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Strong Leads Spring 2023

Strong Leads: A Film Seminar for High School Girls is a free after-school program spotlighting films by women. It is designed for 10th, 11th and 12th girls of all identities including gender-nonconforming youth. 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.

Students will meet at the Belcourt Tuesdays, April 4 to 25, 4:00-7:30pm, to watch films and discuss with their peers. Strong Leads is facilitated by Allison Inman, the Belcourt’s education and engagement director, and Jessie Griffith, the Belcourt’s theatre operations director and education associate.  

Participation in Strong Leads is by application only. This seminar is offered at no cost to participants, but capacity is limited, and students 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). Please note that the seminar is for 10th, 11th and 12th grade students. No exceptions, please.

Strong Leads 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.


Applications are due Mon, March 27, and applicants will be confirmed and notified Tue, March 28.

Tue, Apr 4 | ALMA’S RAINBOW (Dir. Ayoka Chenzira | USA | 1994 | 85 min. | NR)

Tue Apr 11 |  THE FAREWELL (Dir. Lulu Wang | USA | 2019 | 100 min. | PG)

Tue, Apr 18 |  SHARE (Dir. Pippa Bianco | France/Singapore/USA | 2019 | 87 min. | R)

Tue, Apr 25 | GIRL PICTURE (Dir. Alli Haapasalo | Finland | 2022 | 100 min. | NR)

In this coming-of-age comedy-drama, Rainbow Gold is a strong-willed teenager with a firecracker personality. Her mother, Alma Gold, is a respectable woman who runs a beauty parlor on the first floor of their Brooklyn apartment. Determined not to acquiesce to a quiet, domestic life like her mother, Rainbow becomes enthralled by the seemingly glamorous lifestyle of her cosmopolitan aunt, Ruby Gold, who has unexpectedly dropped in after a 10-year hiatus in Paris, France. The sisters weave in and out of fighting over Rainbow’s future and finding fond nostalgia in reflecting over  their own youth. Meanwhile, Rainbow dances through the colorful urban streets, declaring autonomy over her own identity.

In this funny, uplifting tale based on an actual lie, Chinese-American Billi (Awkwafina) reluctantly returns to Changchun, China as her family’s beloved matriarch Nai-Nai has been given mere weeks to live. Keeping Nai-Nai in the dark, the family gathers to honor her under the guise of an impromptu wedding, uniting scattered family members. As Billi navigates a minefield of family expectations, she finds there’s a lot to celebrate: a chance to rediscover the country she left as a child, her grandmother’s wondrous spirit, and the ties that keep on binding even when so much goes unspoken. Director Lulu Wang depicts both the way we perform family and the way we live it, weaving a richly moving story about how to forestall a family crisis with a practical lie. In English and Mandarin with English subtitles

Mandy is living every teen’s worst nightmare: the discovery of a disturbing video from a night she can’t remember. This jarringly original film stars Rhianne Baretto as the 16-year-old athlete whose world is upended as the video – which features a vulnerable, unconscious Mandy – begins to circulate in her community. Written and directed by newcomer Pippa Bianco, and based on her acclaimed short film, SHARE takes an unflinching look at the intense pain, uncertainty, isolation and loss that Mandy maneuvers with incredible courage, ultimately telling the story of a young woman determined to reclaim her own fate.

Best friends Mimmi and Rönkkö have each other’s backs, always. They want to live adventurous lives, loaded with experiences and passion. Emma, on the contrary, has given her whole life to figure skating. Nothing gets between her and success. But when the girls meet, life opens new paths, and they all rocket in new directions. Within the film’s tender, funny exploration of the fears and confusions of discovering one’s identity and sexuality, a refreshingly positive portrait of the power of female friendship emerges. Writers Daniela Hakulinen and Ilona Ahti consistently present the film’s teen protagonists as complex individuals, while director Alli Haapasalo, rather than aestheticizing the girls’ femininity, vibrantly depicts their trials and tribulations through their own eyes. In Finnish with English Subtitles