NEW YORK (February 7, 2019) – The Athena Film Festival announced today its 2019 awardees, celebrating women leaders in the entertainment industry and those who support them. The festival will honor Nina Shaw, one of the founding members of Time’s Up, with an Athena Award. Writer, director, and actress Desiree Akhavan will be honored with the Breakthrough Award. Cameron Bailey, co-head of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), will receive the Leading Man Award. The ninth annual festival, co-founded by the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College and Women and Hollywood, will take place February 28 to March 3, 2019, at Barnard College in New York City.

The Athena Film Festival celebrates the leadership and creative accomplishments of trailblazers in the entertainment industry. The festival showcases films that tell the extraordinary stories of fierce and fearless women leaders from all walks of life. Stories of ambition, courage, and resilience amplify the voices and stories of strong, bold women, curating a public discourse on gender equality, and changing the cultural conventions surrounding leadership.

“We are proud to announce our 2019 Athena Film Festival honorees, who continue to push the gender equality and inclusion conversation forward, both in front of and behind the camera,” said Kathryn Kolbert, co-founder and producing director of the Athena Film Festival. “We value the work of each of our honorees and look forward to highlighting their accomplishments at the festival.”

“Now more than ever, it is crucial that we continue to recognize the voices and visions of women in this industry,” said Melissa Silverstein, co-founder and artistic director of the Athena Film Festival and founder of Women and Hollywood. “The Athena Film Festival is proud to honor these champions and give them a platform to continue the dialogue about this important moment in the industry.”

Nina Shaw, a graduate of Barnard College ’76 and Columbia University Law School ’79, is a founding partner at Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano law firm. She has worked in the industry as a talent attorney for over 40 years with a focus on television, motion picture, and live stage areas. She received the Women in Film Crystal Award in 2005, has appeared on The Hollywood Reporter’s “Women in Entertainment Power 100” list multiple times, and was given Essence Magazine’s Black Women in Hollywood Power Award in 2016. A long-standing advocate for women’s empowerment and young girls’ education, Nina is one of the founding members of Time’s Up.

Cameron Bailey was recently named the co-head of the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) after working as its artistic director since 2012. A former film critic, Bailey has always had an appreciation for diversity and equality in film. He joined the festival in 1990 as a programmer before becoming the festival’s co-director and later its artistic director. During his tenure, TIFF has brought many women filmmakers into the international spotlight.

Desiree Akhavan is an actress, writer, and director. She wrote, directed, and starred in her theatrical debut, “Appropriate Behavior,” which was nominated for Best First Screenplay at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards. She also writes, directs, and stars in her series, “The Bisexual,” currently airing on Hulu. Her critically acclaimed film, “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” which she directed and wrote, and stars Chloë Grace Moretz, won the Grand Jury prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival; the film has gained praise as a timely coming-of-age story for queer youth in America.

Previous Athena Film Festival awardees include Amma Asante; Ava DuVernay; Eve Ensler; Greta Gerwig ’06; Diablo Cody; Kasi Lemmons; Karyn Kusama; Debra Martin Chase; Dee Rees; Nekisa Cooper; Patricia Riggen; Callie Khouri; Gina Prince-Bythewood; and Julie Taymor. Previous Leading Man awardees include Paul Feig, David Oyelowo, and J.J. Abrams P’22. Last year, Bridget Everett was honored as the Inaugural Athena Breakthrough Award winner.

The 2019 festival co-chairs include J.J. Abrams P’22, Julie Parker Benello ’92, Debra Martin Chase, Geralyn Dreyfous, Ava DuVernay, Paul Feig, Greta Gerwig ’06, Sherry Lansing, Jon Levin P’13, Katie McGrath P’22, Pat Mitchell, Sheila Nevins ’60, David Oyelowo, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Susan Rovner ’91, Regina K. Scully and Rachel Weisz.

Tickets and passes are now on sale. Visit the Athena Film Festival’s website for regular updates, announcements, and to purchase passes.



The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College, is a weekend of inspiring films that tell the extraordinary stories of fierce and fearless female leaders from all walks of life – stories of ambition, courage, and resilience. We amplify 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.

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.

Women and Hollywood educates, advocates, and agitates for gender parity across the entertainment industry. Over the last 11 years, 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.

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.


The Athena Film Festival is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

# # #

FRANK PR | (646) 861-0843
Stephanie Davidson |
Emily Maroon |
Danielle Desser |