Just a few weeks after its screening at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight, Celine Sciamma’s third film, Girlhood, has been picked up for American distribution (it has also sold throughout Europe).
Sciamma, the director of Water Lilies and Tomboy, was inspired to make a drama about black female adolescence in the banlieus after observing similar girls hanging out in the malls and outside the subway stations in Paris.
“I was fascinated by their energy, their group dynamics, their attitude, style and way of dressing… I wanted to find out more about them,” she told Screen Daily. “They’re not gangs in the US sense of the word; just big groups of friends… They face a particular set of challenges but at the same their stories are consistent with the themes I’ve explored in my other work such as the construction of feminine identity and friendships between girls… the film is basically a coming-of-age tale.”
Karidja Toure stars as Marieme, a 15-year-old in a difficult family situation and no interest in school. When she meets a trio of carefree tough girls, she ditches the only existence she’s known to join their clique — and changing her name, her dress, and her life to do so.
The Playlist’s Jessica Kiang was thoroughly impressed by Girlhood, writing in her Cannes review,
“Anchored by a brilliant central performance from newcomer Toure, who is fearless in the honesty of her portrayal of the girl’s vulnerability but also her burgeoning ruthlessness, the film manages that rare feat of feeling both specific and universal. So while it is rooted in its place and time, Marieme’s story also takes on a wider resonance, as we watch her not so much come of age as deconstruct and reconstruct herself, several times over — even though her circumstances trap her, she acts with the kind of agency we rarely see female characters display, let alone black female characters, let alone black female teenagers.”
Girlhood is currently planned for an early 2015 rollout.