Screened as part of NZIFF 2002

All About My Father 2001

Alt om min far

Directed by Even Benestad

Denmark / Norway In Norwegian with English subtitles
75 minutes 35mm



Bjørn Eivind Aarskog
Ola K. Hunnes


Even Benestad
August B. Hansen


Bjørn Eivind Aarskog


Erik Andersson


John Erik Kaada


Berlin 2002


Respecting your father’s right to dress in women’s clothing could be a stretch for most adolescent males. Acknowledging that your father is a woman might well prove impossible. And yet, in 25-year-old Even Benestad’s elegantly documented account of life with his transvestite father, the tension between supremely self-assured father and disenchanted son seems as familiar as the Oedipus complex. 

Ebsen Benestad began dressing in women’s clothing when he was 12. He managed to keep his female alter-ego, Esther Pirelli, under cover until sprung by his wife, the filmmaker’s mother, after several years of marriage. Two decades, a divorce and a new marriage later, Esther flourishes as Norway’s champion of transgender rights, while Ebsen, the well-respected small-town doctor, is less and less to be seen. Benestad Jr is able to draw on a telling selection of family movies; and he lets Ebsen and Esther strut their stuff for his own camera. He interviews them both, along with his sister, his mother and Elsa, Ebsen’s second wife, a sexologist whose acceptance of Esther has been a major factor in Esther’s liberation. These people are admirably adept and concise in the language of psychological trauma. Without a hint of neurotic prevarication, Benestad Jr tackles the painful questions head-on, inviting us to consider how becoming what we truly feel ourselves to be can affect the equally valid needs of people closely related to us. — BG 

My father gave this statement in a personal interview during the production of the pilot. ‘I would think that if someone should say something about me that was true, it would be that I am incredibly egocentric and self-occupied. And I am. Sometimes it becomes too much and I offend people. Other time I think it is important to act the way I do in order to change the world.’ The quote paints a good picture of the essence of the film. During a telephone conversation with Dad, I said that we also needed to have pain and sensitivity in the film, Dad’s immediate response was ‘What pain? What sensitivity? I cannot see any great conflicts in our family…’ — Even Benestad