The Belcourt Theatre brings back Strong Leads, a free virtual after-school film seminar for high school girls, for four sessions on Mondays, Oct. 25 through Nov. 15, 4:30–5:30 p.m.

Nashville, TENN. — This fall, the Belcourt brings back Strong Leads A Film Seminar for High School Girls, its free after-school program spotlighting films by and about women. Designed for 10th, 11th, and 12th girls of all identities and now in its fifth year, Strong Leads explores gender representation in cinema, in the Hollywood establishment, and in film discourse.

A presentation of the Belcourt’s education and engagement program, Strong Leads participation is by application only. Applications are available at — and are due Oct. 20. Applicants will be confirmed and notified on Oct. 21.

Students will watch films on their own and meet virtually on Mondays, Oct. 25 to Nov. 15, 4:30-5:30 p.m., to discuss with their peers. All films are available to stream for free via (with ads) or a private link from the Belcourt. Students need an internet connection to view films and join the Zoom meetings.

The seminar is facilitated by Allison Inman, the Belcourt’s education and engagement director, and Jessie Griffith, the Belcourt’s theatre operations director and education associate.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this slate of films from four directors from different parts of the world. From a Quebec Innu community to a French high school to a Hollywood red carpet to a remote Turkish village, these are outstanding films with unique storylines that I think are also relatable to girls everywhere, said Inman. “The most consistent feedback we receive from Strong Leads students is ‘I appreciate seeing films that I never would’ve found before,’ and that’s really the most gratifying part of all. I’m so looking forward to meeting another virtual group till we’re back in person again.”

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.

Films included in the Fall 2021 Strong Leads seminar:

Mon, Oct 25 | KUESSIPAN (Dir. Miryam Verreault | Canada | 2019 | 117min | G

Mon, Nov 1 | BREATHE (Dir. Mélanie Laurent | France | 2014 | 91min | Not Rated

Mon, Nov 8 | BEYOND THE LIGHTS (Dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood | USA | 2014 | 116min | PG-13

Mon, Nov 15 | MUSTANG (Dir. Deniz Gamze Ergüven | Turkey | 2015 | 94min | Not Rated

Adapted from Naomi Fontaine’s acclaimed novel, KUESSIPAN is Myriam Verreault’s first narrative feature. In a Quebec Innu community, Mikuan (Sharon Fontaine-Ishpatao) and Shaniss (Yamie Grégoire) struggle to maintain their close friendship when they clash over their diverging ambitions. When Mikuan falls in love with a white boy and starts to consider a life beyond their tiny reserve, her bond with Shaniss and her family are put to the test. A coming-of-age story told with humour, tenderness, and heartbreak, KUESSIPAN is a poignant exploration of evolving friendship and dreams, and the bonds that will forever root us in our culture. KUESSIPAN is told through an Indigenous lens yet remains relevant to us all as we discover the power of community — along with the individual strength it takes to follow our own path.

Charlie (Joséphine Japy) is seventeen and bored. Her estranged parents are too involved in their own drama to pay her much attention. School holds no surprises either, and Charlie grows tired of her staid friends. Enter Sarah (Lou de Laâge), a confident and charismatic transfer student who brings with her an alluring air of boldness and danger. In her second directorial outing, internationally acclaimed actress Mélanie Laurent (INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS) offers a compelling, superbly acted portrait of adolescent friendship perched on the brink of obsession that unfolds with equal amounts of tenderness and terror, suggesting a chaste BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR by way of SINGLE WHITE FEMALE. Laurent applies a sure, sensitive hand to tonally tricky material. She trusts her gifted young stars with challenging long takes and they reward her faith in abundance. BREATHE was the hit of the Critics’ Week at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

From acclaimed filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood (LOVE & BASKETBALL, THE OLD GUARD), BEYOND THE LIGHTS is the story of Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the music world’s latest superstar. Despite her success, all is not what it seems, and the pressures of fame and an overbearing mother (Minnie Driver) have Noni on the edge – until she meets Kaz Nicol (Nate Parker), a young cop and aspiring politician who’s been assigned to her detail. Drawn to each other, Noni and Kaz fall fast and hard, despite the protests of those around them who urge them to put their career ambitions ahead of their romance.

The feature debut of Turkish filmmaker Deniz Gamze Ergüven is a sensitive and powerful portrait of sisterhood and burgeoning sexuality. Early summer in a village in Northern Turkey, five free-spirited teenaged sisters splash about on the beach with their male classmates. Though their games are merely innocent fun, a neighbor passes by and reports what she considers to be illicit behavior to the girls’ family. The family overreacts, removing all “instruments of corruption,” like cell phones and computers, and essentially imprisoning the girls, subjecting them to endless lessons in housework in preparation for them to become brides. As the eldest sisters are subjected to virginity tests and married off one by one, the younger sisters look on in fear and resolve not to succumb to the same fate. MUSTANG was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2016 Academy Awards.

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