In 2009, thirteen-year-old Laura Dekker announced that she was going to try to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo. After a long battle with the Dutch court, the teen, who was born on a boat in New Zealand and spent her first five years at sea, took off on her journey in her thirty-eight-foot ketch appropriately dubbed Guppy. Laura’s inspiring — and controversial — story is told in the winning documentary Maidentrip. Jillian Schlesinger’s debut feature-length film follows Laura as she circumnavigates the globe by herself, sailing across long stretches of sometimes treacherous ocean and making stops to experience a variety of lands and cultures. The bulk of Maidentrip is told in Laura’s own voice, as she films herself on board Guppy and talks not only about her adventure but also about her personal life, including discussing the effects of her parents’ divorce on her and her sister when she was five. “I love being alone,” Laura says at one point. “And I guess, yeah, I feel like freedom is when you’re not attached to anything.” As serious as she is about sailing, she is still a teenager, dancing in front of the camera playfully and throwing a little hissy fit when a visitor annoys her. It all makes for an intimate coming-of-age story as Laura, who values her privacy, grows up in public. Should her parents, particularly her father, who she chose to live with, have allowed the teen to go on this trip in the first place? Is it the court’s responsibility to intercede in such situations? Schlesinger gets the controversy out of the way early, never again revisiting what many people will consider a wrongheaded and dangerous decision, but they’re likely to change their mind once they watch Laura persevere and flourish at sea. Winner of the Audience Award at the Cannes Film Festival and SXSW, Maidentrip opens January 17 at the IFC Center, with Schlesinger and producer Emily McAllister on hand to talk about the film at the 6:25 and 8:25 screenings on Friday and Saturday night.