Teen Angst Shows at Sundance

'Pariah,' 'Little Birds,' 'Circumstance,' and the festival's emerging theme of teenage girls' struggle.

01.29.11 12:37 AM ET

If there’s one thing this year’s festival has seen lot of of, it’s teenage girls grappling with being teenage girls. There is Alike (Adepero Oduye), the coming-of-age lesbian in Dee Rees’ gritty, Bronx tale, Pariah. There is Iranian teen Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri), rebelling against her parents’ traditionalism and experimenting with her new-found sexuality in Maryam Keshavarz’s Circumstance. And in Circumstance, written and directed by first timer Elgin James, two 15-year-olds—played by Juno Temple and Kay Panabaker—set out for Los Angeles, where they get an early taste of life’s hard knocks.

What is it about the growing pains of young women, as opposed to young men, that’s attracting up-and-coming filmmakers?

In an interview at the Sundance Channel HQ, James said that Little Birds was inspired by his own story, but that he decided to focus the narrative on girls, because, “I didn’t think that, for one, 15-year-old boys would be very interesting, as much as 15 year-old girls, who are more complex.”

To read the rest of Nicole's post on Sundance Channel, click here