of using female pronouns for Lucía, advises Ane not to ignore Lucía’s wishes like she did with her husband’s actions.

The comparison brings up interesting thoughts. The argument between Ane and her mother about the worth of Ane’s career as an artist has a strong emotional impact that the rest of the film may lack. However, overall, it is a heartfelt and well-acted movie.