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(aka "Call Me Madame" )

 

directed by Françoise Romand
France 1986

 

...Call Me Madame (1986) is nonetheless a provocative and memorable work. It's a multifaceted portrait of Ovida Delect—a communist poet and novelist living near Rouen who's published close to 40 books. Tortured by the Gestapo at 17 as a member of the French underground and honored by Paul Eluard, she's a 60-year-old who had a sex-change operation at the age of 55. Formerly known as Jean-Pierre Voidies, she continues to live with her former wife and 20-year-old son, both of whom reveal some of the difficulties they've encountered living with such a singular and egocentric individual. As with Mix-up, Romand labels this film a “fictional documentary” because its subject and style relate to Delect's self-image as well as her objective reality. Indeed Delect controls Call Me Madame just as she controls her own persona, depriving the film of the free-ranging imagination of Romand's other two features. But it's still a subversive and subtle statement that you'll think about for days afterwards.

Excerpt of review from Jonathan Rosenbaum located HERE

Theatrical Release: June 19th, 1988 (US)

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DVD Review: Alibi Productions - Region 0 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Alibi Productions

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 51:10
Video

4:3 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.53 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio French (LPCM 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Alibi Productions

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 4:3

Edition Details:
• Biography of Françoise Romand
• DVD Production Credits

DVD Release Date: April 20th, 2009
Slim Cardboard Case

Chapters 10

 

Comments

Francoise Romand’s “Appelez-moi Madame”, released in single layered disc last year by Alibi Films, was a real treat to catch on a blind viewing. The film itself is a short documentary piece about Ovida Delect, who, up until recently, was known as Jean-Pierre. Ovida defies the typical stereotypes that one might place on a transgendered person. She was married and has a son, fought with the resistance during World War II, and nearly died in a Nazi forced labor camp. Since becoming a woman, Ovida is, as she tells us, an “authoress and a poetess…a citizen of the word" and still maintains her active role in the local communist party. What’s most fascinating about Romand’s documentary isn’t necessarily the subject itself (although the strong-willed Ms. Delect does make for an entertaining subject), but rather the warmth and humanity that the documentarian conveys in her subject using only Ovida’s own words. To be sure, we get a contrarian’s view here as well as when we see the pain that Ovida has brought into her family with her decision, but on the whole her ebullient personality shines through in this treat.

While the presentation here isn’t ideal, it is still competent and likely the best that this film will ever look. Although the imdb (never the place to go to for technical details) lists the film as being shot on 35 mm stock, to my eyes, it looks a bit more like 16 mm film, although I could be wrong. The colors here are rather washed out and the image itself soft and flat, but this is probably close to what the film looked like upon its initial release in 1986. On the positive side, so far as I could tell, there was no damage or manipulation to be found in the print and over all I found it quite acceptable.

The audio on the release is in the original French, but before we even get to the main menu, we can choose optional English subtitles—the only ones on the disc. The soundtrack here is presented in LPCM 2.0 and sounded quite good on my player. The voices and the music here are constantly clear and there are no discernable instances of unwanted background noise.

The extras on the disc consist of a short filmography of Romand and a pair of follow up documentaries recounting the production of the film. Unfortunately, because of time constraints, I was unable to give my full attention to either extra, but from what I saw they should be of interest to anyone who enjoyed the film.

I can honestly call this film an unexpected treat. Having never heard of it or the director before I was sent it in the mail, I had no idea what to expect when I popped it in. Fortunately, what I found was a delightfully entertaining and moving story of one tough lady. Recommended for those interested and don’t forget that its region free!

 - Brian Montgomery

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Alibi Productions

Region 0 - NTSC

 

 




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