By: Mia Vicino
Here are six films from around the world that accurately capture the universally wonderful, terrifying, frustrating journey of puberty -- all directed by women who have suffered through it.
1. The Fits (USA, 2015) - Anna Rose Holmer
When the older girls in her dance troupe start having violent seizure-like fits, a candid metaphor for puberty, 11-year-old Toni experiences confusion, fear and eventually jealousy. This diverse 77-minute-long film features a stellar all Black cast as well as a commentary on the lack of clean water in low-income neighborhoods. Available on Amazon Prime.
2. Girl Asleep (Australia, 2015) - Rosemary Myers
Greta is the shy new girl in school, so her parents decide to throw her a surprise 15th birthday party and invite everyone in her class -- her worst nightmare. As she’s hiding in her bedroom, a strange critter escapes from her childhood music box. Suddenly thrust into an absurd, surreal, Alice In Wonderland-like world, Greta must venture on a quest to nd the creature...and herself. Available on Netflix.
3. Breathe (France, 2014) - Mélanie Laurent
You may remember Mélanie Laurent from her role as the iconic Shoshanna in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Recently, she stepped behind the camera with her directorial debut about a pair of teen girls whose obsession with each other turns toxic. It’s probably called Breathe because you won’t be able to during the nerve-wracking last half hour. Available on Netflix.
4. Mustang (Turkey, 2015) - Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Mustang tells the story of ve Turkish sisters who feel suffocated by the patriarchal, conservative culture they’re forced to grow up in. When their grandmother decides to start marrying them off to suitors against their will, the girls stage a rebellion. Ergüven’s powerful ode to sisterhood won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes and four Cesar awards, even snagging an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. Available on Netflix.
5. Girlhood (France, 2014) - Céline Sciamma
After an all-girl gang asks her to join them, 16-year-old Marieme finds herself entranced with their strong bond -- a bond enforced through physically fighting other girl gangs. Director Céline Sciamma made this film because of the lack of black teen representation in French cinema: white boys have Linklater’s Boyhood, black girls have Sciamma’s Girlhood. Available on Netflix.
6. Pariah (USA, 2011) - Dee Rees
Alike, a Black teen poet living in Brooklyn, grapples with her lesbian identity; she wears baggy clothes to gay clubs with her friends, and then changes into a dress on the bus ride back home to her conservative mother. If you liked the purple-hued melancholy of Moonlight (2016), you’ll love Pariah. Available on Netflix.