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Belcourt - Nashville's Nonprofit Cinema

Strong Leads: A Film Seminar for High School Girls

Strong Leads: A Film Seminar for High School Girls is an after-school seminar spotlighting films about and made by women. It is designed for 10th, 11th and 12th grade girls. A presentation of the Belcourt’s education and engagement program, Strong Leads explores gender representation in cinema, in the Hollywood establishment, and in film discourse. 

We’ll feature films from a variety of genres and cultures—and follow with discussions and activities. Strong Leads sessions take place on consecutive Mondays, Mar 30 – Apr 27, 4:00-7:30pm.

Please note: Participation in Strong Leads is by application only, and space is limited. This seminar is offered at no cost to participants, but you must apply and be selected to attend. It is designed for students only and is meant to be taken in its entirety (no single sessions). Popcorn and bottled water are provided.

Application deadline is Fri Mar 20. Participants will be notified on Tue Mar 24.

About the Films:

Mon Mar 30 | HALF THE PICTURE (Dir. Amy Adrion | USA | 2018 | 94 min. | NR)

Mon Apr 6 | LOVE AND BASKETBALL (Dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood | USA | 2000 | 124 min. | PG-13)

Mon Apr 13 | SHIRKERS (Dir. Sandi Tan | USA/UK | 2018 | 97 min. | NR)

Mon Apr 20 | IN BETWEEN (Dir. Maysaloun Hamoud | Israel/France | 2018 | 105 min. | R)

Mon Apr 27 | BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER (Dir. Jamie Babbit | USA | 1999 | 92 min. | R)

This series features high-quality films designed to spark conversation about important issues. Because of that, some films contain adult situations, profanity, drug/alcohol use, nudity, sexual situations, and violence.

First-time director Amy Adrion’s HALF THE PICTURE celebrates the groundbreaking work of female filmmakers and investigates systemic discrimination that has for decades denied opportunities to far too many talented women in Hollywood. Gender-parity experts and academics discuss Hollywood’s dismal employment practices, and these conversations are woven between interviews with prominent women directors (including Jamie Babbit, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Kasi Lemmons, Catherine Hardwicke, Miranda July, Penelope Spheeris, Ava DuVernay, and many others), telling their stories of breaking into a male-centered business. They confirm the double standards that still exist while eloquently outlining their career paths, their struggles, and their hopes for the future.

Gina Prince-Bythewood's dazzling debut is a milestone among sports films, and a milestone among Black screen romances. It emphasizes the love over the basketball, and the female point-of-view over the male, but without short-changing the other side in either case. The story covers roughly a dozen years in the relationship between Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps), next-door neighbors since childhood, both nurturing hoop dreams. Quincy, the son of an NBA star (Dennis Haysbert), has been groomed for glory, while Monica has to struggle during an era when opportunities for women are limited. A b-ball wannabe and track star in college, Prince-Bythewood knows how to capture the intensity of competition, but she also takes time to develop the characters (including the parents) off-court, resulting in a film of uncommon emotional depth. Executive produced by Spike Lee; music by Terence Blanchard.

SHIRKERS was a Singapore-made 1992 cult classic from teenage friends Sandi Tan, Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique -- or it would have been, had the 16mm footage not been stolen by their enigmatic American collaborator, Georges Cardona. More than two decades after Cardona disappeared, Tan, now a writer in Los Angeles, returns to the country of her youth and to the memories of a man who both enabled and thwarted her dreams. Magically, too, she returns to the film itself, revived in a way she never could have imagined.

In Maysaloun Hamoud’s debut feature, three Palestinian women share an apartment in the heart of Tel Aviv. Lalia, a criminal lawyer with a wicked wit, burns off her workday stress in the underground club scene and begins a new relationship with a modern Muslim man. Salma, slightly more subdued, is a DJ and bartender who struggles with the notion of coming out to her Christian family. When Nur, a younger, religious Muslim girl moves into the apartment to study at the university, the increasingly secular nature of her life clashes with her conservative fiancé, who wants her to leave Tel Aviv and assume her rightful role as a wife. These three very different women find themselves doing the same balancing act between tradition and modernity, citizenship and culture, and fealty and freedom.

Jamie Babbit’s creative feature debut follows Megan Bloomfield (Natasha Lyonne), a high school cheerleader who is sent to gay conversion therapy camp when her parents suspect her to be a lesbian. She meets a girl named Graham (Clea DuVall) who begins to challenge the camp’s ideals and what it means to be gay. Filled to the brim with clever innuendos, colorful imagery, and witty characters (including Ru Paul as a camp leader) BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER is sure to make you smile and laugh while also offering a satirical look at issues surrounding queer identity and gender roles. Using comedy to attack hard-hitting topics like heteronormativity is a change of pace from how these issues are traditionally discussed, and the film doesn’t resort to tragic piano music to show us the absurdity of reparative therapy. Using an out-there sense of humour, BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER is a vivid exploration of gender, sexuality, and identity — and it’s more relevant today than ever.

Facilitated by Allison Inman, the Belcourt’s education and engagement director. The seminar will be held in the Belcourt’s second floor Jackson Education and Engagement Space and Manzler/Webb Screening Room.

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