“I feel like I’m not old enough to be 17. I thought I’d be more comfortable in my own skin.” –Dusty
ALL THIS PANIC is a documentary film created by Director Jenny Gage and husband, Cinematographer Tom Betterton, which captures the stories of seven Brooklyn neighborhood girls as they stumble awkwardly through three years of discovering who they are, what they want and how they’ll embrace the first tastes of young adulthood. Seven separate and sometimes intertwined portraits are assembled together in this mosaic-like work that sets aside judgment and agenda to augment authenticity. The film highlights all of the breathy, emotive and sometimes eruptive and painful states of these teenaged girls struggling with identity, self-awareness and the anxiety of launching out into the future.
Relationships are the binding force between all of these stories, sometimes with one another, but always with parents, siblings, friends and especially with themselves. Sometimes supportive and loving, other times combative and heartbreaking, relationships keep the stories flowing and provide depth of meaning.
Beyond relationships, the girls also share several common threads that allow for a cohesive storyline: similar ages, location and some common struggles. However, it is their vast differences that make the film compelling. Differences in family support and stability, socio-economic issues, and all of the little bits of vulnerability that emerge through an open dialogue as the teens speak candidly about their unique hopes, fears and musings that gives the film its heartbeat.
The audience experience is destined to be a mixture of thoughts, criticisms, celebrations and perspectives, because the filmmakers don’t prescribe any filters to cloud opinions. Some parents of teen girls may find themselves anxious and concerned, making comparisons to their own family, while other teens will likely take note of similarities between their friends and even themselves. Others will be celebrating the memories of their own youth or even reliving painful memories of their teenaged angst and struggles that parallel the girls’ battles and fears. Whatever varied perspectives audiences embrace, however, it is sure to spark some interesting thinking and conversations. This is definitely a film to watch with friends and family if you’re brave enough to embark on an intriguing, even revealing post-film dialogue.
ALL THIS PANIC, currently screening in NYC, opens in L.A. on April 14.