Academy AwardŽ nominated director Liz Garbus follows Shanae and Megan for the next three years, as they try to make a life for themselves both inside and outside of Baltimore?s juvenile justice system. A story of mothers a... more »nd daughters, crimes and consequences, and strength in the face of unimaginable adversity, girlhood is a testament to the faith and struggles of two girls just trying to grow up.« less
"The title of Liz Garbus's brilliant film contains an irony. "Girlhood" conveys images of fluffy dresses, teddybears, and innocent first dates. But Girlhood's two protagonists, Shanae and Megan, lose their girlhood, spending teen years locked up or (in Megan's case) in foster homes. Their "girlhood" is about drug-addiction, crimes, getting locked up and trying to get out. They speak about degrees of assault as calmly as their suburban contemporaries might speak of varsity and junior varsity cheering squads.The success of Girlhood comes from Garbus's ability to transform our image of these girls from "juvenile delinquents' to complex young women, products of their environment as well as their own choices. We see how the system fails these young women, but to her credit, Garbus does not dwell on larger "society" topics. Instead, she focuses on the individuals and the impact of institutions comes through loud and clear. Shanae's family was smart and supportive, although her mother had to work long hours to support the family. Inevitably Shanae got into trouble on the streets. I'm reminded of a segment in Bowling for Columbine: The mother of a child who brought a gun to school, killing a young girl, worked seventy hours a week and still couldn't make ends meet. Shanae is easier to like, with a natural charisma. She's articulate and poised. You can feel her strength as she sits silently during "meetings," patiently listening while she's discussed in the third person. The scene of Shanae getting ready for a prom is triumphant and also moving, as we realize what it cost her to achieve her goal. She graduated fourth in her high school class, in a year that saw her released from juvenile hall and losing a mother to heart disease -- a failure of our health care system. I hope she achieves her dream of law school. Megan, as smart as Shanae, continues to be haunted by the heritage of a mother who keeps returning to prison for drug-related crimes. She's almost a stereotype: raised in foster homes, bipolar, lacking role models outside the juvenile home. Yet as the film shows, she's also a unique individual who's surviving and staying out of jail. In a way, these girls were lucky. Their juvenile home must be a model of its kind. Staff were tough but concerned and the girls had teddy bears. Shanae had room to grow and Megan ... well, Megan could go her own way.After reading the dust jacket of this video, I was afraid the film, especially the ending, would be depressing. It wasn't. If anything, Girlhood shows how Megan and Shanae transcend their environments. And an investment in humane institutions can pay huge dividends. Not quite uplifting but definitely hopeful."
GIRLS MADE OF MORE THAN SUGAR AND SPICE
Shanea | VA Baby! | 05/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Documentaries are truly becoming the most captivating cinematic spectacles. From Hoop Dreams to Bowling for Columbine and now Girlhood, documentaries are capturing the brutal honesty of our modern culture. Girlhood is a emotionally devestating look into the lives of two young girls Shanae and Meghan who journey through the juvenile detention center in Baltimore and their outside struggles at home. It is a story of lost innocence, deferred dreams, anguish, and torment, family disconnection and instability but in fragmented moments there are also elements of hope. We truly grow to feel for these girls and take a glance into their turbulent, ever changing lives. Shanae is quiet spirited and articulate and is serving time for stabbing a girl to death. Meghan is an outspoken live-wire but just as intelligent, talented, and articulate, is serving time for assault. Through the separate journeys of these young women we see the harsh realities of inner city life and how it attempts to breaks the spirits of its daughters.You will remember these girls long after the credits have rolled. You will be captivated by their story, their struggles, their strength, and their constant ability to continue to endure. Its saddening to know that so many of our young girls face such profound sufferance but its amazing to also witness how strong they remain and how determined they are to survive to tell their stories--by any means necessary."
Rishel Gordham | Olympia, Washington | 12/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I thought this documentary film was very intense and provided me with an entirely different outlook on the events troubled youth must overcome to survive. This film was an eye-opener and carried much shock value. I think that this film would be an excellent film to show to high school aged individuals who might be struggling through difficult times, or be temped by drugs or running away. This film captured what it is difficult to grasp while reading a book and that is the fact that each girl had a face to her troubles. The fact that I was able to see the look on these young girls' faces, to see the hurt, and the pain life had caused them was defiantly a reality shock for me."
Fine documentary that asks if a rose can rise up from the co
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 09/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Girlhood tells the story of two young girls locked up in The Waxter Juvenile Facility in Baltimore because they committed violent crimes. The film is intense and very blunt but it also does a great job of showing the human side of these two young people over a three year span of time. The teenagers are remarkably frank and candid about their experiences both good and bad with family members, friends and more; and they don't outwardly feel ashamed to talk openly about the crimes they committed even though a lot of us would not be comfortable with what they did, let alone discussing it all in a documentary film. The cinematography is excellent and the director made sure we really got excellent insight into what made these two girls "tick" and that's impressive.
When the film starts we meet two young girl named Shanae and Megan; and they both have stories that are interesting although they're not exactly happy stories. Shanae is serving time for stabbing a friend three times during a fight; the other girl died and Shanae simply tells us that she "blanked out" during the fight. Megan is in the same detention center for cutting up a girl (who apparently survived) with a box cutter during a fight; by the time we meet Megan she has already run away from close to eleven foster homes.
The film tells us about the struggle each girl must face to regain a life with at least a semblance of normalcy. It isn't easy. Shanae finally comes to the point where she is mature enough to understand what she has done and she begins to realize that she has to serve some time as a consequence for what she did, even if she never acts particularly remorseful. Megan, on the other hand, is much more feisty and difficult for the staff to control; she tries to run away from Waxter on one occasion and her relationship with her drug-addicted mother is far from smooth.
Of course, I can't spoil it for you so I won't go into too much detail here. Suffice it to say that both girls grow during the three years spanned in this documentary; and the filmmakers even added a bit of extra footage to show what Shanae was able to do in the fourth year after we first meet her despite the adversities she had to face.
The DVD comes with a few extras but definitely the one you want is the running commentary with director Liz Garbus. It's very informative.
Girlhood is a fine DVD that shows how even some of the toughest young people can improve themselves with time. The staff in the juvenile detention center was concerned and caring despite being rather tough and rigid on the surface; and this helped Shanae and Megan considerably. I highly recommend this film for anyone interested in the issues explored in this documentary."
Veiwed with class
bella43 | ny | 06/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I showed this documentary to my high school class the students responded well we had a classroom discussion in response."