‘The Starling Girl’ Director Laurel Parmet On Her First Film – Sundance Studio

The Deadline Studio at Sundance Film Festival runs January 20-23 at Hotel Park City, where the cast and creatives behind the best and buzziest titles in this year’s lineup sit down with Deadline’s festival team to discuss their movies and the paths they took to get to Park City. 


Section: U.S. Dramatic Competition
Director: Laurel Parmet
Screenwriter:  Laurel Parmet
Logline: 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. 

Panelists: Eliza Scanlon (Jem Starling); Lewis Pullman (Owen); Jimmi Simpson and Wren Schmidt, Jem’s father and mother. 
Premiered: January 21
Key Quote: Director Laurel Parmet said the seeds of the film lie in a relationship she had as a teenager with an older man. “At the time I didn’t feel like a victim about it and I thought that I had a lot of agency in the relationship. And after it ended, I had a lot of guilt. But I pushed those feelings away. Then, years later, I met women from a fundamentalist community in Oklahoma and spent time with them and learned that they were a part of a patriarchal community, and they believed it was the woman’s job not to lead the man into temptation and, basically, they were taught to be ashamed of their sexual desires and I just realized how much we had in common.” 

Click above to watch the panel video, and track all of our Deadline Studio content here.

RELATED: Sundance Film Festival U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winners Through The Years – Photo Gallery

The 2023 Sundance Film Festival takes place from January 19-29. Follow Deadline’s complete coverage of the deals and the doings in Park City here.

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