From her earliest childhood in Algiers, Marie-Pierre only wants to wear dresses and stubbornly refuses to use the first name given to her at birth, Jean-Pierre. Marie-Pierre’s life takes a radical turn at age seventeen upon discovering a review about a transvestite cabaret on tour, "le Carrousel de Paris".
Bambi by Sébastien Lifshitz (2021)
In a few years, Marie-Pierre moves to Paris and becomes Bambi, a mythical figure of Parisian cabarets of the 1950s and 1960s; she performs by night, while teaching French in middle school by day. By gathering the shimmering testimony of one of France’s first public transgender people on film, Sébastien Lifshitz pursues the work he started in Les Invisibles, and documents the fate of an outstanding personality.
About the Series
“Mauvais Genres: French Cinema Takes on Gender” presents nine fiction films and documentaries that were produced or co-produced in France and have never or rarely been shown in New York. Seven of these are recent films, while the two films that open and close the series are classics. These films take questions of gender identity and sexual orientation head on, through emancipatory explorations and revolutionary projects, often intimately and politically combative, presenting collective portraits and personal biographies as well as character-driven stories.
“Mauvais Genres” is an ironic pun on a French expression that can mean “bad kind,” “bad manners,” or “bad impression,” and can also mean “wrong” or “mistaken” gender. It is also a nod to filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz, whose work is highlighted with three selections in this festival, since he used “Mauvais Genre” in the singular as the title of an exhibition about his work. The heroines and heros of these films defy the identities or destinies of gender or sexual orientation that are assigned to them, whether they’re appearing on self-made clips live streamed on youtube or in a mythological village in the Sahel.
This event is featured as part of the film festival, Mauvais Genres: French Cinema Takes on Gender organized by the Columbia Maison Française and curated by Nora Philippe. Additional support is provided by Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Knapp Family Foundation, Paul LeClerc Centennial Fund, Columbia University Institute for Ideas and Imagination, Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities.