Parker Hill and Isabel Bethencourt, directors of the Showtime documentary Cusp, said their goal was to demonstrate the invisible burdens teenage girls face. They both spoke during Deadline’s Contenders Film: Documentary about their doc following three Texas teenagers.
“They’re wearing this invisible backpack that’s just weighing them down and it’s on their shoulders,” Hill said. “We really wanted to point to a lot of what’s going on at home but also out of the house socially.”
Bethencourt said she observed her subjects, as young as 15 and 16, learning 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 to say no or to value your own thoughts and feelings, it is something you have to contend with in youth.”
Hill added that the society around subjects Brittany, Aaloni and Autumn often asked them to reach the cusp of adulthood, as it were, faster than the girls were ready to.
“As a girl, sometimes even before you’re ready, people are sexualizing your body and looking at you differently,” Hill said. “The choice to be older sometimes is not made by you. It’s made by people around you and you have to figure out how to navigate that.”
Cusp, which premieres this week on Showtime, also depicts the trio consuming 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 life that are doing the same thing and living in a lifestyle sometimes where they’re just trying to survive, even if that’s just survive emotionally as much as with other means,” Hill said. “To capture this world is to capture them figuring out how to, as they would say, ‘sit in their feels’ or decide not to and avoid that and not try and focus on what’s bothering them and try and enjoy summer, enjoy 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 are applying to colleges.
Check out the panel video above.
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