Hands down the best movie I saw in Toronto (and I saw some pretty great films this year), Girlhood is about pride. Not the sinful inflated sense of self worth kind of pride. Rather, the feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people kind of pride. Yet many in society — both inside and outside of their community - would condemn these young women for having a sense of self worth. For not settling for the life that is expected for them. For these young black women growing up in the poor suburbs of Paris (les banlieues) self worth...pride...is a often seen as a sin.
With this, her third feature film after the auspicious debut Water Lilies and the equally compelling Tomboy, Céline Sciamma proves that she is turning into a filmmaker of considerable confidence and authority. Bande de filles is a raucous, raw, and tender look at a group of black high-school students living in the tough suburban banlieues of Paris.
Grounded by an incendiary performance from Karidja Touré, Sciamma's film locates a kinetic, irresistible energy amid the nondescript housing projects, shopping centres, and outdoor plazas in which, for these strutting young characters, attitude prevails. Touré plays Marieme, a shy sixteen-year-old who falls in with a small crew of friends after low grades prevent her from continuing her studies. This foursome soon forms a tight unit bent on pushing the limits. In the face of peer pressure and the need to be cool, Marieme finds herself navigating dangerous waters. But it isn't long before she finds a way to assert her own voice and a new-found sense of power.
See it if you have the chance. So fuckin' good.
A second trailer:
Bonus: Video of the Q&A with the amazing lead actor Karidja Touré (spoiler: this is her first acting role and she was discovered at park).