MADAME takes us onto an intimate journey where Caroline, a flamboyant 90-year-old grandmother and her filmmaker grandson Stéphane explore the development and transmission of gender identity in a patriarchal environment.
Promised to a domestic life in the 1920s, Caroline manages to free herself from the clutches of a forced marriage and becomes a successful businesswoman, defying the social rules of her time. In parallel, Stéphane struggles to play the role everyone expects in his Swiss bourgeois family, until the day he comes out of the closet and sets off on a crusade against homophobia and sexism.
A family saga based on private archive footage, MADAME offers a dialog between this extravagant matriarch and her gay grandson, challenging the taboos of gender and sexuality.
SCREENINGS & AWARDS
2019 World Premiere: Visions du Réel – International Competition
2019 International Premiere: Documenta Madrid – International Competition
- 2019 Kerala International Film Festival (Asian Premiere)
- 2019 Queer Festival Pink Apple in Zurich
- 2019 Locarno International Film Festival – Panorama Suisse
- 2019 FIDBA (Latin American Premiere)
- 2019 QueerPorto
- 2019 Gender Bender,
- 2019 DOC NYC (North American Premiere)
- 2019 KasslerDokfest
- 2019 Taipei Golden Horse
- 2020 Solothurn Film Festival
- 2020 Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival
- 2020 Francophone Film Festival in Vienna (Austrian Premiere)
- 2020 Muestra Internacional Documental de Bogota/MIDBO (Colombian Premiere)
- 2020 Raindance Film Festival (UK Premiere)
More: Llamale H Uruguay, Duisburg Dok Filmwoche, Mezipatra Prague, La RochelleEscales Documentaires, Pink Screens, Verzio IHRFF, Rome Independent FF, image+nationMontreal, Chéries-Chéris Paris, Dunedin IFF, TournaiRamdam Festival, Sebastopol DFF, Festival FIRE!Barcelona, Tel Aviv LGBT FF 2020, Hong Kong Gay and Lesbian FF 2020, OUT FF Kenya 2020, Bari International Gender FF, Exile Film Festival, MyFrench Film Festival, European UnionFF Hong Kong
- The International Competition Jury Prize at the 16th Festival Documenta Madrid, 2019
- Special Jury Award at FIDBA, 2019
- Jury Award and Audience Award for the Best Film at Queer Porto, 2019
- Audience Award at Escales Documentaires, 2019
- Jury Award for Best Documentary and Audience Award at image+nation Montreal, 2019
- Jury Mention at Tournai Ramdam Festival, 2019
- Best Documentary at Dunedin IFF, 2019
- Special Jury Mention Mermaid Award at the Thessaloniki International Documentary Film Festival, 2020
- Team Award Best Documentary at FIRE!! Mostra International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Barcelona, 2020
Madame nominated for Best Documentary at the Swiss Film Awards 2020!
Madame nominated for Audience Award at the 55. Solothurner Filmtage 2020!
“A little miracle. A movie that keeps opening up to the world, that welcomes everyone in his lap.” La Tribune de Genève
“A wonder of sensitivity and relevance.” Le Matin Dimanche
“Very beautiful, both poetic and disturbing, funny and revolting. A moving documentary.” Le Temps
“A self-portrait without concession, of brutal honesty. An anthem to the conquest of freedom.” La Liberté
“A progressive, feminist, humanist, deeply intimate film. A necessary film.”Le 19:30, journal Radio Télévision Suisse RTS
“A manifesto, a declaration of love.” Le 12:45, journal Radio Télévision Suisse RTS
“A movie that comes out of the beaten path and opens the minds.” Daily Movies Magazine
“A fascinating self-portrait, a film that breaks taboos.” Magazine 360
“Deeply moving. A jewel to enjoy without moderation.” Radio Cité Genève
Amazing PRESS REVIEWS in France!
“Intelligent and profound.” Ouest France
“Deeply touching.” Première
“Majestic. Simple. Superb.” French Mania
“Beautiful and moving like when you hug someone you love.” 20 Minutes
“A documentary love-letter to a high-powered grandma. Reality-TV before its time. A deeply personal film.” France TV Info
“Stéphane Riethauser exposes himself to challenge gender issue, to flinch us, to implicate us. A movie film about two people who emancipated from male domination.” L’Humanité
“What if the best stories were our own? What if the biggest adventure was just trying to be oneself? A heart-rending, political home-movie, Madame shows us the fabrication of an identity through the prism of a family, its hidden corners, its tacit rules and its orderly celebrations.” Têtu Magazine
“Riethauser’s film is brave in its transparency. He’s entangling us in his complexities, revealing his true authentic self. This explosively passionate and genuine account of his journey to self-acceptance and expression, is entirely human at its core.” Raindance Film Festival review
DIRECTOR’S BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY
Stéphane Riethauser was born in 1972 in Geneva, Switzerland. He holds a law degree from the University of Geneva. Over the years, he has been working as a teacher, gay activist, photographer, editor, journalist and translator. He is the author of “A visage découvert”, a photography book about coming out (Ed. Slatkine, 2000). Between 2003 and 2008, he worked for Swiss Radio Television RTS as a journalist and director. In 2007 he launched his production company Lambda Prod and started working as an independent filmmaker. He lives in Berlin.
THE GIANTS IN GENEVA, TIME FOR A DREAM, TV doc., 53 min., prod. Point Prod / RTS, 2017
GARDEN OF STARS, doc., HD, 61 min., prod. Lambda Prod, 2016, (cordirector Pasquale Plastino)
Best documentary Berlin Film Award 2017 / Best picture Florence Queer Festival 2017
PRORA, short fiction, HD, 23 min., prod. Lambda Prod, 2012, 15 awards, 125 festivals worldwide
FROZEN IN TIME, The Life of Marius Borgeaud, doc., DV, 62 min., 2007, (codirector Marie-Catherine Theiler)
“One is not born, but rather becomes a man.” It took me a long time to understand this quote of Simone de Beauvoir and to realize the battle my grandmother had to fight in order to exist. It took me a long time to realize that the same goes for the male species: I was not born a man, I became one. According to precepts skillfully maintained by our Judeo-Christian laws and customs, like the vast majority of boys, I was formatted heterosexual, I integrated the homophobic rhetoric and the mandatory macho behavior to be able to play my part as a representative of the “strong sex.” Until I realized I was homosexual and I finally could live with it. I suddenly lost the attributes of my so-called “virility” and fell into the category of the weak sex, and by extension into the category of the faggots. And I had to question the value system that shapes us, boys and girls.
Beyond biological differences, what cultural components, what social obligations are assigned to our gender? What compulsory behavior, what codes govern our appearances and our manners? What idea lies behind gender segregation? How does this segregation influence our relationship with the other sex? And what consequences if we don’t play by the rules?
A double autobiographical portrait of an eccentric woman and her gay grandson, MADAME is a tragicomic study challenging our ideas about woman’s condition, patriarchy, gender identity construction and transmission.
PRODUCER’S BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY
is an independent film production company run by Stéphane Riethauser based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Written, directed and produced by Stéphane Riethauser/Lambda Prod
Assistant director Marie-Catherine Theiler
2nd Assistant director Adrienne Bovet
Image and sound Stéphane Riethauser
Additional image Luc Riethauser, Heike Riethauser, Olivier Riethauser, Marcus Winterbauer, Sarah Blum, Allen Dizerens
Editor Natali Barrey
Editing consultants Yves Beloniak, Sophie Watzlawick
Editor Teaser Yves Beloniak
Script consultant Anas Sareen
Original music compositor David Perrenoud
Original music mix Benoît Mayer
Music credits Michelle Gurevich
Additional music tracks Patrick Juvet, Jean-Michel Jarre, Vladimir Cosma, Richard Sanderson, Toy Dolls, Guiseppe Verdi, Charles Aznavour
Sound editing and mix Martin Stricker
Music supervisor Flore Commandeur
Postproduction coordinator Stefan Epmeier, Ayassi Entertainment
Postproduction assistant Harald Werner
Color grading Horst Riediger
Credits / CGI animation Anja Klein
Marketing consultant Mathias Noschis, Alphapanda
Graphic design Stéphane Hugel
Production Lambda Prod
Coproduction RTS / SRG SSR
With the support of
Cinéforom and Loterie Romande
With the participation of
Succès Cinéma, Succès artistique SSR, La Fondation culturelle Suissimage, La Fondation de Famille Sandoz, La Fondation Ernst Göhner, La Fondation Emilie Gourd, La Fondation Heinrich Hössli, La Ville de Carouge, La Commune de Cologny, La Commune d’Anières, Le Conseil général de l’Essonne et le Festival du cinéma européen en Essonne, Dialogai