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17 AND LIFE DOESN’T WAIT – MAUREEN JUDGE, DIRECTOR’S VISION STATEMENT

17 And Life Doesn’t Wait interweaves the lives of three tenacious 17 year-old girls in their final year of high school, as they experience, for better or for worse, the impact of the outside world. Through their eyes, the stories speak to contemporary issues, mores and values, by real, multi-dimensional individuals who bring personal histories, excitement and struggles to the screen.

I became interested in examining the attitudes of teen girls in after the U.S. election of 2016, when Trump defeated Clinton and the dream of breaking the glass ceiling was shattered. With the election loss, and the new U.S. President flaunting his misogyny, a clear signal was given that gender inequality and sexism had not abated.
This situation only reinforced what I discovered while making my last film, My Millennial Life, about young working adults finding a place in the 21st Century, that, while 52% of low-wage hourly employees are millennials, 70% of all these hourly employees are women.

I began to wonder what it was like for teen girls who, on the precipice of adulthood, had grown up with conflicting expectations – under pressure to achieve and do what the boys do, while still living in a gender-divided culture. How are our next generation of adult women being affected by the political, economic and societal events of our time? Can they move beyond sexual politics?

I discovered that over 55% of today’s teen girls believe they get mixed messages from society: be smart, but not too smart; play sports, but not those sports; follow your dreams, but not in that field. Yet, in spite of contrary signals, many girls are super-achievers or, perfectionists, trying to be everything to everyone. And that’s taking a toll. 50% of girls also report anxiety and depression before graduating from high school.

This cohort is the first to be literally born in the digital age; to have grown up in in an economically unstable world; to find themselves in a culture where mass school violence is becoming more frequent; and, at a time, where the concept of gender and sexuality is going through a radical change.

While filming 17 And Life Doesn’t Wait, the #MeToo movement exploded, the Parkland shooting in Florida happened, university acceptances, scholarships and graduation created stress and anxiety at a fever pitch, and while the perennial senior prom remained a major focus, events around sexual identity, assault, and suicide, formed the quotidian backdrop to the girls’ Instagramable lives. Some events impacted the girls’ directly, while others were just part of the background noise they lived with.

As in my previous documentaries, 17 And Life Doesn’t Wait, captures moving portraits of its subjects, as they respond to their situations, families, and others around them. For the three very different and diverse girls in the final high school year, their eyes are opened to the larger world, and because, as one of them points out ‘life doesn’t wait’, they recognize they have to have courage and move forward in their independence, understanding and ability to adapt.

The documentary is filmed in an observational style; close-up and intimate with the featured subjects, and at the same time, respectfully observing without judgment or contrivance, and with a sense of humour. The ethical core of the film is in the contextual presentation of the subjects where, through thoughtful and honest observation and in-situ interviews, we watch the subjects handle their family relationships, academic and social challenges, needs, and motivations.

Through the subjects’ own voices, 17 And Life Doesn’t Wait entertains, while examining what teen girls are up against. It reveals their frustrations and successes, and their strengths and abilities to take charge of their lives and identities.

I hope 17 And Life Doesn’t Wait sparks a dialogue around the changing roles and values for women, and how teen girls, as they grow into adults, can best deal with the conflicting expectations and values in society.

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Premiere Screening – 17 And Life Doesn’t Wait

On Thursday, September 19th, at Innis Town Hall Theatre, the premiere screening was held for 17 And Life Doesn’t Wait. Along with premiering the film, the screening also featured a panel with the teen girls from the film and was moderated by Nam Kiwaunuka of TVO’s The Agenda.

The Canadian Broadcast premiere is on Thursday, September 26th on TVO at 9pm.

 

Contact Ingrid Hamilton, GAT Publicity for more information:
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On heels of the CSA Award, My Millennial Life wins a Gold Medal at New York Festivals for Documentary

My Millennial Life is a Gold Medal winner in Documentary at the 2017 New York Festivals, Film & Television Awards.

Big thanks go out to the millennials — Hope, Meron, James, Emily, Kirsty, Tim and Mark — who gave their time and shared their stories, my producing partner Charlotte Engel (Rock Yenta Productions), and to production team who participated in the making of the film.

The film could not have been made without the generous support of our broadcaster TVO, Bell Fund, Rogers Documentary Fund, CMF, iChannel, and the Canadian Federal and Provincial Tax Credits.

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My Millennial Life wins Canadian Screen Award (CSA) for Best Doc Program

On March 8th, My Millennial Life was announced as the 2017 CSA winner for Best Documentary Program! Producing partner, Charlotte Engel and I were thrilled to accept the award, and honoured that MML had been chosen by the Canadian Academy.

It was a fantastic evening. We sat with our friends from TVO, John Ferri and Linda Fong, and together had the opportunity to applaud many talented and deserving creators as they came on stage and accepted their awards.

We’d like to thank the millennials who appear in the documentary, the entire MML team, TVO, and everyone who contributed to making the project such a success.

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My Millennial Life Screens at Toronto Reference Library Dec. 1, 6:30 pm

As part of the Toronto Reference Library’s  “Thought Exchange Series”  My Millennial Life is being presented on Thursday, December 1, 6:30 pm

My Millennial Life is a provocative documentary about millennials and tackles the plight of the overqualified and the underemployed. See if your experience as a millennial, the parent or the employer of a millennial, matches the experience of the twenty-somethings and boomers in the documentary.

Maureen will be there with one of the millennials featured in the project to share stories about making the film, talk about the struggles of finding meaningful work, falling in love and building relationships and a life after graduation.

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Universal Acclaim for My Millennial Life

My Millennial Life screened to an enthusiastic full house and the critical acclaim for the Broadcast premiere was resounding

John Doyle, TV critic of the Globe and Mail, called the film: ‘A major work about the current twentysomething generation…As this lovely textured documentary unfolds and we learn more about the subjects, going beneath the surface, all we can feel is sympathy.’

Emma Teitel, columnist for The Toronto Star and also a millennial, noted that the film ‘succeeds at capturing the little things that render millennial, big city life lonely: For one, trying to upsell your achievements and downplay your failures to mom over Skype…’

Teitel, ‘can’t ditch the feeling that while millennial despair and disillusionment is exacerbated by a crappy, changing economy, it is also probably universal to youth in any modern era.’

Reading her column, I couldn’t help thinking back to my twenties when I was first working, renting an apartment and falling in love.  Clearly, gaining independence was easier and the future a lot clearer, but many of the universal travails of growing up that are captured in the film are relatable to multiple generations.