A selection of the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, which wrapped up 2 weekends ago, French filmmaker Céline Sciamma’s coming-of-age drama Bande de filles (which translates as Girls Band but, it’s English language title will be Girlhood) film follows Marieme, a high schooler who feels oppressed by her family environment, dead-end future prospects, and the rowdy boys in her neighborhood, whose life gets a much-desired lift when she meets a group of 3 free-spirited girls. She changes her name, her dress code, and quits school to be accepted by her new friends, hoping that becoming a part of their clique will provide her with the escape she’s long wanted.
Writer-director Celine Sciamma’s enormously satisfying third feature proves that her beguiling sensitivity to girls’ growing pains is not confined to the white middle-class. Newcomer Karidja Toure makes a mesmerizing impression as a teenager drawn into a black girl-gang in the Paris suburbs in Celine Sciamma’s expertly judged drama.
An engrossing look at the way a young woman of color defines her own identity vis-a-vis the various spheres of support in her life — family, school, friends and so forth — Celine Sciamma’s “Girlhood” advances the French helmer’s obsession with how society attempts to force teenage girls into familiar categories, when the individuals themselves don’t conform so easily. As in “Water Lilies” and “Tomboy” before this, Sciamma pushes past superficial anthropological study to deliver a vital, nonjudgmental character study, this time following 16-year-old Marieme as she seeks her path amid a “girl gang” (a better translation of the French title, “Bande de filles”).
“I was fascinated by their energy, their group dynamics, their attitude, style and way of dressing… I wanted to find out more about them,” said the filmmaker. “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.”
Check out a teaser for the film below, which doesn’t give you much (it is called a teaser), but the footage here has my attention: