In The Starling Girl, we follow 17-year-old Jem Starling, played by Eliza Scanlen, as she battles with her budding sexuality and growing curiosity for boys while trying to stay true to her religious upbringing in the fundamentalist Christian church.

In an exclusive interview with uInterview during the Sundance Film Festival, director Laurel Parmet talked about female sexuality.

“I think female sexuality is omnipresent and should be celebrated and we shouldn’t feel guilty about it,” she said with a smile. “I want people to see it in films, the more that we normalize it the more that we won’t feel guilty when we experience it.”

Parmet then discussed her personal connection to the film.

“When I was a teenager, I had a similar relationship with a man and I didn’t feel like a victim and didn’t feel guilty about it, at first,” she revealed. “But then years later I felt very guilty about it. Then I met a group of women in Oklahoma from a Christian fundamentalist community, and they felt pretty guilty about their sexual desires. There was a woman in the community who had an affair with a man in the church and she had received the blame. At first when I heard that I was like, ‘oh god, that’s so messed up, that’s so backwards.’ And then I realized how much we actually had in common.”

Parmet continued, “I thought back to my relationship and how much guilt I had experienced because I had really pursued the guy. I felt guilty despite the fact that he had taken advantage of me. I decided I wanted to make a film looking back at my experience and set it in this world that has a lot of similarities to our own world.”

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