Now in its seventh year, the Athena Film Festival — a celebration of women and leadership — is an engaging weekend of feature films, documentaries and shorts that highlight women’s leadership in real life and the fictional world. The four-day festival, which includes conversations with directors and talent and workshops for filmmakers, has quickly established itself as one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind.
The festival will be held Feb. 9 – 12, 2017 in the heart of New York — at Barnard, the most sought-after women’s college in the nation. The Founding Sponsor of the Festival is Artemis Rising Foundation, Regina K. Scully, CEO and Founder.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2016 FESTIVAL
Inspiring Award Winners:
The Friday Night Awards Gala was filled to capacity with an engaged and happy crowd. We were particularly thrilled that Mira Nair was able to accept the Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award and give us a sneak peek of her new film, Queen of Katwe. Athena Awards also were presented to director Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body, Aeon Flux), producer Geralyn Dreyfus (The Invisible War, Born into Brothels) and composer Jeanine Tesori ’83 (Fun Home, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Violet), all of whom shared beautiful, heartfelt tributes to women who inspired them and made a difference in their
At the Gala, we also announced the winners of the Athena List, an annual slate of screenplays with strong female protagonists that are ready to be made into films. The winners this year were A Noble Affair by Anil Baral and Kathryn Maughan, In the Land of Fire and Ice by David MacGregor, Ride the Wind by Denise Myers, and Virginia by Bess Wohl. This article in Entertainment Weekly discusses the importance of the Athena List and highlights the winning scripts.
One of the standout moments of the Festival was on Saturday afternoon when Kate McKinnon from Saturday Night Live presented the inaugural Athena Leading Man award to director Paul Feig. The Columbia Marching Band started the program by playing the theme from Ghostbusters and both Paul and Kate joined Belinda Luscombe from Time Magazine for a discussion of their work.
Later that evening, Barnard President Debora Spar presented the Athena Ensemble Award to the cast and crew of Suffragette. Sarah Gavron, the director of the film, came in from London to accept the award and join the audience for a Q&A.
On Thursday evening February 18, the Festival opened with the screening of Trapped, a documentary about abortion clinics in the south fighting for their survival. This moving film was followed by a panel with the director and writer, Dawn Porter, abortion clinic owner, Renee Chelian and Kathryn Kolbert, and moderated by MSNBC’s Irin Carmon.
Over the weekend, we screened 34 films including 10 features, 12 documentaries, and 12 shorts, which received great reviews from our packed audiences. Many of the screenings included Q&A sessions with filmmakers or the subjects of the films. For example, co-director Andrea Meller joined us for a Q&A about her film, Now En Español, director Jessica Edwards came to talk about her film Mavis! and the subject of Right Footed, Jessica Cox, joined us by Skype from Manila to discuss her work.
We closed on Sunday with Codegirl, a heartfelt documentary following high school girls from around the world dreaming of breaking into the world’s fastest-growing yet overwhelmingly male industry as they competed in the Technovation Challenge for an international app development competition. The film and festival ended with an engaging panel of female coders, as they encouraged, inspired, and engaged with up-and-coming female coders of all ages.
Panels, Workshops, and Guests:
This year, we held four amazing master classes, seven panels and eight special events, including a Mini Lab for female screenwriters conducted in partnership with the Black List, a raucous karaoke sing-a-long on Saturday night, and our student lunch with delegations of both male and female cadets from West Point, and students from Princeton, Berklee School of Music, and 3 local high schools among others.
Although we do not yet have final tallies, we know that we reached an all-time high with attendance breaking 5,000 and we sold many more All-Access passes than in prior years. We topped 45 partnering organizations and 200+ volunteers.
Lastly, we can’t say enough about the extensive media coverage we received. We were featured in numerous stories and photographs in print and online. Everyone from Entertainment Weekly to People, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, NY1 News and more helped us publicize the festival.