Opening Reception, 6:30 p.m. / Film at 7 p.m.
Introduction by Prof. Evelyn Perry, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Rhodes College
Girlhood, Céline Sciamma’s third feature, continues to probe what has been this perceptive writer-director’s abiding interest: female pubescence and adolescence, the stage when bodies and identities are still in flux. Set in the banlieues (low-income housing projects) that ring Paris and are home to many of its French-African citizens, Girlhood focuses on Marieme (Karidja Touré), a sixteen-year-old who assumes responsibility for her two younger sisters while their mother works the night shift; the teenager must also frequently absorb the wrath of her tyrannical older brother. School provides no haven from these hardships. Having already repeated a grade twice, Marieme is told that vocational training is her only option. Rather than accept this indignity, she falls in with a triad of tough girls, abandoning her braids for straightened hair, her hoodie for a leather jacket—and learning the pleasures of raising hell at malls in Les Halles and impromptu dance-offs on the Métro. Led by the swaggering Lady (Assa Sylla), this crew—whose members are all played by charismatic first-time performers—boosts Marieme’s confidence. “You have to do what you want,” Lady exhorts her; patiently and astutely, Girlhood follows Marieme as she tries to put this mantra into practice while being repeatedly reminded of her severely limited options.