Girlhood - is it being a girl or just girliness?
Girlhood - is it being a girl or just girliness? A bit more mischievous idea of girlhood - 'girl power' or even 'grrrl power' - is based on ideas of capability, scrappiness, freedom, and self-happiness. In contrast to a 'serious womanhood', this idea was born in the 1990s and the punk movement of Riot Grrls, which contested the established social roles and conventions. Girliness is a freedom of choice - a state of mind unbound by metrics. Girlhood is a more delicate concept, slightly forgotten. It is a more subtle, linked to puberty transformation from a child into a woman. Girlhood is a state of change.
"One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman" - the most iconic quote of Simone de Beauvoir defines being a girl as one of the phases on a path to becoming a woman. Being a girl is a transitory state - motion and change is its substance. In 1949, while working on "The Second Sex", De Beauvoir wrote "Disconnected from the childish past, the present seems to be just a transition period - it does not have a purpose worth pursuing - merely a series of distractions. Her youth is spent - more or less significantly - on waiting. Waiting for a Man." Does girlhood - 70 years later - still boils down to waiting for a guy to come along? What does it mean to be a girl in 2018?
MFF New Horizons is pleased to present Girlhood. This series includes movies for girls - made by girls. Movies about 'grrls', girly girls, and everything in between, as well as the different experiences of being a young woman. We'll be showing movies about becoming a woman, which is so much different from the process of boys becoming men. "Boys are more than eager to claim the glorious mantle of being a Man. - said de Beauvoir. However a girl, to become an adult, must fit within the requirements that constitute being a Woman." Let's forget for a moment the story of growing up presented by the likes of Werther, Tom Sawyer, Harry Potter or shown in The Graduate. We've had Boyhood - now it's time for Girlhood. It means youth from a girl's point of view - including girlish interests and girlish energy. This series is for girls that are about to become women and the 'girls on the inside' - which stay with us forever. And for boys, who want to understand girls a little better. Do bear in mind, though, that all these movies present guys as secondary characters. And under no circumstance a girl becomes a woman just by meeting Mr. RIGHT - who was the ultimate dream of 'proper young ladies' in past generations.
A true Girlhood waited many years to be discovered. Even in the course of feminist debates it was pushed to the side by more important, fundamental issues of women rights. For a couple of years now, 'girlhood studies' flourished in an effort to redefine girlhood - not as an 'idea of a woman' that needs to be redesigned, so that it reaches its 'proper form', but, due to its specific preferences and behavior, as an important social group of its own.
On the other hand, in modern visual culture girls' bodies are exploited and overused - in magazines, ads, and movies, where they are treated as sexual objects - nymphets and lolitas that are a backdrop for boyish emotions and eye-candy for men. That is why in the case of Girlhood we'll be focusing on movies created by women. We want to show girlhood not using a disrespectful 'guy's vision' - but the eyes of women, female movie directors. Girlhood is a girlish cinema. It is emotional and post-feminist. It shows the girls' adolescence and their experiments, fantasies, changes, and struggles. And all these things happen in parallel to becoming a woman - not as it's prelude.
Annika Berg, Josephine Decker, and Santiago Caicedo present stories full of themes and concepts being a part of girlish world - and which may be considered keys to the sensitivity of young women. Annika Berg's Team Hurricane, which received an award as the most innovative movie during the Critics Week movie festival in Venice, uses the aesthetics of Instagram filters and Tumbler themes to show a group of girlfriends in a small Danish town. Each heroine has her own style, every color is saturated to the max, and every scene resembles an amateur hip-hop music video. However, apart from the tone and girlish aesthetics of defiance, which large corporations are desperately trying to imitate, Team Hurricane has plenty of emotion. Being a girl is not just hanging out with your friends and partying. It's also the moments of weakness and crying in solitude. Virus Tropical - an animation by Santiago Caicedo, based on the comics made by a Columbian artist - pseudonym Power Paola - is an ironic diary about puberty. It's a teenager's manifesto, full of tragicomic drama of everyday life and the struggles of a large Latino family.
And then there's the latest film by Josephine Decker (Butter on Latch, New Horizons Cinema 2014), Madeline's Madeline, which has been described by Indiewire as "one of the boldest and most invigorating American films of the 21st century". The movie shows that the line between teenage rebellion and mental disorder can be very fine. In one second, the protagonist is being a cat, and a turtle in the next. Even when she is shown as Madeline, we are not sure, if it is her real self, or she just plays the part of Madeline for her audience - adults that try to fix and reshape her being.
While girlish experiences in the modern world are mainly digital, their political correctness and the very defiance against 'a man's world' is showcased by selfies and power over their own appearance, Irene's Lusztig's Yours In Sisterhood looks rather to the past era of printed word. Lusztig - a movie director and visual artist - investigates the archives of woman's creations and attempts an unusual experiment. She finds letters written by the readers of the Ms. magazine, which shaped two generations of American feminists. In her performance-type documentary, she shows that the problems of women in the 70's are still present in the era of #metoo. While it seems that during the past 30 years the world has changed beyond recognition, letters from 1973-80 sound surprisingly current.
"Third Eye" explores the contemporary - the trends and ideas that shape the world of today. It embraces current political and cultural contexts. Every year, it focuses around a different concept - from high culture to pop culture - showcased via different cinematic contexts. A year ago - as a part of the Good Girls Gone Bad theme - we've presented the cinema of revenge that walks the line of the genre. Girlhood involves slice of life movies, which showcase daily struggles and modern reality - being a girl in 21st century. There are no super heroines or the supernatural here. No magic nor dramatic transformations. And without the escapism - the movies are a lot more current and relevant.
Girlhood is the small cinema of minor events, uneasy friendships, and even harder puberty. It shows the world of toxic relationships, eating disorders, and bitchiness, as well as bestie friendships, cheerful carefreeness, the pleasure of wearing way too much makeup, obnoxious clothing, and chicks sticking together.
Ewa Szabłowska, curator