The writer-director Molly Manning Walker perched on a stool at the Bushwick bar Mood Ring the other night, trying to talk her way out of doing karaoke. “I’m not a singer,” she said, apologetically, after the bartender encouraged her to make an attempt. “I’m pretty tone-deaf.” Growing up in London, in the two-thousands, she’d filmed her brother’s punk band from the pit; finding a way to get involved without playing an instrument, she said, had been a matter of urgency: “I was, like, ‘Fuck, give me a camera, quick!’ ” The camera worked out. Manning Walker shot music videos for such artists as A$AP Rocky, became the cinematographer for the Sundance award winner “Scrapper,” and, last year, won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes for her début feature, “How to Have Sex.” The film, which opened this week, follows a trio of British girls through a Dionysian rite of passage: the post-exams holiday. In 2010, Manning Walker took hers in the Majorcan town of Magaluf; she went back years later to conduct research for the movie, this time taking notes on her nights out. “I was constantly writing down what people were saying,” she recalled. The plot, ultimately set in Crete, tracks the complicated bonds between teens—shaped by petty jealousies, easy intimacy, and try-hard posturing—at a pivotal moment. Manning Walker, now thirty, has short, bleached-blond hair and a low-key geniality. She shot “How to Have Sex” during the winter, when tourists flee Crete for warmer climes. The all-important club scenes required hundreds of extras (“We had buses of teen-agers coming in from all over the island”), and she found herself having to coax her freezing leading lady, Mia McKenna-Bruce, back into the pool for additional takes. The team built camaraderie through soccer matches, barbecues, and sing-alongs. “The whole film was meant to be designed in two halves,” Manning Walker said. “The first part is like Disneyland—fun, all the colors are quite clean and not messy. And then, slowly, it disintegrates.” She’d experienced this darker side of the scene herself. When she was in her teens, she was assaulted […]

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