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USA, 2002 (MIFF 2003, Documentaries)

Director: Liz Garbus

In 2002 Liz Garbus packed a cinematic whallop MIFF audiences won't soon forget with death-row documentary, The Execution of Wanda Jean. Girlhood focuses on the opposite, but no less lethal, end of the US correctional industry.

When Shanae was 10, she was gang raped by five boys. She coped with this by telling no one, living on the streets, drinking and taking drugs. By her twelfth birthday, she was in police custody after murdering a friend, aged 11. When she was eight, Megan's mother put her into foster care in order to support her heroin habit by turning tricks full time. After escaping from ten foster homes, Megan finally ended up in detention after attacking another child with a box-cutter

Girlhood, with emphasis on the 'hood', tells the story of Shanae, Megan and girls like them, and their dramatic journey through the juvenile justice system and back out on to the bleak streets of East Baltimore. With unprecedented access to the system and to the complex interior lives of the protagonists, the film provides a shocking insight into the world of young women at risk. A unique coming of age story about crime and consequences, and triumph in the face of hopelessness.

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