Recalling the work of Portuguese master Pedro Costa, in particular his Fontainhas trio (Ossos, In Vanda’s Room, and Colossal Youth) Little Go Girls has the same almost magisterial quality of image. The women and girls who ply their trade initially regard de Latour’s camera with benign indifference. But the relationship between the women and the filmmaker gradually grows more trusting.
Along the sidewalks and cafés of Seine-Saint- Denis, groups of young men, dressed in hoodies and streetwear, talk with remarkable bluntness and honesty about love, desire, sex, and race. As one man says “White people experience love They were taught how.” Made with a shattering level of intimacy, Alice Diop’s film is both a cinepoem and a piercing statement on the nature of disenfranchisement.
The title, translated as “the entrance exam,” is an in-depth and intimate look at the students looking to gain a place in La Fémis, one of the most famous and prestigious film schools in the world (Simon herself was the Head of Directing Studies). As the budding cinéastes struggle to find a place, the narrative spends a good deal of time with their interlocutors, pulling back the curtain to reveal the depth of seriousness and care that is extended to the students.
The opening shot in Brûle la mer of roiling storm-tossed seas moving in perpetual motion sets the tone for the cinepoem to come. Elegantly constructed, the film employs the age-old device of someone telling you a story. In this case, the narrative is that of young Tunisian refugees (some 25,000) including Maki and his two brothers, who fled their country after the 2011 Jasmine Revolution.
When a transgender ex-schoolteacher named Karen travels to the US to work with an old cowboy in an extended series of "Pony Play" sessions, the rituals of domination and submission between trainer and trainee must be strictly observed. In the arena where they work, Karen is taught the rigors of donning a bit and bridle, how to walk in ornate leather hooves, and how to pull a cart.