On Girls is a film about the other side of sex.
It’s about women’s solitary struggles with their own bodies, identities, self-worth and with each other.
I remember being a child sitting in the backseat of the car in a conversation with my mother learning that, in society, males are considered superior. Men are thought to be smarter and stronger, boys are preferred. It was a shock. I thought boys and girls were different but equal.
Understanding how biology impacts and complicates the state of being female comes later, in the teen years. As an adult, I am fascinated and troubled by how images of womanhood are reflected back at us. My goal with ON GIRLS is to make a film about unplanned pregnancy in which the audience is with a young woman struggling alone in the aftermath.
The inspiration for this story came to me when I was sitting in the hallway of a maternity ward in Vancouver, flipping through a fashion magazine, after having my second child, my first daughter. I overheard an interaction in a room across the hall between a moaning woman and a nurse who was quite cold and frustrated by her. The woman was clearly not in labour and seemed to be in postpartum pain and was asking for relief. The nurse seemed to be tidying up around the room. I couldn’t hear a baby and there was no mention of one. I didn’t know what had happened or why the nurse was treating her that way. Was she a drug addict, a prostitute? Where was the hostility coming from? I felt sorry for this woman who seemed to be struggling emotionally and physically, checked into a maternity ward, but utterly alone.
I named my story ON GIRLS years ago, for the girl inside every woman, who deserves the same kindness and understanding that is sometimes only extended to children, and for little girls sitting in the backseats of their family car who already know more than "society".
The film is meant explore complexities of character and structure: highlighting our judgements of women, their bodies and choices, within a plot that can be understood through a linear, narrative reading or via a more fragmentary, imaginative understanding of the choices that the character makes, which are hinted at through visual clues embedded in the frame. My hope is that the film sparks debate on many levels, from its characters and themes, to its mise-en-scene and structure.
Kim Nelson – Writer, Director, Producer