Melissa Leo Dianna Agron
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Melissa Leo, Dianna Agron and “The Leftovers” actress Margaret Qualley will star in the coming-of-age drama “Novitiate,” Variety has learned.

The film, set in the early 1960s, tells the story of a young woman, Sister Cathleen (Qualley), who starts to question her Catholic faith as she trains to become a nun. Leo will portray the Reverend Mother and Agron will play another young nun in the convent.

The rest of the female-driven cast includes Julianne Nicholson (most recently seen in “Black Mass”), Stacy Martin (“Nymphomaniac”), Rebecca Dayan (“The Childhood of a Leader”), Morgan Saylor (“Homeland”) and Maddie Hasson (“I Saw the Light”).

Meanwhile Chris Zylka (“The Leftovers”) will play a character who appears in flashbacks.

“Novitiate” marks the feature directorial debut of Margaret Betts, who wrote the script in order to explore a story about the ways in which women love. Kat Westergaard will be the director of photography.

The film is produced by DeerJen’s Jen Gatien. “‘Novitiate’ is the female answer to male-bonding films like ‘Platoon’ or ‘The Hurt Locker,’” Gatien says. “More significantly, it stands as an extraordinary opportunity to challenge the prevalent norms in Hollywood by not only featuring an entirely female-leading cast but also a female writer/director, producer and DP.”

The project will start shooting in January in Nashville.

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