Sunday, November 15, 2015

Call Me Marianna (orig. Mów mi Marianna) [2015]

MPAA (UR would be R)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing listing* listing* interview w. director* [M. Steciak] interview w. director* [B. Staszczyszyn] review
Krakow Movie [Franek] review* [D. Romanowska] review*

Call Me Mirianna (orig. Mów mi Marianna) [2015] [IMDb] []* []* (written and directed by Karolina Bielawska [IMDb] []*) is a moving Polish documentary about Marianna Klapczyńska who began life as Wojtek Klapczyński, was married, had children, and at 47 after many, many painful years of reflection underwent a sex-change / gender reassignment surgery (in Poland) to become Marianna.  The film screened recently at both the recent 51st Chicago International Film Festival and 27th Polish Film Festival in America held subsequently in Chicago (with the director attending both screenings at the latter festival and being able to talk about the experience of making the film and taking Q/A afterwards)

Mariana's story WAS NOT EASY, neither before nor AFTER the surgery.  Polish law requires that a person requesting gender reassignment surgery SUE ONE'S OWN PARENTS for "bad upbringing" apparently so that fault could be assigned in _some way_ to _someone_.   While the documentary did not dwell on the trial, it was clear that it proved to be a nightmare to Marianna, as even after her surgery her mother kept calling her Wojtek.   Marianna's daughters rejected her as well.  The only one in the family who seemed understand (with understandable inner conflict / difficulty) was Wojtek's / Marianna's former spouse, WHO ACTUALLY HELPED MARIANNA and the film maker MAKE THE DOCUMENTARY.

Then honestly, the "big twist" (it is a SPOILER of sorts, BUT IT CERTAINLY ADDS A WHOLE NEW DIMENSION TO THE STORY) is that TWO MONTHS AFTER THE SURGERY, Marianna HAD A STROKE (in good part because of all the hormones she was taking to make the gender reassignment possible).

FORTUNATELY, in those two months, Marianna did actually FIND A BOYFRIEND who since the stroke has _continued to take care of her_.

It's truly a remarkable story and like THE OTHER FILM on transgenderism that I've reviewed here, the recent Finnish film Open Up to Me (orig. Kerron sinulle kaiken) [2014]  that played at this year's 18th Annual Chicago European Union Film Festival, this film reminds ALL VIEWERS that gender reassignment is NOT in ANY WAY a "light matter" (most of all for the person asking for it) and that it is full of ALL KINDS OF CONSEQUENCES that are ALL DIFFICULT and EMOTIONALLY WRENCHING.  And yet there are people who after _many years_ of reflecting on the matter / those consequences, _still_ choose gender reassignment as the _better_ of the available options.  Wow.

Those of us looking and all necessarily judging from outside, are reminded here (and in the case of the Finnish film as well) that we need to take the person's inner struggle to get to the point of requesting such reassignment into our own reflecting on the matter as well.  Again, NO ONE requests this kind of surgery without a great deal of reflection / struggle.

In any case, AN EXCELLENT and very thought provoking film.

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser.

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