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A Y2K teen girl struggles to connect fantasy and reality when she gets a piercing on her birthday.

Director’s Vision for ‘Bellybutton’

Bellybutton is based on a personal experience I had as a thirteen year old in 2002, when my mother took me to have my bellybutton pierced only to have my father find out later that day and violently insist it be removed. This event seeped into the top soil of my consciousness where it has remained as a formative experience that shapes my understanding of bodily autonomy and the limits of female agency within certain power structures.

My aim with this film was to tell this personal story and in doing so, create a portrait of adolescent girlhood and the commercial and cultural factors that shape our understanding of female identity. A key inspiration for this film was Lauren Greenfield’s photo book “Girl Culture” in which she documents this moment of American girlhood.

I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to make my first film with talented young actors, teenagers themselves, who brought their own perspective on agency and adolescence to the film, teaching me much about how societally we have evolved since 2002 and yet how resonant these themes still are.