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Seen & Heard - Girlhood Studies

Claire Marie Healy, creator of Girlhood Studies on AnOther Magazine, selects six films inspired by the Seen & Heard season.

"These films are all about girls who create their own worlds against the odds, as conjured by women directors who actually spend time with them there. Teen girl protagonists like these are the inspiration for my studies of girlhood – how it has been depicted, and how it feels."

Claire Marie Healy

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SouadSouad

Drama2021102 minsDirector: Ayten Amin

Double lives and double standards in Egypt, as a teenage girl contends with religion and social media to define herself.

“Actually a tale of two sisters at different stages of their girlhood – a matter as much of exposure, as their age – the narrative of this Egyptian drama unfolds in the light of phone screens. Its strength lies in how Amin understands social media as a claustrophobic space for girls coming-of-age, as much as an expansive one.”

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VagabondVagabond

Drama1985101 minsDirector: Agnès Varda

The story of Mona, a young hitchhiker who cannot communicate with the world, is told in flashback by people who came into contact with her.

“Agnès Varda’s tale of a girl seeking her freedom and agency in the most extreme of ways — by going off grid altogether. It’s a story as much about adults’ idealisation of youth and beauty in girls, as how they try and contain it. Sandrine Bonnaire is incredible as the teen drifter wandering through agricultural France.”

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A Bagful of FleasA Bagful of Fleas

Documentary196243 minsDirector: Věra Chytilová

Věra Chytilová's 'fictionalised documentary' uses non-actors to portray girls' lives in the cotton mills of Náchod.

“Set in the women’s boarding house of a Czech textile factory, and narrated by a wry newcomer to the group, the wild girls of Věra Chytilová’s fictional documentary pre-date her Daisies duo by some years. But the moments of quiet among grassy fields are more like images from a tumblr page, or a Sofia Coppola film.”

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Girls LostGirls Lost

Fantasy2015106 minsDirector: Alexandra-Therese Keining

Teenage friends get the chance to be boys for a while in this supernatural, gender fluid fantasy from the director of Kiss Me.

“A classic trope of films aimed at girls is the magical 'body-swap' drama, and I’m always interested in work that experiments with what is mainstream in this way. Alexandra-Therese Keining uses the trope in this Swedish drama to explore gender identity and sexuality among a trio of friends – without revealing more, it’s dark, unexpected, and ultimately, worth a watch.”

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I'm British But...I'm British But...

Documentary198929 minsDirector: Gurinder Chadha

Britain beats to the sound of Bhangra and Bangla in Gurinder Chadha's debut film.

“The cool girls (with great clothes) who appear in Gurinder Chadha’s short doc articulate ideas of second-generation immigrant identity with matter-of-fact insight. But I also love its window onto the Bhangra ‘daytimer’ culture which many young British Asians used to express themselves in Thatcher’s Britain.”

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GirlhoodGirlhood

Drama2014113 minsDirector: Céline Sciamma

In the tough suburbs of Paris, sixteen-year-old Marieme decides to reinvent herself when she joins a girl gang.

“Céline Sciamma’s depiction of girls living in the Paris banlieues was hugely influential in how it spends time with the girls, and engages with their gaze; but I include it, more than anything, for the way that Sciamma has engaged with the ongoing conversation since its release about the stereotypes it might also fall into. When thinking about articulating a girl’s gaze in cinema, it’s vital to keep asking these questions.”

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