Marieme (Karidja Touré) is an African-French young girl living in an impoverished Paris suburb. With few academic prospects and a real struggle to progress in life due to her unfortunate circumstances, the sixteen-year-old has no choice but to pursue a vocational track. There she hopes to learn a useful trade and finally escape her unhealthy family dynamics. Her mother has a chock-full work schedule that often leads to neglect and chaos at home. Moreover, the family’s abusive brother is always calling the shots and tormenting Marieme when their parent is not there to witness. When the teenager gets out from school one day, she is approached by a gang that seems interested in recruiting her.
The group is girl-only, with a quirky and relentless leader named Lady (Assa Sylla). Her followers, Adiatou (Lindsay Kamaroh) and Fily (Mariétou Touré), have golden jewelry, leather jackets and a rebellious attitude that screams trouble. They ask Marieme to join them to the city center. The girl reluctantly agrees and soon learns that she is in over her head. The young girls steal, do drugs, get into legal issues and dangerous situations. They are unkind to those who are not part of the group, but very understanding and caring towards each other. Marieme soon becomes very fond of the gang and their endeavors, and feels like she is finally part of a family who understands her and has her back.
“Transformation is coming, although as with Sciamma’s previous films this is not a simple, one-way manoeuvre, completed in double-quick time.”
— Eye For Film
“This is no quietly incremental coming-of-age narrative, but a brash, at times distressing series of snapshots of the life of undereducated black working-class girls on the bottom rung of every social and economic ladder.”
— Sight & Sound
“While the movie has a lot to say about the general condition of being a girl, in the Paris banlieues and elsewhere, it never loses sight of the specific girl at its heart.”
— The New York Times
Did You Know?
The film was inspired by the aesthetics and adventures of a young group hanging out in the vicinity of Paris. Director Céline Sciamma first noticed the teenage girls having fun near train stations and in shopping centers. Impressed by their style and demeanor, she decided to relay a compelling story of their experience. Despite the media portraying Girlhood (Bande de filles) as a story about black femininity, Sciamma has stated that the motion picture is “not about what it’s like to be a black girl, it’s about what it’s like to be a girl”. Review our Gay Themed Films Here