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girlhood
     

girlhood

Director: Liz Garbus

Cast: Liz Garbus

 
Shanae was arrested for murder at the age of 12, after stabbing a friend to death. Megan's mother was a drug-addled prostitute, and after being placed in, and escaping from, nearly a dozen foster homes, Megan committed a violent crime. These girls are the subjects of Liz Garbus' documentary, Girlhood. Garbus encountered the girls at the Waxter Juvenile Facility

Overview

Shanae was arrested for murder at the age of 12, after stabbing a friend to death. Megan's mother was a drug-addled prostitute, and after being placed in, and escaping from, nearly a dozen foster homes, Megan committed a violent crime. These girls are the subjects of Liz Garbus' documentary, Girlhood. Garbus encountered the girls at the Waxter Juvenile Facility in Baltimore while making a television documentary about the boys incarcerated there. Garbus, director of the acclaimed prison documentary, The Farm: Angola, USA, examines the disparate fates of these girls and their very different treatment at the hands of the juvenile justice system. While Shanae, the victim of a horrendous violent crime herself as a child, has difficulty coming to grips with the murder she's committed, she's clearly an intelligent, charismatic, and, most importantly, motivated girl. The juvenile justice system serves her well, because she's deeply involved in forging her own path. Megan, a pretty girl with a devilish gleam in her eye, tries to get by on charm, but she doesn't have Shanae's focus. Having been abandoned by her mother, with whom she has a very complicated relationship, Megan is desperate for attention and affection. While Shanae sublimates her anger and hurt and moves on with life, for Megan everything is right on the surface. The system essentially gives up on trying to control her and turns her loose to fend for herself. Girlhood was shown at the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival and at the South by Southwest Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
Liz Garbus, director of The Farm: Angola, USA and The Execution of Wanda Jean, returns with Girlhood, taking another compelling, insightful, and finally heartbreaking look at contemporary criminal justice. This time she focuses on two charismatic and articulate teenage girls, Shanae and Megan, as they journey through the Baltimore juvenile system. Garbus takes a clear-eyed view of these girls, the crimes they've committed, and their struggle to rise above their ugly childhoods and accept responsibility for their actions. The filmmaker doesn't sentimentalize or soft-pedal these girls' flaws, or the harshness of their circumstances, and this gives viewers a chance to get to know them and see their essential innocence. This is not to say that they are not both guilty of poor judgment and of criminal acts, but they are where they are because they couldn't cope with an extraordinarily difficult environment. There's something essentially ordinary about these girls, whatever their individual strengths and weaknesses. Garbus is obviously sympathetic to their plight, and recognizes the various factors that led them to their run-in with the law, but her film is fair about their share of responsibility for their situation. The juvenile system, meanwhile, works well for Shanae, whose calmness allows her to gain favor with her wardens and work the system. But the same system isn't equipped to deal with Megan's wildness, leaving her to fend for herself. Girlhood thoughtfully questions not just the system itself, but our unfair assumptions about the young people caught within it.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/18/2004
UPC:
0720917542621
Original Release:
2003
Rating:
NR
Source:
Fox Lorber
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Time:
1:22:00

Special Features

Commentary with Liz Garbus; 5.1 Dolby Digital audio; Director filmography; Theatrical trailer; Weblinks

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Baltimore [3:10]
2. Shanae's Story [4:42]
3. Structure [1:39]
4. Happy Birthday [3:08]
5. Shanae at Home [4:20]
6. Sick or Faking? [1:28]
7. Effective [3:27]
8. Progress Review [2:56]
9. Card From Mom [2:57]
10. Escape Attempt [3:01]
11. Interview [4:04]
12. Getting Out [3:02]
13. Foster Care [4:05]
14. Vernessa [3:32]
15. Jersey [1:50]
16. Crittenton [7:57]
17. All Good [2:28]
18. Vicious Cycle [3:40]
19. On the Streets [2:05]
20. Megan's Place [3:09]
21. Going Home [3:28]
22. Tragic Loss [1:51]
23. Tired of It [4:39]
24. Prom Night [5:11]

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