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An intimate portrait of one of Gaul's first, and classiest, transsexuals.

With: Marie-Pierre Pruvot.

After several fiction features, Gallic helmer Sebastien Lifshitz (“Wild Side”) has successfully turned to documentaries, first with “The Invisible Ones,” which won best docu at the recent French Cesars, and now with “Bambi,” an intimate portrait of one of Gaul’s first, and classiest, transsexuals. An ideal complement to Michiel van Erp’s “I Am a Woman Now,” which looked at sex-change pioneers including Bambi, the hourlong pic also works as a standalone item that affectionately chronicles how an Algiers boy became a Parisian girlie cabaret sensation and then, somewhat surprisingly, a high-school teacher. Berlin’s Teddy winner could appeal beyond the LGBT circuit.

Lifshitz alternates a visit to the childhood home of Bambi (born Jean-Pierre, later Marie-Pierre) with direct-to-cam footage of the protag recalling her difficult youth. A 1952 transvestite spectacular opened Jean-Pierre’s eyes and landed him in Paris at 17 to work at the notorious Carousel club. Bambi’s physical transformation isn’t dwelled on in detail, and more on her 29-year career as an educator wouldn’t have hurt. Assembly is straightforward, but because Bambi’s such an engaging raconteuse, the pic’s often riveting. Tech package is as effortlessly elegant as the protag.

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Production: An Un Monde Meilleur presentation and production, in association with Epicentre Films, with the participation of Canal Plus. (International sales: Doc & Film Intl., Paris.) Executive producer, Carole Mirabello. Directed, written by Sebastien Lifshitz.

Crew: Camera (color, B&W, HD), Sebastien Buchmann; editor, Tina Baz; music, Bambi, Coccinelle, Hassiba Rochdy, Cyrille Aufort, Andre Charlier, Benoit Sourisse, Piero Piccioni, Vivaldi, Jocelyn Pook; sound, Jean-Christophe Lion. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama Dokumente), Feb. 16, 2013. Running time: 58 MIN.

Cast: With: Marie-Pierre Pruvot.

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