What does it mean to come of age as a woman in the 21st Century?
In the powerful, poignant documentary, I Am A Girl, it is dangerous and heartbreaking, tragic and frightening… but also inspirational and uplifting.
Capturing a snapshot of six very different girls on the brink of womanhood, I Am A Girl travels through Cameroon, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Australia, the USA and Papua New Guinea.
In each destination we meet a young woman dealing with the particular challenges of her culture and environment. They talk candidly – intimately – to camera about their issues of the moment: getting married, having a baby, graduating from school, being forced into prostitution, living with violent oppression.
For the filmmakers, led by writer/director Rebecca Barry, the inspiration for the film was basic: “There is a group of people in the world today who are more persecuted than anyone else, but they are not political or religious activists. They are girls.
“Being born a girl means you are more likely to be subjected to violence, disease, poverty and disadvantage than any other group on the planet.”
In Afghanistan, through the eyes of Aziza, we see that being born a girl means that the Taliban wants to stone you or hang you for going to school. In Cameroon, through the eyes of Habiba, we see that being born a girl means you cease your education and “wholly submit” to your husband, twice your age. In PNG, through the eyes of Manu, we see the perils of having a baby at 17 and living in poverty. In Cambodia, child prostitution, in the projects of New York, drugs and gang violence, in Sydney, the lure of suicide.
Through the selection of these varied girls of the world, we see that coming of age in Cameroon is starkly different to coming of age in Sydney, is different to coming of age in PNG, and so on.
Likewise the experience of teen suffering is on a vast continuum: in Cambodia it’s about having your virginity sold to the highest bidder at the age of 12 to put food on the table, in Afghanistan it’s about the Taliban killing your father and seeking to shut down your future, in Sydney it’s about anxiety and depression and implacable existential angst, the western middle class luxury of wondering who you are.
This juxtaposition is fascinating and not a little confronting, and showcases the extraordinary breadth of feminine experience with intriguing perspective. It should be mandatory viewing for teenagers everywhere.
Ultimately, I Am A Girl strikes a note of hope – here is strength, here is courage, here is determination, and they are stronger than the forces that say being a girl is second best.
It is also a call to arms that says: we still have far to go.
I Am A Girl opens nationally today. Watch the trailer:
Winners will each win 2 x tickets to below performance:
SYDNEY | Chauvel Cinema, cnr Oatley Road and Oxford Streets, Paddington
Sunday 1st Sept, 3:30pm
To be in the running, simply fill out the form below and tell us in 25 words or less why you would like to see the film.
**PLEASE NOTE THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED**