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They are all women of a certain age; blue-haired ladies using canes, well-preserved sixty-year-olds walking small dogs in the park, or aging beauties meeting old beaus for a posh lunch. And they all have one thing in common: Dr. Georges Burou, who in the ’60s and ’70s operated a clinic in Casablanca where he performed groundbreaking sex-change surgeries.
In this beautifully photographed documentary, five transwomen reflect back on their lives as women, and the various paths that led them to surgery. In a mixture of interviews, home-movies, and scenes of their daily lives, we hear their stories. April, now every inch the British dowager, remembers her mother’s rejection and her early years in the navy. Corinne and Bambi reminisce about their days as showgirls at Le Carrousel in Paris and Colette talks about the difficulties of post-op dating; meanwhile, Jean recounts a life spent travelling back and forth across gender borders.
The film is as much about aging as it is about changing genders. “Once you’ve got white hair, you seem to disappear,” April observes. Now single, Corinne says she misses cuddling, but adds, “there are lots of single women; it’s the same for heterosexuals.” The mood is elegiac, but also triumphant—April tells us that she wakes up every morning with some of the joy she felt waking up for the first time post-surgery. These are self-made women in every sense of the term.
Awards: 2012, Honorable Mention for Outstanding Documentary, Frameline 36
Join Michiel van Erp in a Q & A after the film.
In 1996 Michiel van Erp started his career as a documentary maker with ‘Lang Leve...’ (‘Long Live…’), a documentary series of 59 episodes for television, about Dutch people and their hopes and desires. He won national and international prices with these series. His long documentary ‘A Funfair behind the Dikes’ (2007), about the leisure industry in the Netherlands was a huge success in Dutch cinemas and shown at many filmfestivals around the world. In 2009 the documentary ‘Fear’ followed. This movie about people struggling with various anxiety disorders caused quite a stir when it was released in Dutch cinemas. Van Erp’s films cover many subjects, for example ‘Forget Me Not’ (2002) a portrait of singer Mary Servaes, from the perspective of her fans, ‘Stuck’ (2008), which shows how people spend their time while stuck in traffic, ‘On Beauty and Fall’ (2009) about the famous photographer Erwin Olaf, and ‘Beatrix, Queen’ (2009) a portrait of Dutch queen Beatrix and her namesakes. His most recent documentary ‘I am a woman now’ (2012) covers the first generation of transsexuals, who had their sex change in Casablanca back in the 1950s to 1970s. Van Erp also makes television series, directs theatre plays and recently published his first book.