No Cinderella Story: Stories of Sex, Relationships, and Self Image

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John C. Williams, Stephanie Walter Williams
Reel Works Teen Filmmaking
61 minutes. DVD $75.

In mini-documentaries shorter than 10 minutes each, eight teen filmmakers explore permutations of sex and love in this collection from the “By Teens for Teens” series, produced in after-school workshops in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In the title film, “No Cinderella Story,” a teenage girl responds to filmmaker Michael Keenan’s question about how she imagined romance when she was younger: “A prince rescues me.” But “Cinderella’s long gone now.”

Most of her fellow Staten Island students, ages 15 to 18, agree. “Our whole generation is getting corrupted by sex,” says one girl. Discussing “friends with benefits” and “hooking up,” high school girls and boys say “there’s nothing else to do” but go to parties, get drunk and have sex. “Parents don’t even care,” asserts a girl in a tank top bearing the message, “Sex Instructor.” Some are more cautious, like the girl who says, “When I have sex, I want to have meaning behind it.”

In her film, “What You Lose,” Patricia Henry, 17, swims against the tide. Sex was “something I didn’t do,” she says, facing the issue in her first serious relationship. Looking for friends who hadn’t had sex, she “had trouble finding people to interview.”

She did find some. One girl “was raised that way.” Another is waiting because “sex is giving your entire self to someone.” Even two boys say no. Several are sorry they didn’t wait. Finally, Patricia answers her own question: “What do you lose when you lose your virginity?”

Three films celebrate love, including Riaebia Robinson’s “If U Want to Get Technical,” introducing Riaebia’s older sister and her partner, a gay couple in charge of the family. Lizbeth Mejia’s “Journey to the Unknown” examines teen parenthood. Framed by her Quinceanera coming-of-age celebration, Mejia interviews her own unmarried mother and contemporary teen mothers. She concludes: “That’s a mistake I will never make.”

Two well-constructed, disturbing films are made by young women suffering from eating disorders. In one, “Skin and Bone,” Bronwyn Holmes films herself vomiting. Her camera pans endless grocery shelves of temptation: “It’s like going into a pharmacy, for a drug addict.” Unable to affect Bronwyn’s behavior, her mother says, “You just sit by and watch as your child self-destructs.” Attributing her condition to the trauma of childhood abuse by her father, Bronwyn closes with a night shot of the road outside her house. It’s impossible to see where it’s heading. (212) 279-0708, ext. 115; http://www.youthcomm.org/miva/merchant.mvc (orders); preview two films at http://www.reelworks.org.