Virtual Festival Opens March 1st with U.S. Premiere of Tracey Deer’s BEANS

Features a lineup of films, conversations, and programs that will run through March 31st

NEW YORK (February 4, 2021) The Athena Film Festival (AFF) at Barnard College announced its opening night film and lineup of programming for the 2021 festival today. The 11th annual festival, a joint partnership between Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership and the initiative Women and Hollywood, will take place virtually from March 1st through March 31st. The annual festival includes film screenings, in-depth conversations with filmmakers and industry experts, a series of programs that support the pipeline of women creatives, and a wide variety of events focused on celebrating and amplifying the stories of bold, courageous women leaders.

AFF will open with the U.S. premiere of “BEANS”. The film, directed by Tracey Deer, stars up-and-coming actor Kiawentiio as Beans, a twelve-year-old Mohawk Girl torn between innocent childhood and reckless adolescence as she grapples with her experiences of community, activism, and racism during the Indigenous uprising of 1990 known as The Oka Crisis.

This year, AFF has curated a selection of films that react and respond to this challenging moment in time, including: Making it Happen: Women in STEM; Tear it Down: Dismantling White Supremacy; Discovery; A Look At Health; Resilience through Uncertainty; Imagining a New Future; Nothing About Us Without Us and Come As You Are. Full descriptions on the program areas are available on the  AFF website.

Selections include the New York Premiere of Luchina Fisher’s loving documentary about trans icon Gloria Allen, “Mama Gloria”, Caru Alves de Souza’s riveting drama “My Name Is Baghdad,” Jessica Earnshaw’s deeply intimate “Jacinta”, Loira Limbal’s compassionate look at 24 hour child care in “Through The Night”, Shatara Mitchell’s emotionally gripping “Test Pattern”, Ashley O’Shay’s essential documentary, “Unapologetic” following Black women abolitionist activists in Chicago, Susan Sandler’s tender portrait of trans-comedian “Julia Scott: Funny The Way”, Yoruba Richen’s comprehensive examination of the intersections of Black women artists in “How It Feels to Be Free”, Sharron Shattuck and Ian Cheney’s eye-opening look at sexism in the sciences in “Picture A Scientist”, Shannon Kring’s powerful “End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock”, Stacey Lee’s “Underplayed” which is a riveting look on the gender imbalance of DJ’s in the music industry, as well as two fascinating portraits of incredible women in Sue Williams “Denise Ho Becoming the Song” and Raquel Cepeda’s “La Madrina: The (Savage) Life of Lorine Padilla”.

Shorts include the World Premiere of “La Indefinible” directed by Agustina Biasutto. This year’s edition also includes the U.S. Premieres of “Fine Particles” directed by Anne-Claire Jaulin, Inés Fernández’s “Freaks” and Dorothy Allen-Pickard’s “Material Bodies”. New York premieres include Leonor Zúniga’s “Exiled”, Kate Hackett’s “Oleander”, Esmé Creed-Miles’ “Jamie”, Maia Vota’s “Yellow Cards for Equal Pay“, Stephanie Sandoval’s “Immaculate”, Aisha Jamas’ “Neefso (Breathe)”, Dana Reilly’s “Ms Diva Trucker”, “Basta (Enough)” co-directed by Cecilia Albertini and Lesley Elizondo, Sharon Shattuck’s “The Scientists Versus Dartmouth”, Sophie Luo’s “Closing Annisa”, and Jessie Auritt and Jessica Wolfson’s “The Paint Wizzard”.

“While planning this year’s festival, we wanted to prioritize relevant and timely films that spoke to the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the myriad ways we’ve experienced our world shift this year. We were also focused on inclusion – building on our history of featuring new and diverse voices and challenging the status quo to lead the industry forward” said Melissa Silverstein, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of AFF and founder of Women and Hollywood. “I think we’ve done that. The films and conversations at this year’s festival will tackle complex, emotional, and diverse subjects with voices from across the industry. While this year’s festival will feel very different, I could not be more proud of the incredible slate of programming which is 90% women and nonbinary directors and 51% women and non binary directors of color that we will bring to our audiences across the United States for the 11th annual edition.”

The festival will also feature a number of films that will screen alongside conversations that address issues confronting our culture. These screenings and conversations will include Jacqueline Decker and Tim Mullen’s short documentary My Name is Ada Hegerberg” which will lead into a conversation around equal pay in sports titled “How Women Athletes Are Leading the Way on Gender Equality and Racial Justice”, the World Premiere of “The Third Strike” will screen in conjunction with a conversation on “The Push for Decarceration”, and following “What Would Sophia Loren Do” there will be a conversation between award-winning producer and Athena Film Festival Founding Sponsor Regina K. Scully and the subject of the film, her mother Nancy Kulik.

AFF will additionally hold an International Women’s Day Program on Monday, March 8th that will include a screening of Safyah Usmani and Saad Zuberi’s “A Life Too Short”, a powerful film examining

the tragedy behind the honor killing of Pakistani social media star, Qandeel Baloch. Additional conversations will focus on “Girls Rights and the Pandemic”, and“Women’s Leadership in the Covid Era.”

Industry related events include “Producing during/after COVID”, a Writers Roundtable, and in partnership with Stephen’s College, a “Master Class with Showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett”, the creator of “One Day at A Time”.

The 2021 festival sponsors include the founding sponsor, The Artemis Rising Foundation, and its founder Regina K. Scully, as well as The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Elizabeth Cuthrell, Dobkin Family Foundation, Hanky Panky, Secret Sauce Media, Christine A. Schantz, Walt Disney Studios, Netflix, Whitewater Films, Fork Films, JJ Abrams and Katie McGrath, Sheila Nevins, Warner Media, EMINUTES, FF2 Media, MTV Documentary Films, Stephens College, Adrienne Shelly Foundation, Wendy Ettinger, Joan Fallon, Ann Kaplan, Jenny Warburg, Lan Yang, Jacki Zehner, Cornelia Ravenal, and Gale Ann Hurd. The festival is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York Legislature, the City of New York Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment, and in part by an Award from The National Endowment For The Arts.

Passes and tickets are now on sale. Additional programming and 2021 honorees will be announced in the coming weeks. Visit the Athena Film Festival website for regular updates and more information.


The Athena Film Festival is dedicated to bringing together inspiring films that tell the extraordinary stories of fierce and fearless women leaders from all walks of life — stories of ambition, courage, and resilience. The festival amplifies the voices and stories of strong, bold women, curating a public discourse on gender equality and changing the cultural conventions surrounding leadership. As the only film festival specifically focused on women’s leadership, the Athena Film Festival provides a forum for dialogue about — and an opportunity to showcase — what it means to be a powerful woman today, inspiring women and girls in the process.

The Athena Center for Leadership at Barnard College is a catalyst for the education, development, and advancement of inspired and courageous women leaders.

Women and Hollywood educates, advocates, and agitates for gender parity across the entertainment industry. Over the last 14 years, it has grown to be one of the most respected initiatives focused on women’s issues and popular culture, and its founder, Melissa Silverstein, has become a well-respected leader on the subject.

Barnard provides a singular educational experience, as a world-renowned college focused on excellence across the arts and sciences, with all the academic resources of Columbia University and the City of New York as an extended classroom. Founded in 1889, Barnard was one of the few colleges in the nation where women could receive the same rigorous and challenging education available to men. Today, Barnard is one of the most selective academic institutions in the country and remains devoted to empowering extraordinary women to become even more exceptional.

Artemis Rising Foundation is dedicated to supporting projects that transform our culture through media, education, and the arts. Founder & CEO: Regina K. Scully.



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