Their voices are heard “In the Shadows”

On Saturday, March 9, the Belcourt Theatre, in conjunction with Metro Nashville Public Schools’ Office of Restorative Practices, premiered the short film “In the Shadows.” The film was created as part of the Belcourt’s “Words Caught in My Throat,” a film seminar for African American girls.

In late 2018, a group of seventh and eighth girls gathered at the Belcourt for the three-session “Words Caught in My Throat” seminar. Under the leadership of Metro Nashville Public Schools’ Restorative Practices Specialist Melissa Gordon, the girls watched and discussed a series of short films about various aspects of black female identity—and utilizing hands-on activities and creative writing exercises, they then wrote original poems about times in their lives they’ve felt silenced. Producer and co-director Meleisha Edwards and co-director Brionna Scrivens, along with their all-women crew, captured the students’ personal reflections in the seminar to create “In the Shadows.” The result is a powerful, poignant first-person account of the struggles of middle school girls who feel misunderstood or invisible.

“Student voice is one connection point we often miss, especially from young women of color, said Melissa Gordon. “It is time to listen.”

“The Belcourt is so fortunate to partner with MNPS’s Melissa Gordon, a passionate educator who continually finds creative, holistic ways to support young people. We’re also thrilled to work with Meleisha Edwards and her amazing crew,” said Allison Inman, the Belcourt’s education and engagement director. “The girls in the seminar were not only able to develop their voices, they also got to watch black women filmmakers at work. This project is inspiring and impactful on so many levels.”  

The Q&A after the screening was equally as powerful. “The girls expressed how this film and the program has changed them and how they were able to find their voice,” added Edwards. “Many adults expressed that teachers, parents, and other community members can benefit from seeing this film, as well as other young people.”

After its March 9 premiere at the Belcourt, “In the Shadows” will be screened and discussed with middle schoolers through the Belcourt’s Mobile Movie Theatre program in Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA) sites across Nashville and in Metro Nashville Public Schools’ (MNPS) programs. The film will also be screened with MNPS teachers, students, and community members to encourage change in how student voices are supported and valued.

The project was made possible by the Highlander Research and Education Center’s We Shall Overcome Fund.

For more information about the Belcourt Theatre, visit

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