Parker Hill and Isabelle Bethencourt, directors of the Show Time documentary cusp, said their goal was to showcase the invisible burdens teenage girls face. They both spoke on Deadline’s Contenders Film: Documentary about their documentary about three teens from Texas.
“They carry this invisible backpack that only makes them heavy and on their shoulders,” Hill said. “We really wanted to point out a lot of what goes on at home, as well as socially outside the home.”
Bethencourt said she observed her subjects, as young as 15 and 16 years old, and learned to say no.
“One of the things we wanted to highlight is the process of growing up and finding your own agency,” Bethencourt said. “I think for a lot of girls that process of saying no or valuing your own thoughts and feelings is something you go through in childhood.”
Hill added that society around subjects of Brittany, Aaloni and Autumn often asked them to reach the threshold of adulthood, as it were, faster than the girls were ready.
“As a girl, sometimes even before you’re ready, people sexualize your body and look at you differently,” Hill said. “Sometimes the choice to be a parent is not made by you. It was created by people around you and you have to figure out how to navigate through that.
Button, premiering this week on Showtime, it also features the trio taking drugs, alcohol, and vaping. Hill said some of that trickled down from the adults.
“I think a lot of these kids are around adults in their lives who do the same thing and sometimes live in a lifestyle where they’re just trying to survive, even if it’s just as much emotionally as it is by any other means,” Hill said. “Capturing this world is capturing them as they figure out how they can, as they would say, ‘get into their feelings’ or decide not to and avoid that and not try to focus on what’s bothering them and try to enjoy the summer, enjoying being young. I think part of it is figuring out how to do both.”
Aaloni is now in her senior year on the wrestling team, Bethencourt said. Brittany and Autumn apply to colleges.
Come back Tuesday for the panel video.