Works-In-Progress Program

As part of our Parity Pipeline Program to support women filmmakers, The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College conducts a Works-in-Progress Program. It is an intensive pitch training and storytelling strengthening opportunity, that in addition to the training includes a live pitch in front of a panel of esteemed industry representatives, introductions to a network of potential supporters and partners, peer mentorship, and a cohort to grow with, all wrapped into a festival event. Each filmmaker works with Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, Judith Helfand who is the Program Facilitator as well as one another to advance their pitches, projects, and materials.

Last year our live pitch took place face to face, with a packed audience, building a network of support for our filmmakers on the spot. It was one of the last events to have that intimate privilege before the pandemic began. And, in spite of all the difficulties filmmakers have faced with the pandemic, the films from our 2020 cohort have had success and moved forward. Black Mothers by Débora Souza Silva was the top winner at Doclands pitch. Mama Gloria by Luchina Fisher was completed and recently premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival. Driver by Nesa Azimi is a IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund Grantee, and The Fire That Took Her by Patricia Gillespie is in the field shooting additional footage.

We will be hosting the program again for the 11th annual festival which will take place virtually throughout the month of March 2021. We look forward to another successful program this year, to creating a zoom that is as dynamic as that room last year.

2020 Works-in-Progress Filmmakers 

Black Mothers – Directed by Debora Souza Silva
Violence, Outrage, Impunity. Repeat. BLACK MOTHERS follows the journey of two women working to disrupt the cycle of racist police violence within our country’s judicial system. As one mother navigates the aftermath of her son’s attack by local officers, the other channels her grief into organizing other mothers to fight for concrete change and justice.

Driver – Directed by Nesa Azimi
DRIVER follows a dynamic community of women long-haul truck drivers. Threatened by routine sexual violence and bound by a system in which multibillion-dollar megacarriers and oppressive regulatory regimes conspire to leave the individual driver anonymous and disposable, one woman brings together a group of drivers to find strength, solidarity, and self-determination on the road.

Mama Gloria by Luchina Fisher
Before Janet Mock and Laverne Cox, there was Gloria Allen. MAMA GLORIA is an intimate portrait of aging about a trailblazing 74-year-old black transgender woman who transitioned before Stonewall, started a charm school for homeless trans youth, and is now looking for someone to spend the rest of her life with.

The Fire That Took Her by Patricia E. Gillespie
THE FIRE THAT TOOK HER chronicles the life and death of Judy Malinowski— the first woman to testify from beyond the grave, at the trial for her own murder. A story that lives at the intersection of true crime and #MeToo THE FIRE THAT TOOK HER goes deep inside a landmark case to ask a timely question: How much must women suffer in order to be believed?

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