A fictionalized film about the life of transgender pioneer Lili Elbe premiered Saturday at the Venice International Film Festival.

The audience in the Sala Grande rose to their feet after its showing, giving The Danish Girl a 10-minute standing ovation.

In the film, British actor Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) plays Elnar Wegener, who is asked by his wife, illustrator and artists Gerda Wegener (played by Alicia Vikander), to stand in for a female model. The paintings became wildly popular in 1920's Copenhagen. Gerda's dressing of her husband as Lili ultimately led him to his historic 1931 operation. The transformation shocked the world and threatened the couple's marriage.

The movie has been criticized for not casting a transgender actor in the lead role.

Tom Hooper, who directed the film, told The Guardian that the film industry currently limits the roles available to trans actors.

“Access for trans actors to both trans and cisgender roles is utterly key,” Hooper said. “In the industry at the moment there is a problem: there is a huge pool of talent of trans actors, and access to parts is limited. I would champion any shift where the industry embraces trans actors, and celebrates trans film-makes.”

“In our film, Lili is presented as a man for two-thirds of the movie, and her transition happens quite late on, so that played a part in coming to a decision [to cast Redmayne],” he said, then noted that the film includes “40 or 50” trans actors in supporting roles.

“I'm pleased we achieved what we did, but I'm sure there's more to do,” Hooper said. “What I hope is that the film shows is that the only way possible to make inclusion happen is through compassion and love.”

The Danish Girl arrives in theaters November 27. (A trailer for the film is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)