Girlhood (film)

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Girlhood poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byCéline Sciamma
Produced by
Written byCéline Sciamma
Music byJean-Baptiste de Laubier
CinematographyCrystel Fournier
Edited byJulien Lacheray
Distributed byPyramide Distribution
Release date
  • 15 May 2014 (2014-05-15) (Cannes)
  • 22 October 2014 (2014-10-22) (France)
Running time
113 minutes[1]
Box office$1.7 million[2]

Girlhood (French: Bande de filles, Gang of Girls) is a 2014 French drama film directed by Céline Sciamma, starring Karidja Touré. It is a coming of age film that focuses on the life of Marieme (Karidja Touré), a girl who lives in a rough neighborhood right outside of Paris[3] The film discusses and challenges conceptions of race, gender and class; Sciamma's goal was to capture the stories of black teenagers, characters she claims are generally underdeveloped in French films.[4] It was screened as part of the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[5] It was also screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.[6] It received four nominations at the 40th César Awards, including Best Director for Céline Sciamma and Most Promising Actress for Karidja Touré.


Marieme (Karidja Touré) is a 16-year-old African-French teenager living in a poor Paris suburb. Academically Marieme struggles, which forces her into a vocational track where she will learn a certain trade. Due to her mother's demanding work schedule, Marieme's abusive brother is in charge.[7] On her way out of school, the day she found out about vocational school, she is approached by a gang of girls, Lady (Assa Sylla) who is the leader of the group, and her followers, Fily (Marietou Toure), and Adiatou (Lindsay Karamoh), who ask Marieme if she wants to join them for a day trip to the city centre. They wear leather jackets, gold jewelry, and have pin straight hair. Marieme initially declines but after seeing the girls approached by a group of boys, including her brother's friend, Ismael (Idrissa Diabate) whom she has a crush on, Marieme joins them.[8]

The girls fight, steal, intimidate others but love and support each other. Marieme and the girls grow close and she eventually begins to act and dress just like Lady, Adiatou and Fily. Because of their act of stealing, the entire group of girls pay for a hotel room, steal dresses, drink alcohol, do drugs, dance and lip sync to "Diamonds", by Rihanna, and dance all night long. At the hotel Lady encourages Marieme to ignore her abusive older brother's phone calls and gives her a gold necklace with the name Vic for Victory.[8]

Fighting assists in showing dominance over other groups.[7] Lady sets up a fight with a girl who is a member of their rival group. Unfortunately, Lady is beaten by this girl, and has her shirt torn off which is viewed as a disgrace. Due to her loss, her father cuts all of her hair off and makes her keep her distance from the group. Vic/Marieme, wants to prove to herself, as well as Lady, that she has the power and strength to fight, and win, the battle against their rival. Vic miraculously wins the battle by ripping the girls shirt off, as well as cutting her bra leaving her topless. Both Lady and Vic's brother are incredibly proud of her and approving of her feat.

After Vic is physically assaulted by her brother when he finds out she slept with Ismael, she leaves home and starts to work for Abou, a local drug dealer.[9] While working for Abou, Vic lives in an apartment with two male roommates. In order not to be sexualized she binds her breasts and wears loose baggy clothing. When her boyfriend discovers she has been binding her breasts they fight. Afterwards she goes to a party at Abou's place where, despite her dressed down look Abou approaches and tries to kiss her. She tells him no and pushes him away. Vic goes to her boyfriend's place to tell him she's done with Abou and he offers to let her stay at his place and marry her. Vic refuses telling him she doesn't want that kind of life. She attempts to go back home, but despite being buzzed into her building she finds herself unable to go in.


  • Karidja Touré as Marieme / Vic
  • Assa Sylla as Lady
  • Lindsay Karamoh as Adiatou
  • Mariétou Touré as Fily
  • Idrissa Diabaté as Ismaël
  • Simina Soumare as Bébé
  • Cyril Mendy as Djibril
  • Djibril Gueye as Abou
  • Binta Diop as Asma
  • Chance N'Guessan as Mini
  • Rabah Nait Oufella as Kader
  • Damien Chapelle as Cédric
  • Nina Melo as Caidy
  • Elyes Sabyani as Abdel
  • Halem El Sabagh as Farida


Sciamma's inspiration for the film came from the different gangs of girls she saw around Paris, especially around the Les Halles shopping center and the Metro.[10] Girlhood is her last coming of age film and her goal was to focus on friendship, sorority, and the special bond that is formed between girls.[11][12] Sciamma is frequently asked why she wrote and directed a film about a gang of young French black girls, seeing that she is white. Celine stated, "I had a strong sense of having lived on the outskirts-even if I am middle-class white girl. I didn't feel I was making the film about black women but with black women-it's not the same. I'm not saying, 'I'm going to tell you what it's like being black in France today'; I just want to give a face to the French youth I'm looking at".[11]

The film's casting process took four months to complete where actresses were scouted from the streets of Paris.[13][14]

Sciamma intentionally cast black actresses because of her concern over the lack of opportunities for black women in France, saying that she "was shocked by how black people were never on screen [in France]. Very, very few – even in TV. Particularly that age group and women. There are no black actresses famous in France."[15]

The film also made prominent use of the song "Diamonds" by Rihanna. Sciamma shot the scene before securing the rights to the song and had to appeal to Rihanna's management in post-production. After seeing the scene, they agreed to grant her the rights to the usage of the song for a minimal fee.[16]


The film received highly positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 96% approval rating and an average rating of 8.1/10 based on 72 reviews.[17] Metacritic reports an 85/100 rating based on 20 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[18]

The Guardian described the film as "a work of cinematic art."[19] In his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle wrote, "Girlhood is about as grim as movies get, but it's showing something real, and Sciamma has a feel for this period of life, the camaraderie, the jokes, the kinds of conflicts, the panic and the hope. Each time Sciamma makes a movie, it’s as if she’s saying, not stridently, but plainly, 'Here’s something real people are going through that you’ve never thought about.' That’s a moral use of film, all the more effective in that Sciamma makes Girlhood entertaining."[20]

Sciamma received both criticism and praise for her decision to use an all black cast of girls.[21]

The New York Times appraises Girlhood in A. O. Scott's review by maintaining the movie's focus on a young woman in an absent society where she is fierce, independent, gentle and intelligent in order to survive what comes ahead.[22] A. O. Scott focuses on the conflict between the conscious Marieme developing towards the fearless Vic and how she combats the stereotypes of what a young woman in her situation is expected to become by transforming her experiences into a future she now controls.[22]


Award / Film Festival Category Recipients and nominees Result
British Independent Film Award Best Foreign Independent Film Girlhood Nominated
César Awards Best Director Céline Sciamma Nominated
Most Promising Actress Karidja Touré Nominated
Best Sound Pierre André and Daniel Sobrino Nominated
Best Music Written for a Film Jean-Baptiste de Laubier Nominated
European Parliament Lux Prize[23][24] Girlhood Nominated
Lumières Awards Best Film Girlhood Nominated
Best Director Céline Sciamma Nominated
Most Promising Actress Karidja Touré Nominated
Special Jury Prize Girlhood Won
Philadelphia Film Festival[25] Special Jury Prize Girlhood Won
San Sebastián International Film Festival[26] TVE Another Look Award Girlhood Won
Stockholm International Film Festival[27] Bronze Horse for Best Film Girlhood Won
Best Cinematography Crystel Fournier Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Girlhood (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 13 February 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  2. ^ "Girlhood (2015) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  3. ^ Bramowitz, Julie. "Céline Sciamma's Newest Film, Girlhood, Changes the Face of the Coming-of-Age Story". Vogue. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  4. ^ Debruge, Peter. "Cannes Film Review: 'Girlhood'". Variety. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Cannes Directors' Fortnight 2014 lineup unveiled". Screendaily. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  6. ^ "TIFF Adds 'Clouds of Sils Maria' and 'Two Days, One Night,' Reveals 5 More Lineups". Indiewire. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  7. ^ a b O'Malley, Sheila. "Girlhood". Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  8. ^ a b Scott, A.O. "Exploring the Limits in a Man's World In 'Girlhood,' a French Adolescent Comes Out of Her Shell". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  9. ^ Abraham, Amelia. "'Girlhood' Gives Young Black Girls Some Much-Needed Screen Time". Vice. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  10. ^ Screen International. "Girlhood". Media Business Insight. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  11. ^ a b Romney, Jonathan. "The stars of Girlhood: 'Our poster is all over Paris, with four black faces on it…'". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  12. ^ Blay, Zeba. "Interview: 'Girlhood' Director Celine Sciamma on Race, Gender & the Universality of the Story". IndieWire. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  13. ^ Chang, Dustin. "Shine Like A Diamond: GIRLHOOD Director Céline Sciamma Interview". twitchfilm. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  14. ^ Nastasi, Alison. "'Girlhood' Director Céline Sciamma on Reclaiming Childhood, Casting Her Girl Gang, and How Her Film Mirrors 'Boyhood'". Flavorwire. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  15. ^ MOTTRAM, JAMES. "Céline Sciamma interview: step aside 'Boyhood', it's 'Girlhood' time". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  16. ^ Theodore-Vachon, Rebecca. "How Rihanna Brought Black Girl Magic To "Girlhood"". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  17. ^ "Girlhood". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  18. ^ "Girlhood". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  19. ^ "Girlhood review: an exhilarating, thought-provoking look at life inside a girl gang". Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  20. ^ LaSalle, Mick (2 April 2015). "Growing up on the wrong side of Paris in 'Girlhood'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  21. ^ Blay, Zeba. "Interview: 'Girlhood' Director Celine Sciamma on Race, Gender & the Universality of the Story". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  22. ^ a b Scott, A. O. (29 January 2015). "In 'Girlhood,' a French Adolescent Comes Out of Her Shell". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  23. ^ "Giornate degli Autori - Venice Days". Giornate degli Autori. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  24. ^ "Three films to compete for the LUX Prize 2014". LUX film prize. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  25. ^ "Philadelphia Film Festival Announces Prize Winners Including 'Duke of Burgundy' & 'The Overnighters'". Way Too Indie. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  26. ^ "62 San Sebastian Festival awards list". San Sebastián. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  27. ^ "Stockholm Festival: 'Girlhood' Takes Top Prize". Variety. Retrieved 15 November 2014.

External links[edit]