CALL ME MARIANNA (Mow Mi Marianna)

Karolina Bielawska, PL 2015, 74'
Call Me Marianna
International Premiere
Mon 10.8.2015, 11.00, Cinema Teatro Kursaal
Tue 11.8.2015, 14:00, Palavideo

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The Klapczynski’s old home movies are no different from those of other families. They are bright and grainy, showing Wojciech, father, metro train driver and owner of a detached house, beach. The images have an authentic footage, the opposite is the case. Home movies never show the dark moments Many years later, this man will admit to his loved ones that he cannot continue living in the wrong body and that he will undergo gender reassignment treatment. Irreversibly. This film shows what it is like to live as a transgender person – not only in Catholic Poland. He loses his dismayed wife and the daughters who are now grown up. He has to face his parents in court in order to renounce his name – a legal procedure mandated by applicable Polish law irrespective of the person’s age. His mother will most likely never address him as Marianna. He endures the loss of his friends as well as his colleagues’ ridicule: They give him their wives’ used lipsticks as a farewell gift. To pay for the excessively expensive operation, Wojciech saves money by renouncing his apartment. Instead, he sleeps in the back of his car during lonely winter nights.

But inside of him, there’s always also Marianna. Attractive, vivacious, courageous, passionate, uncompromising – and blissfully happy as she wakes from anaesthesia. She is fortunate to meet new people: a young woman who would rather be a man and Andrzej. She is wearing white skates as they perform pirouettes on the ice together.

Marianna hesitated for a long time before committing to this project, remembers Karolina Bielawska, the director of the film. How intimately may or must this story be presented? Inspired by Marianna’s fate, Bielawska wrote a stage piece together with Joanna Owsianko. Working with two actors in a stage rehearsal, Marianna goes through the entire dialogue, which reimagines key events from her life. The performers ask questions, consistently talking about her in the third person. By using reflective visualisation in the manner of psychological drama and immediate, documentary-style observation, a disturbing portrait emerges that nevertheless brims with hope and compassion.

If it were not for a cruel twist in the story that pains us right from the beginning: Marianna enters the rehearsal stage pushed in a wheelchair. With this tragic blow – which is explained only later in the film – a brutal reality has taken the reins, also over the film production. The life of this woman of faith surfaces in every respect as a life of passion. One may vividly guess which price Marianna had to pay for her new identity.

Martin Walder