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17 filles | Delphine Coulin, Muriel Coulin, 2011
France | Format: HDCAM | 90 minutes
Director Muriel Coulin in person for both screenings!
Premiered at last year’s Critics’ Week in Cannes, 17 Girls takes its inspiration from a real, headline-grabbing incident in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where a group of teenage girls all decided to become pregnant at the same time, much to the consternation of their families and teachers. First-time feature directors Delphine and Muriel Coulin shift the action to a sleepy seaside town in northern France, where the rocky cliffs and unwelcoming sea create a sense that all of the characters are in some way trapped. When the brash Camille (Louise Grinberg, discovered in Laurent Cantet’s The Class) announces she’s pregnant, soon her friends and classmates decide to follow suit. Like Gus Van Sant’s Elephant—often cited as one of the film’s inspirations—17 Girls is less interested in the psychological or social background of its young subjects than it is in the reactions they provoke in the adults around them. Greatly aided by an ensemble cast of both professionals and non-professionals, the Coulins have made a challenging work that confounds easy definitions of choice and responsibility.