Coby, by Christian Sonderegger

1 min

Coby, by Christian Sonderegger

With tenderness and humour, Christian Sonderegger tells the story of his half-sister’s Suzanna's sex-change, in a transformational documentary carrying the name of the man she has become: Coby.

© Ciaofilm

From cinematographer to director

After studying at the Louis-Lumière École Nationale Supérieure, Christian Sonderegger worked as a director of photography for ten years. In 1996, he decided to take his career in a new direction by studying screenwriting at the Fémis in Paris.


After writing for several feature films, he founded his own production company, Ciaofilm, in 1998. He then made three short films – The Fear of the Void (“La Peur du vide”), 1999; Indecency (“Indécence”), 2001; Millefeuille, 2009 – before taking on Coby, which was released in 2017.




Coby’s metamorphosis

Nicknamed Coby, Jacob is a young midwestern man. What makes him a little different? He was born a girl. Christian Sonderegger's documentary recounts the sex-change that Suzanna decided to undergo at the age of 23. More than the physical transformation, the film tries to highlight the impact of this decision on Coby's family and close friends.


Suzanna’s transition to become Coby shakes up her own self-perception, but also that of her loved ones. With tact and grace, Christian Sonderegger invites you on this path towards acceptance, of yourself and others.



A family story

In order to document Coby’s transformation in as much detail as possible, Christian Sonderegger used many videos shot by the young man and his girlfriend, Sara, during the physical transformation. This intimacy within the film gives it great nuance in dealing with its themes, especially the question of identity.


It is an intimacy which derives its authenticity from Christian Sonderegger’s ties with his subject, as Coby is his half-brother. This complicity allows the film to avoid the pitfall of sensationalism and find a kind of harmony.


Global enthusiasm

Christian Sonderegger's documentary has been a great success internationally. Presented for the first time as part of the ACID (Association for the Distribution of Independent Cinema) program at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, the film was then nominated and screened at numerous festivals in Europe (the Festival of International Film in Zürich and Thessaloniki, the LGBT Festival in London, among others), Asia (including the Istanbul International Film Festival) and the Americas (at the Cleveland and Guadalajara International Film Festivals, among others).


This enthusiasm has delighted Coby, who wanted to show that a gender transition is possible and can be accepted.

Coby, by Christian Sonderegger
The Institut français and the project

Coby (2017) is distributed internationally by the Institut français as part of the "Cannes ACID French Touch" series.


The Institut français offers a catalogue of over 2,500 films, allowing the French cultural network and its partners to screen French films around the world. 


 Learn more about the film catalogue.