The Starling Girl

Director: Laurel Parmet
Screenwriters: Laurel Parmet


Seventeen-year-old Jem Starling struggles to define her place within her fundamentalist Christian community in rural Kentucky. Even her greatest joy — the church dance group — is tempered by worry that her love of dance is actually sinful, and she’s caught between a burgeoning awareness of her own sexuality and an instinctive resistance to her mom’s insistence that the time has come to begin courting. She finds respite from her confusion in the encouragement of her youth pastor Owen, who is likewise drawn to the blossoming Jem’s attention.

Writer-director Laurel Parmet delicately balances the intoxication and inappropriateness of the pair’s transgressive connection in this morally complex, sensitive coming-of-age story. A stellar Eliza Scanlen beautifully conveys the impetuous, conflicted Jem’s tentative journey toward understanding her growingly complicated ideas about herself, her family, and the faith that has always guided her life. The Starling Girl centers on Jem’s agency as Scanlen and a gruffly charismatic Lewis Pullman generate a palpable chemistry, even as the film steadily reaffirms Jem’s youthful naïveté and Owen’s position of authority.

This film offers Audio Description. For in-person screenings, please submit an accommodation request to arrange for an audio description device at your screening time/location. This assists our Accessibility team with ensuring enough devices are available.

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards


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