Andrea James

Article on ‘Ma Vie En Rose’ (screening 11/19 in Hollywood)

Andrea James

The Ma Vie En Rose screening for Outfest Wednesdays on 19 November at The Egyptian in Hollywood is shaping up to be a lovely event! I’ll be posting additional information as we get closer to the event.

I hope to see you there at 6:30! Just $10 for cocktails, a Golden Globe winning film, and clips from Queens at Heart, Outfest’s latest film restoration via the Legacy Project. Just $7 for members! This is a film that is really lovely on the big screen, with bright, bold fantasy sequences.

This is excerpted from a 1997 interview with Director Alain Berliner, written by my friend Lydia Marcus.

“My Life in Pink” (French title “Ma Vie En Rose”) shows a part of the transgendered continuum never shown before is any of those formats by showing a transgendered child – a seven year old boy who’s already convinced that he is a girl.  In the film, Ludovic (George) lives in an average upper middle class neighborhood with his parents, two older brothers and sister.  At first his parents laugh off his cross-dressing as innocent dress-up, but soon Ludovic makes it clear that he feels he is a girl and has no desire to have any male identity.  The film has heavy drama as Ludovic’s neighbors, school, and even his family grapple with what to think and do about the little boy who thinks he’s a girl, and the film also has a kitchy and campy side through fantasy sequences direct from the child’s mind where everything is Barbiesque pink and a doll named Pam comes to life.

Director Alain Berliner had never made a film before “My Life In Pink.” He had written a string of movies for French television when a friend introduced him to another writer, Chris van der Stappen about possibly working together on a script.  Sitting in his suite at the Bel Age Hotel in West Hollywood, the director from Belgium describes his confusing first meeting with van der Stappen.  “The first time I saw her I had a very strange impression – I was sure (my friend) spoke about a girl – and the first time I saw Chris, it seems to me that (she) was a boy.” Like the Ludovic in the film, Berliner says van der Stappen, “…really thinks that she (is) born in the wrong body.” Though technically still a woman, van der Sappen lives as and passes as a man and is in a relationship with another woman and they have two children.  van der Stappen had already written the first draft of “My Life in Pink” before she met Berliner, and together they co-wrote the final draft.  Berliner says any doubts he ever had about the accuracy of whether or not a 7 year old boy could feel as though he was truly a girl were quickly dispelled by van der Stappen and stories of her own childhood.  He explains, “It was really helpful for some point in the movie, by example, about the strong conviction of Ludovic of what he is.  Sometimes I said, ‘Are you sure that a little kid like that can really be so sure?’ And she said, ‘Yes, I’m sure from the very, very, very beginning of my life.’ So discussing with her and working with her was really helpful to create something very current about the main character.”

Despite being eleven years old, Berliner was able to cast Georges Du Fresne as seven year old Ludovic.  Even seeing Du Fresne in person now, he’s probably still sleight enough physically to carry off a much younger role.  Berliner says he wasn’t looking for a feminine boy, but one that could “Look like an angel.” Wearing makeup and dresses and telling his best friend that he wants to marry him when they grow up, little Du Fresne certainly is sweetly angelic in the film.

With Berliner interpreting his French, Du Fresne revealed that he based a lot of his female qualities on his own twin sister Camille.  If Du Fresne ever had an anxiety about how his friends would react to his role in the film, Berliner says it quickly faded when he realized, “what a great part Ludovic is for an actor.” Also, Berliner says in Du Fresne’s making the movie, “It’s a strange thing but, gives him kind of respectability in the eyes of the other because now they’re impressed, ‘Wow you made a movie, you’ve been to Cannes, you’re on TV, people ask you things.’ So there a few of them were still jealous of it so they said, ‘He he he, you’re just a little faggot.’ But he don’t care.  And the fact is, George isn’t like Ludovic, I mean he’s a boy who thinks he’s a boy and he don’t have any girlfriend or something like that for the moment, but I think that probably will happen (laughs) because he’s arriving at that age.”

So far “My Life In Pink” has done well critically and commercially, it just was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and Berliner was awarded the Golden Camera Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.  And in France, it was a cross-over hit, playing in both art houses and mainstream theaters.

Berliner hopes his film promotes tolerance and understanding of people who fall outside the norm when it comes to gender identity.  Du Fresne echoes that too by saying that he hopes that people will understand a little bit more because of the movie.  Berliner says there can be several readings of what will happen to Ludovic or people like him when they grow up.  “If you’re an adult and you’re gay, a lot of people (see the film) and they told me, ‘It’s my story,’ yes, but it can also be the story of an adult who’s straight now but who wanted to explore the other side of (their) personality – the feminine side or the masculine side.  And it means that it can be kind of phases, during six months, three months, two years, but one day it passed and it’s done and suddenly the guy or the girl says, ‘I’m a boy,’ or ‘I’m a girl,’ and everything’s okay.  The meaning of the movie from my point of view really depends on what you are when you’re an adult, but when you’re a child it’s very difficult because nothing is already set, you see it’s still open.” Girls have been able to dress and act like boys for ages because it’s societally acceptable to be a “tomboy.” Because of “My Life In Pink” and the trials and tribulations of a sweet little “boy” named Ludovic, perhaps a lot more parents will see like Berliner that their son’s futures are “still open,” and let their little boys follow their hearts, even if that means picking up dolls instead of a trucks and donning dresses instead of pants.

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