Private Project


Set in the cutthroat, male-dominated world of high school debate where tomorrow’s leaders are groomed, GIRL TALK tells the timely story of five girls on a diverse, top-ranked Massachusetts high school debate team as they strive to become the best debaters in the United States.

  • Lucia Small
    "My Father, The Genius", Co-Director: "The Axe in the Attic", "One Cut, One Life"
  • Dia Sokol Savage, Lucia Small
    "Funny, Ha, Ha", "Mutual Appreciation", "Sixteen and Pregnant", "Teen Mom"
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 30 minutes 45 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 8, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    551,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • IFF Boston
    United States
    May 1, 2022
    World Premiere
    2022 Audience Award Winner - Documentary Feature
Distribution Information
  • PBS Distribution
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights, Internet, Video on Demand, Pay Per View, Airline, Paid TV
Director Biography - Lucia Small

LUCIA SMALL, Director • Producer • Cinematographer • Additional Editor is an award-winning independent filmmaker best known for her daring, boundary-pushing, first person non-fiction work, with MY FATHER, THE GENIUS (2002) as her directorial debut. She later teamed up with the seminal documetarian Ed Pincus (BLACK NATHCHEZ, 1967 and DIARIES: 1971-1976) to co-direct THE AXE IN THE ATTIC (2007) and ONE CUT, ONE LIFE (2014). Embracing the notion of personal as political, artist as responsible participant, Lucia tackles complex political and social issue themes on gender, race, class, and the environment with unique intimacy, nuance, and humor. Her critically-acclaimed work has screened worldwide, including at the New York Film Festival, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Cinema Du Reel, Full Frame Film Festival, Slamdance Film Festival, Torino Film Festival and IDFA. GIRL TALK is Small's first longitudinal, cinema verite study.

As a freelancer, Small has consulted on, edited and produced various ITVS, POV, Independent Lens, and PBS projects. Her most recent credits include co-editor THE RABBI GOES WEST (2019 World Premiere SF Jewish Film), co-editor EAT UP (2019) which premiered at IFFBoston and won IFFBoston Karen Schmeer Best Editing Award, and editorial consultant GRACE AFTER FIRE (2017 DOC NYC).

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Director Statement

Throughout my years as an independent filmmaker, working in both fiction and nonfiction, I have found collaborating with my colleagues and subjects an essential part of my filmmaking process. I believe it is my obligation to challenge myself to be vulnerable and authentic with my film subjects. I have always included myself in my films in some way because I feel this is a direct and honest way to disclose the inherent power of the filmmaker, and my privilege as a white filmmaker. I also believe it is my responsibility as an artist to challenge comfortable viewing spaces, and invite the audience to look at their own preconceptions, biases, and privileges as well. How does the audience perceive my point of view in relation to their own, to my white male counterparts? My female counterparts? Does my voice resonate or irritate as I hold my position as white female filmmaker?

With GIRL TALK, a long awaited opportunity emerged to explore similar themes of power and bias but without my entering into the film directly. It is a shift in approach, but my goals as an artist and my commitment to honest and authentic representation remain. In the elite, male-dominated world of high school debate, young women must tackle issues of confidence, identity, and bias head on. Debate is a cutthroat environment where perceptual dominance wins the day. Female debaters are judged not only on their performance, but also directly judged against their male counterparts, who predominantly win. Our five principal girl debaters learn to overcome these obstacles and with the support of their male and female teammates, emerge as winners, claiming their position as a new generation of future leaders.

The story of GIRL TALK offers an exciting opportunity for filmmaker, subjects and audience to dig deep into the world of bias, namely as it relates to gender. During the more than five years of making the film, the nation has become more polarized than ever, but also took a few steps closer to reckoning with some of our society’s deepest wounds and injustices with ME TOO and more recently, BLACK LIVES MATTER movement. But, now, with Kamala Harris, a woman of color (and former debater) as our Vice President, it is time to seize this opportunity to engender frank and honest discussions about what more can be done to challenge ourselves as well as a culture that creates and perpetuates bias and divisions.