Netflix’s Fanfic: Is the Polish Movie Based on Real Life?

Netflix’s ‘Fanfic’ is a Polish LGBTQ+ coming-of-age drama film directed by Marta Karwowska. Originally titled ‘Fanfik,’ it stars Alin Szewczyk, Jan Cieciara, and Wiktoria Kruszczynska, among others. The drama movie follows the story of Toseik, a moody teen who traverses through high school and writes fanfictions on the internet to escape from his reality. Soon, he starts to experiment with gender identity and presentation and makes discoveries that change his life for the better.

‘Fanfic’ paints a realistic picture of Toseik’s journey as a transgender boy and explores LGBTQ+ relationships alongside themes of society, discrimination, and teenagehood. In doing so, it presents an authentic portrayal of Gen-Z and their relationship with gender and sexuality. As such, many people might wonder about this movie’s roots in reality. In that case, here is everything you need to know about the true origin of ‘Fanfic’ and its social relevance.

Fanfic is an Adaptation of a 2016 Novel

No, ‘Fanfic’ is not based on a true story. Instead, it is an adaptation of the eponymous 2016 Polish novel by Natalia Osińska, illustrated by Olga Budzan. The author is primarily known for depicting the lives of LGBTQ+ youth in Poland through her work. Her debut book, ‘Fanfik,’ revolves around a young teen named Tosia, who likes to read fanfiction about franchises like ‘Avengers‘ and ‘Wicked.’ As the story progresses, Tosia questions her gender and eventually transitions into Toseik. Screenwriters Grzegorz Jaroszuk and Marta Karwowska took inspiration for much of the setting, characters, and plot from Osińska’s fictional novel, crafting a compelling script from the same.

The Netflix movie features the same protagonist and brings Tosiek’s gender-transitioning journey to the screen. By employing a transgender central character, ‘Fanfic’ brings attention to an underrepresented community and strives to provide a relatable story about a teenager’s experience with gender dysmorphia. The story takes place in modern-day Poland and depicts the social reality of the LGBTQ+ community in the country’s socio-political climate. Throughout the movie, queer characters like Toseik and Leon face transphobia and homophobia from their peers.

The latter even encounters violent homophobia at one point in his life, and the traumatic experience leaves long-lasting effects on his character. Although LGBTQ+ rights are progressing in Poland, they still have a ways to go. According to Human Rights Watch’s 2023 World Report, several self-declared “LGBTQ+ Ideology Free” regions/municipalities exist within Poland. These play a significant role in promoting social resistance and hate towards the LGBTQ+ community. Similarly, out of 49 EU countries, ILGA-Europe ranked Poland 42nd in its Rainbow Map, an Annual Review of LGBTQ+ Rights in Europe.

As such, given the European nation’s socio-political environment, many LGBTQ+ Polish teenagers will find relatability and representation in ‘Fanfic’ that reflects their own lives and struggles. Likewise, even non-Polish members of the LGBTQ+ community will find their own selves and experiences portrayed by the narrative. Yet, at the same time, the film also depicts themes of adolescence in such a mundane and grounded way that any teenager, regardless of gender and sexuality, would relate to Toseik and his friends.

In addition, the film’s narrative delves into topics such as cyberbullying, parental pressure, and escapism. Through Toseik’s fanfiction writing and therapy sessions, it talks about a borderline maladaptive daydreaming disorder that many young people will find familiar. Hence, although ‘Fanfic’ is not based on a true story, it still explores real experiences and aims to carve out a safe space for young trans and non-binary people. It’s a coming-of-age tale that focuses on self-discovery and the importance of finding a community. It is deeply rooted in reality without being based on any one incident.

Read More: Where Was Netflix’s Fanfic Filmed?