Chances are, if you know a lot of children, you probably know a young child who already strays from the “norm”. With that kid, It’s pretty hard not to root for their acceptance, or their ability to go about life just as they are, yes? Now imagine the cutest, sweetest, most genuine, openhearted child you can think of, struggling because they don’t fit into one of society’s little boxes. That’s Sasha, the subject of the film Little Girl.
The latest from Queer Palm and César winning filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz, the film is a moving observational documentary that centers on 7 year old Sasha, whose gender identity differs from the gender assigned her at birth. It also shows the family that not only loves her for exactly who she is, but will fight for Sasha’s right to express her identity in all parts of her life. That includes at the school she attends in rural Northeastern France. It is a film in which the director disappears into the task of showing Sasha’s story and her day to day experience, so the viewer feels utterly connected with her and to her struggle and yearning for acceptance.
It was only after Sasha’s mother Karine had done research on gender identity and Sasha, who had consistently knew she was a girl from the time she could speak, continued the feel that way and outside forces refused to let her wear girl’s clothing, that Karine started advocating for her daughter. Once committed, though, she was a lioness. How could she not be? Watching one scene with Sasha trying to hold back tears about being forced to dress as a boy, or wear the only boy’s costume at dance class, or seeing her joy over trying on a girl’s bathing suit or have a girl over to play Barbies is enough for anyone to take up arms for the kid.
If it’s on film, it means there had to be a camera nearby, but somehow Sasha never mugs or plays to it. That’s to Lifshitz’s credit, but also speaks to Sasha’s unique personality. She’s a sweet, thoughtful little girl who happens to have been born into the wrong body. One gets the sense that she’s too exhausted just trying to both hide and be true to herself at the same time. There’s a beautifully lit scene outside between mother and daughter. Sasha starts crying when thinking about having to leave the few friends who accept her and use the proper pronouns. Karine leans down to console her, looks into Sasha’s eyes, and repeats over and over “I’ll do everything I can. I’ll do everything I can.” It’s clear that if there’s a way, Karine will find it.
To read the Little Girl review in its entirety, go to AWFJ.org HERE.