NZIFF: My Top Tips to watch French-Speaking films #1 Girlhood

You’ll find many good french-speaking films at the NZIFF. So, I’ve decided to help you choose which one you’d like to watch. I’ll post a portrait of each of my favorites!

Girlhood  by Céline Sciamma: * Real Diamonds in the Sky**

What’s about?

Marieme, a young black girl from some Parisian suburban ghettos, is underperforming at school & receives no help from home. Still insecure concerning her femininity, she falls in a group of big-mouthed girls. It opens her new horizons. A tied friendship is born. But will these determined & joyful girls succeed in finding their role as women in a male-centric environment?

Why do I like it? :

I wrote a rave review about Girlhood for my Belgian magazine Cinergie last year. Since that time, I still have the movie in mind – its frenetic pace, its freshness, its style. The beautiful black teens are stunning; each shot shows them shouting for life. You’ll easily recognize my favourite scene: Rihanna herself loved it so much that she accepted to let director Céline Sciamma use one of her more famous songs without paying any rights.

Who are these black girls laughing loud & dancing proud? Everybody comes across them in the subway, but no one knows who they are. This movie grew out of the desire to get a closer look at their life. The French female director ended up creating a declaration of love to these teenagers, full of life and spontaneity. They are sublimely shot, with a use of symmetry in composition, and a use of light and colours that sublimate the girls and reflects a real control of storytelling.

In Girlhood, her third feature, Sciamma continues to explore how the feminine identity shapes itself. Passionate about gender studies in general, she already focused on the sexual awakening of girls in Waterlillies (2006). She also related the trouble sexuality of a little girl that pretends to be a boy in Tomboy (2010). This time, she creates a protagonist that wants to break free from the pressure of men & struggle to find her own identity. This coming-of-age movie raises the question if there is any issue for this generation. Sciamma won’t give us any answer. But his brilliant final shows a possible way: instead of running away, Marieme is now ready to move toward her own destiny.

In my next post, I’ll tell you about the enfant terrible of the Canadian Cinema. Any idea? 🙂

Edith Mahieux


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