Tuesday, July 24, 2007

These Girls

When I think of girl-gangs I think of LA or South Auckland, but girl gangs live on the streets of Cairo too. They sniff glue, pop pills, smoke pot, fight and talk. They get raped, get pregnant and raise their babies. It is a hard life and the girls stick together for protection against boys, men, the police and families. As one girl is taken home by her father another girl confidently predicts that "she will return before you finish filming".

The filming is mostly done in the evenings and focuses on one gang, led by Tata. Tata is not the biggest girl but is certainly the most aggressive, which is an advantage in the macho environment of Cairo's streets. She boosts her reputation by bragging about her fights and wins the respect of a local boy by rescuing him from the boot of a police car. Even within the gang violence and threats are used in an almost feral way to establish the pecking order. The flip side to the violence is the need these girls have for affection, and it is this perhaps more than the misery of being dirty poor that drives the urge to sniff glue etc. To our advantage these girls talk openly of their histories, their lives and emotions, and philosophise on drugs, rape, respect etc.

Whether you are interested, put-off or couldn't care less about street kids, I recommend this film as a realistic view on street kids. It doesn't moralise, patronise or lecture about the subject. It just lets us see and hear the kids. And did I mention the great scene of them galloping down a frighteningly busy Cairo street on horseback or dancing to music from a local cafe?

Ian's rating: 4/5

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