FESTIVAL TO OPEN WITH BATTLE OF THE SEXES, AND CLOSE WITH THE POST,
MANKILLER IS CENTERPIECE FILM, SPECIAL OPENING DAY PRESENTATION OF ‘UNREAL’ SEASON THREE
Guests to Include Shiri Appleby, Gale Anne Hurd, Billie Jean King, Valerie Red-Horse Mohl,
Stacy Rukeyser, Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and Gloria Steinem
Barnard College’s 8th annual festival takes place from February 22 – 25, 2018
New York, NY (February 8, 2018) – Barnard College’s Athena Film Festival (AFF) announced today its opening night, centerpiece, and closing night films, a special television presentation, and additional programming for the 2018 festival. The Athena Film Festival showcases films and TV series about strong, bold women leaders in real life and the fictional world; it is a weekend dedicated to elevating female voices and stories that inspire and empower a new generation of filmmakers and individuals. The eighth annual festival, co-founded by Barnard College’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies and Women and Hollywood, will take place February 22-25, 2018, at Barnard College in New York City.
The festival will open their 2018 edition on Thursday, February 22nd with BATTLE OF THE SEXES, directed by Jonathan Dayton P’15 and Valerie Faris P’15. Emma Stone and Steve Carell star in this dramatic retelling of the legendary 1973 tennis match in which tennis star Billie Jean King faced off against 55-year-old former Wimbledon champion, Bobby Riggs who boasted that he could beat any woman player. Billie Jean King will participate in a post-screening conversation.
Prior to opening night, the festival will host a special presentation premiering the first episode of Season three of Lifetime’s critically-acclaimed series UnREAL. The screening will be followed by a conversation with cast member Shiri Appleby, showrunner and executive producer, Stacy Rukeyser, and co-creator and executive producer Sarah Gertrude Shapiro. Season three of UnREAL, which will premiere on Monday, February 26th has an impressive roster of female directors, with Appleby returning and Constance Zimmer making her directorial debut.
The Centerpiece film, documentary MANKILLER, directed by Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, will screen on Saturday, February 24th. The documentary tells the tale of a true American legend, Wilma Mankiller (1945-2010), a community organizer who became Chief of the Cherokee Nation and defied all odds to make a difference for her people. The film will be followed by a conversation with director Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, and journalist and activist Gloria Steinem. Ann Hornaday from the Washington Post will moderate.
The festival will close on Sunday, February 25th with the Academy Award®-nominated THE POST, directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. In this thrilling drama, the Washington Post’s Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper (Meryl Streep) and Post editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) race to catch up with The New York Times’ publication of the Pentagon Papers, which expose a massive cover-up of government secrets about the Vietnam war.
“We are proud to announce our stellar opening night, centerpiece, and closing night films in addition to our special television presentation for the 2018 Athena Film Festival,” said Melissa Silverstein, co-founder and Artistic Director of the Festival and founder of Women and Hollywood. “Our current lineup showcases the diverse and exceptional work of women in the industry both in front of the camera and behind it.”
“We couldn’t be more thrilled about our lineup of inspiring and diverse films this year,” said Kathryn Kolbert, co-founder of the Festival and Constance Hess Williams ’66 Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College. “We look for films that continue the conversation of inclusion and equality, and feel that our newly announced films accomplish just that.”
Additional films announced include 9 TO 5, directed by Colin Higgins and starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin; PATTI CAKE$, directed by Geremy Jasper and starring Athena’s 2018 Inaugural Breakthrough Award honoree Bridget Everett and Danielle Macdonald ; THELMA, directed and co-written by Joachim Trier and co-written by Eskil Vogt; NORTH COUNTRY, directed by Niki Caro and starring Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Jeremy Renner, Woody Harrelson and Sissy Spacek; and the classic documentary MISS SHARON JONES!, directed by two-time Oscar® winner and 2018 Athena Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree, Barbara Kopple.
Additional panels announced today include Master Class: Alexa Junge ’85 and Spotlight on Women and STEM, sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which will follow the screening of Bombshell, the Hedy Lamarr Story. This panel of illustrious filmmakers will focus on the stories of powerful women in STEM fields and discuss the challenges of bringing these rich, and sometimes complicated scientific stories to life on the big screen.
As previously announced, the festival will feature a program of narrative, documentary and short films, including: WONDER WOMAN, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot; LADY BIRD, the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig ’06 and AFF ’11 Honoree and starring Saoirse Ronan; MEGAN LEAVEY, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite and starring Kate Mara; WAITING FOR HASSANA, directed by Ifunanya Maduka; BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY, directed and written by Alexandra Dean; I AM EVIDENCE, directed by Trish Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir and produced by Mariska Hargitay; the New York City premiere of IT’S CRIMINAL, directed by Signe Taylor ’87; and the international premiere of MY YEAR WITH HELEN, directed by Gaylene Preston; FRONTIER, directed by Jillian Banner; and the New York premieres of AL IMAM, directed by Omar Al Dakheel; BEADS, directed by Rachel Byrd; CON MADRE, directed by Clancy McCarty; THE FAN directed by Mohammad Ghanefard and Ali Delkari, among others.
The 2018 Athena Film Festival Awardees include two-time Academy Award®-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple who will receive the Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award; BAFTA-winning writer and director Amma Asante who will receive the Athena Award; world-renowned cabaret artist and actress Bridget Everett who will receive the inaugural Breakthrough Award; and director, producer and screenwriter J.J. Abrams who will receive the Athena Leading Man Award. Awards will be presented at the Athena Film Festival Awards Ceremony on Friday, February 23rd.
The 2018 festival co-chairs include Ava DuVernay, Julie Parker Benello ‘92, Debra Martin Chase, Geralyn Dreyfous, Paul Feig, Sherry Lansing, Jon Levin, P’13, Dylan McDermott P’18, Sheila Nevins ’60, David Oyelowo, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Susan Rovner ’91, Regina K. Scully, and Rachel Weisz.
Tickets and passes are now on sale. Please visit http://www.athenafilmfestival.com for regular updates and more information.
FULL INFORMATION ON NEWLY ANNOUNCED FILMS AND PROGRAMS:
9 to 5
Director: Colin Higgins
Writer: Colin Higgins, Patricia Resnick
This office satire about three female secretaries—Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin—who decide to get revenge on their tyrannical, sexist boss was an instant classic. Featuring a depiction of women agitators well ahead of their time and a score that doubled as anthem, 9 to 5’s impact has resonated for the thirty-plus years since its release and remains iconic in 2017’s #MeToo era.
Director: Niki Caro
Writer: Michael Seitzman
This classic feature, based on a true story, centers on Josey Aimes who takes a job at a local iron mine in Minnesota in 1975. She and other female miners endure unyielding harassment from male co-workers, ranging from verbal taunts to pornographic graffiti and physical abuse. Ignoring advice from family and friends, Josey files a ground-breaking lawsuit and wins a landmark decision that is still protecting women today. Directed by Niki Caro, North Country’s all-star cast includes Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Jeremy Renner, Woody Harrelson and Sissy Spacek.
Battle of the Sexes – OPENING NIGHT FILM
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Emma Stone and Steve Carell star in this dramatic retelling of the legendary 1973 tennis match in which women’s tennis star Billie Jean King faced off against 55-year-old former Wimbledon champion, Bobby Riggs who boasted that he could beat any woman player. Riggs hyped the contest with a slew of misogynistic comments, including that “the best way to handle women is to keep them pregnant and barefoot.” In the period leading up to the match, King, a champion athlete and social justice pioneer, found herself beset with both personal and professional challenges as she sought to face her sexuality and fight for pay equity in tennis.
Patti Cake$ – Awardee Spotlight Film
Director and writer: Geremy Jasper
First-time writer/director Geremy Jasper showcases his music chops in this brash and bombastic story of unlikely rapper Patti “Killa P” Dombrowski. Breakout talent Danielle Macdonald plays Patti with the magnetism and stage presence of a seasoned musician, and is matched by the talents of the 2018 Athena Award winner Bridget Everett as Patti’s disillusioned mother, who missed her chance at stardom.
Director: Joachim Trier
Writers: Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt
Writer/director Joachim Trier crafts a haunting tale of Thelma (Eili Harboe) a shy college student who has just left her religious family in a small town Norway and finds herself intensely drawn to her classmate Anja (Kaya Wilkins). But in a surprising twist to this coming of age tale, first love and self-discovery arrive with uncontrollable seizures and supernatural powers, that forces her to confront the terrifying implications of her powers.
The Post – CLOSING NIGHT FILM
In this thrilling drama directed by Steven Spielberg, the Washington Post’s Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper (Meryl Streep) and Post editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) race to catch up with The New York Times’ publication of the Pentagon Papers, which expose a massive cover-up of government secrets about the Vietnam war that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. This movie shows the importance of the free press to the life of a democracy, but it’s also a very personal story about a woman who was trained to be a wife who becomes the main character in her own story. The Post is a movie about a woman who finds her voice and saves democracy in the process.
MANKILLER – CENTERPIECE FILM
Director: Valerie Red-Horse Mohl
Executive Producer: Gale Anne Hurd
MANKILLER examines the legacy of the formidable Wilma Mankiller, who defied all odds to become one of the most influential leaders in the United States. Mankiller overcame rampant sexism and personal challenges to emerge as the Cherokee Nation’s first woman Principal Chief in 1985. Through rare archival footage and intimate interviews with activists including Gloria Steinem, as well as with Wilma herself, MANKILLER gives us insight into how this remarkable woman successfully navigated through the minefield of bipartisan politics.
Miss Sharon Jones! – Awardee Spotlight Film
Director: Barbara Kopple
This documentary, directed by the two-time Oscar winner and 2018 Athena Honoree, Barbara Kopple, tells the stirring story of Sharon Jones, a true soul survivor who’s been called “the female James Brown”. The film follows Sharon Jones on an emotional journey as she battles cancer, struggles to keep her band together and mount a comeback show at New York’s Beacon Theater.
Join us for the premiere of the first episode of UnREAL, season 3, Lifetime’s critically-acclaimed series from A+E Studios. UnREAL takes place behind the scenes of the fictional dating competition show Everlasting, as the show’s producers manipulate the contestants to get the footage they need. Caitlin FitzGerald (“Masters of Sex,” “Rectify”) takes the reins in Season 3 as Everlasting’s female “suit
PANELS AND SPECIAL EVENTS
Master Class on Producing and Writing for Television: Alexa Junge – Sponsored by Stephens College
Come learn from Alexa Junge, a 1985 Barnard alumna, and accomplished showrunner, screenwriter, T.V. writer and producer whose credits include Friends, The West Wing, and Grace & Frankie.
Spotlight on Women and Stem – Sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Following the screening of Bombshell, the Hedy Lamarr Story, a panel of illustrious filmmakers will focus on the stories of powerful women in STEM fields, and discuss the challenges of bringing these rich, and sometimes complicated scientific stories to life on the big screen.
ABOUT THE ATHENA FILM FESTIVAL
Now in its eighth year, The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College is a weekend of inspiring films that tell the extraordinary stories of strong, bold women leaders from all walks of life – stories of ambition, courage, resilience, and moxie. The curated program includes Academy Award-nominated films, top-tier features, documentaries, and shorts — including U.S. and world premieres as well as conversations with directors, producers and actors, and activities for filmmakers. The four-day festival, celebrates the stories of remarkable women — stories that need to be told and deserve to be honored. The festival also includes the annual selection of the Athena List, a slate of 3-5 screenplays with female leaders or strong female protagonists that have yet to be made into films. The Founding Sponsor of the Athena Film Festival is The Artemis Rising Foundation, Regina K. Scully, Founder and CEO.
ABOUT THE ATHENA CENTER FOR LEADERSHIP STUDIES AT BARNARD COLLEGE
Established at Barnard College in 2009, the Athena Center for Leadership Studies is a catalyst for the education, development and advancement of inspired and courageous women leaders worldwide. Renowned civil rights attorney, Kathryn Kolbert, is the Center’s Constance Hess Williams Director.
ABOUT WOMEN AND HOLLYWOOD
Women and Hollywood educates, advocates, and agitates for gender parity across the entertainment industry. Women and Hollywood celebrated ten years in 2017, and in that time, it has grown to be one of the most respected sites focused on women’s issues and popular culture, and its founder, Melissa Silverstein, has become a well-respected leader on the subject.
ABOUT BARNARD COLLEGE
The idea was bold for its time. Founded in 1889, Barnard was the only college in New York City, and one of the few in the nation, where women could receive the same rigorous and challenging education available to men. Today, as the world-renowned liberal arts college for women at Columbia University, Barnard remains devoted to empowering extraordinary women to become even more exceptional.
ABOUT ARTEMIS RISING FOUNDATION
Artemis Rising Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to developing and promoting media, education and the arts that transform our culture. Regina K. Scully is its founder and CEO.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.
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ATHENA FILM FESTIVAL
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