‘Little Girl’ (‘Petite fille’) Review

French filmmaker Sebastien Lifshitz has made three fiction films, Come Undone, Wild Side and Go south (along with current Bond girl Lea Seydoux). But much of his output is in the documentary genre, which often explores marginalized and uncanny experiences in France, although last year Teenager It’s welcome to broaden his horizons as it depicts the lives of two teenagers from France for several years (think of it as a work of non-fiction). Childhood With the girls).

As Lifshitz honed his non-fiction skills in word features Overcome (2001) to The Invisibles (2012) and now the title Panorama of Berlinale Kid, little girl, it is remarkable that he has become such a skilled and confident documentarian that his films feel more and more light-hearted while simultaneously achieving depth and emotional resonance. touch. As in the work of all master documentary filmmakers, the technique of filmmaking seems to have vanished leaving only the main characters and their stories. In Bambi Since 2013, Lifshitz plays former Parisian dancer and nightlife icon Marie-Pierre Pruvot, who was assigned a male gender at birth, as she looks back on her life. In his latest movie, he goes back to the issues of transgender and gender dysphoria but instead of someone looking back, the main character mentioned is Sasha, a young girl from the countryside. village in the northeastern part of France with a lifetime ahead.

Key point

Little girls, big documentaries.

After debuting in Berlin, Kid, little girl should appeal to broadcasters looking for an accessible, engaging but heartbreaking work on an issue still misunderstood by many members of the public. It will bring fewer surprises for LGBTQ and enlighten – try really hard to avoid the dreaded “w” here – millennial audiences, though their hearts will also be warmed by Sasha’s story.

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“When you grow up, you’ll be a girl,” Sasha began telling her working-class parents when she was 3 years old. When she turned 4 years old, her mother Karine told her that dream was not within reach and Sasha’s ideas about her future were completely destroyed. She was so distressed that her mother had a hard time comforting her. Karine tells the story in an early interview segment, at her own kitchen table, and she is still clearly heartbroken for hurting her child so badly, even if it was mostly accidental.

Sasha is now 7 years old, and her mother and father are open to a very complicated situation, very exemplary and inspiring. Dad, who is less talkative and not at all present in the film, simply said: “It’s not a matter of ‘tolerance’, it’s Sasha and that’s it.” Mom is also clearly supportive of Sasha’s right to sex and her journey is shown in more detail, even if the timeline is precise, between moments of observation and interview footage, at times. somewhat ambiguous. In a touching detail from the start, Karine says: “Sasha feels like, no, To be a girl,” corrects herself in the middle of a sentence. This is followed by a visit from Karine to her local doctor, who knows nothing about gender dysphoria but is smart enough to know that there are specialists who can help the family work things out.

The experts in Paris were really of great help, as they were able to answer both Karine and Sasha’s pressing questions, like how Karine wanted a daughter while she was pregnant but didn’t matter. to Sasha’s situation and thus she was able to let go of her consciousness. of guilt. The family was also provided with an official medical letter to Sasha’s school, where it was difficult for the principal and others to accept her as a girl, something that was also happening in her ballet class.

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Lifshitz never demonizes people who don’t understand or oppose Sasha’s desire to be who she really is, and they’re almost entirely off-screen. Instead, the director chronicles, with immense warmth and generosity, this external outcry caused Sasha and her loved ones and how much love, care, and care they need. care to make up for the fact that she is not simply as accepted as all of her peers. In one particularly moving scene, Karine quietly sobs over the list of normal childhood things that Sasha can’t really have because the people around her won’t accept her as a girl, from the box. her dream school pencil and backpack to the outfit she loves to wear on the first day of the new school year. It is revealed that she has never invited anyone from school into her bedroom, as she fears it might reveal too much about her true self; Since the film’s opening, Lifshitz has clearly won the little girl’s trust early on.

After a while – again, it’s not clear exactly how much time – Sasha managed to make friends at her provincial elementary school, and it turned out they had no problem accepting her for who she was. that. The very wise and practical Karine asks if it is too much to ask adults to do the same?

Lifshitz’s cinematographer, Paul Guilhaume, who also shot Teenager and his 2016 documentary Therese’s Life, opted for a stunning widescreen ratio, allowing Sasha to be the cinematic hero of her own story. Almost all of the observational footage, if not directly from Sasha’s point of view, at least from her point of view, brings the audience very close to her and her way of seeing the world. (Some of the material was shot by the great Celine Bozon.) Pauline Gaillard’s editing is almost invisible, wonderfully building a family’s thorny journey to a better future (siblings and sisters). Sasha’s is a co-star, and they also suggest that the kids bother with something that some adults find too confusing).

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For children, external telltale signs can be very important, and there’s something appealing about Sasha’s wardrobe. In the protective cocoon of her own home, Sasha initially wears dresses and colors like pink and yellow to assert her identity as a girl. There’s a remarkable moment when mother and daughter go through Sasha’s wardrobe and the latter practically discard anything that’s not just for boys but can be identified as gender-neutral. “Girls can wear blue too, you know!” says her mother (in fact, that’s the color we usually see Karine in). But as Sasha merges with her identity and is accepted by those around her, all that rosy and frills become less important. At the end of this touching documentary, she may be lying on her pink bed, but she ends up wearing all blue.

Production company: Agat & Cie Films, Arte France, Final Cut for Real
Directed by: Sebastien Lifshitz
Producer: Muriel Meynard
Cinematography: Paul Guilhaume
Editor: Pauline Gaillard
Venue: Berlin International Film Festival (Panorama Dokumente)

Sales: MK2 Films

At France
85 minutes

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