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What people are saying about “Girl Talk”

“This film is an inspiring snapshot of the future of female leaders. Each of the five young women has a powerful and unique voice you can’t help but listen to, celebrate and support. This generation of young women undaunted and resolute, are changing the game, and in the process changing the world.”

— Maura Healey, Massachusetts Governor-Elect

“Competing on my high school debate team opened up a whole world of possibilities for me as a teenage girl. I learned to fall in love with my own mind, to trust my voice, and to believe that when I spoke I deserved to be heard. Thirty years later, watching the brilliant young debaters in GIRL TALK put themselves on the line in the same way, I was intensely moved both by how much has changed and how much hasn’t. This is a galvanizing, often joyous film about growing up and learning to claim your ground.”

— Heidi Schreck, Tony-Nominated Playwright for ‘What the Constitution Means to Me,’ Actor & Writer

“Competing in high school debate changed my life. I learned how to be a top notch critical thinker, researcher, and public speaker, but more importantly I discovered my voice and the power of ideas. As a young woman, debate empowered me to use those skills inside and outside of competition. I became a more confident and outspoken leader and still use my debate skills today.”

— Yvanna Cancela, First Latina NV State Senator, NV Governor Sislak Chief of Staff

“From the pen twirling to the debate jargon, I was immediately transported back to high school while watching this film. It is incredible to see so much of my story reflected in these young, girl debaters.  I found this movie inspiring because, like so many former girl debaters, they persevered in the face of bias. The foundation of who I am was built Saturday by Saturday, tournament by tournament as a high school debater. This film is a glimpse into that world.”

— Thamar E. Harrigan, Chief of Staff & White House Liaison at U.S. Trade and Development Agency

“I was a high school debater in Minnesota, which was the most valuable activity I could have engaged in.  I learned to love public speaking – a skill I’ve used in every job I’ve ever held.   I learned how to gather evidence and make a clearly reasoned argument.  The debate topics for my years also got me reading some economics, which in turn led me to an economics undergraduate degree and PhD.   And through debate I made lifelong friends.” 

Rebecca Blank, Chancellor of University of Wisconsin-Madison 

“GIRL TALK is using debate to illustrate some very important themes for all of us; the power of free speech, the power of independent thinking, the necessity of evidence based research and analysis and the crucial importance of learning to how exchange ideas and engage in discourse about the most controversial, sensitive issues and especially with those we disagree with. This is essential if we are going to move our democracy forward, and overcome the polarization and division and breathe life into our original national motto e pluribus unum, out of many one.”

— Nadine Strossen, Civil liberties activist, New York Law School Professor Emeritus, & First Female Director of the ACLU

“GIRL TALK reveals both the power of high school debate in shaping the ability to think and communicate (it had a profound impact on my development as a lawyer) as well as the ongoing power of gender norms and the ways in which those norms continue to affect the development of the next generation of leaders. And it’s also a compulsively watchable story about how girls come to see themselves as people in the world.”

— Daralyn Durie, Founding Partner at Durie Tangri, Board member at National Women’s Law Center

“If you’ve ever been a girl or met someone socialized as a girl, SEE THIS DOCUMENTARY ASAP. Absolutely inspiring look at the world of speech and debate through an equitable lens.”

Kendra Stanton Lee, Writer & Educator

“As a debater and advocate for women in the debate space, this film was a joy to watch. It so beautifully reflects the journey countless young women have traveled in their debate careers- the triumphs, the hardships, and the growth. The film reminded me of why I love this activity so much, but it also reminded me that the fight for equity in the debate space is far from over. GIRL TALK starts important conversations, conversations that are relevant and essential to have beyond just debate. Everyone should see this film!”

Ella Schnake, 2019 National Champion in Program Oral Interpretation for her performance Debate Like a Girl

“Local filmmaker Lucia Small’s funny, moving, and slyly incisive look at five female members of the Newton South debate team offers a microcosm of how women encountering patriarchal prejudice can fight back”

Peter Keough, Boston Globe

“Without high school debate, I’m not sure I’d be a writer. I went from a shy girl afraid of using her voice to a person able to speak about any number of big-deal issues in front of crowds—and even win trophies while doing so. But more important than the trophies was the sense of empowerment it brought: What I had to say mattered! I loved watching the young women in GIRL TALK embrace their own individual strengths through debate, conquer fears, and learn that their voices, opinions, and thoughts are not only powerful and important, but also vital to changing the world. We need them, and movies like this one, for our future!”

-Jen Doll, journalist and author, most recently of the upcoming young adult novel That’s Debatable

“The documentary is a great demonstration of the highs and lows of debate. It also demonstrates how important it is for women (and men) to support each other. Debate creates amazing opportunities, but most importantly it helps students grow and develop meaningful relationships.”

-Dr. Christi Siver, High School Institute Committee Chair at Women’s Debate Institute

“This film sheds light on the experience that so many female debaters go through, but they felt like they couldn’t express their disdain towards.”

Chikamso, High School Senior, Debater

“GIRL TALK opens your perspective and shows the love and dedication for an activity most people don’t understand.”

Apikshya, High School Junior, Debater

“It is the kind of film I needed when I was a young female debater.”

Jasmine Stidham, Assistant Director of Debate at Harvard-Westlake & Assistant Coach at Dartmouth College

“My debaters were deeply moved and impressed with the film. We appreciated the way that the film showed both the development of VOICE by young women AND the ways that males were shown as true allies in that development. This is why I think the message of the film transcends gender and yet points out the ways that debate has not been an equal playing field for all.”

Tim Averill, Debate Coach & Founder of The Timothy C. Averill Debate Education Fund