New York, NY (January 18, 2017) – The Athena Film Festival (AFF) announced today that writer/director Courtney Moorehead Balaker’s LITTLE PINK HOUSE will screen as the Opening Night film on Thursday, February 9th.  The film stars Catherine Keener and Jeanne Tripplehorn.  The Athena Film Festival showcases films about powerful and courageous 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 seventh annual festival, co-founded by the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College and Women and Hollywood, will take place February 9-12, 2017, at Barnard College in New York City.

Based on the true story of Susette Kelo, LITTLE PINK HOUSE tells the story of a nurse who emerges as a reluctant leader of her working-class neighbors in their struggle to save their homes from political and corporate interests.  Two-time Academy Award® nominee Catherine Keener plays the role of Kelo.  Following the screening there will be a Q&A with writer/director Courtney Moorehead Balaker and Susette Kelo.

Moorehead Balaker’s screenplay for LITTLE PINK HOUSE was a 2015 Athena List finalist.  The Athena List, sponsored by Amazon Studios, is a slate of screenplays with female leaders or strong female protagonists that have yet to be made into films. The 2017 list and finalists will be unveiled on February 10th at the Athena Film Festival.

“Bringing Susette’s story to the screen has been a passion of mine for years and I’m very honored by the Athena Film Festival’s invitation to open the festival. Susette just wanted to live in peace, but when faced with a choice between fighting or having her neighborhood bulldozed, she chose to fight the powerful bullies who were threatening her blue-collar community. Susette is a model of courage and defiance, and Catherine Keener’s outstanding performance perfectly embodies Susette’s spirit and drive.  I’m grateful to the Athena Film Festival for showcasing her story and for giving LITTLE PINK HOUSE the opportunity to come full circle from Athena List Finalist to opening night film,” said Courtney Moorehead Balaker.

“We strive to showcase inspiring films about audacious women from all walks of life,” said Kathryn Kolbert, co-founder of the Athena Film Festival and the Constance Hess Williams ‘66 Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College. “Opening the seventh annual Athena Film Festival with a true story about one woman’s passionate fight for justice is a perfect way to open the festival.”

“LITTLE PINK HOUSE highlights an incredible message of woman’s courage against all odds and standing up for what is right, which is especially important in today’s society,” said Melissa Silverstein, Athena Film Festival artistic director co-founder and and founder of Women and Hollywood. “This is the first film from the Athena List program to be made and the fact that it will open the festival is an enormous thrill for all of us.”

As previously announced the 2017 Athena Awardees are Eve Ensler, Patricia Riggen and Regina K. Scully and David Oyelowo, who will receive the Athena Leading Man Award.

Tickets and passes are now on sale. Please visit https://athenafilmfestival.com for regular updates and more information.


Full information on the announced film:

Writer / Director: Courtney Moorehead Balaker
Based on a true story, two-time Oscar® nominee Catherine Keener plays a small-town nurse Susette Kelo, who emerges as the reluctant leader of her working-class neighbors in their struggle to save their homes from political and corporate interests bent on seizing the land and handing it over to Pfizer Corporation. Susette’s battle goes all the way to the US Supreme Court and the controversial 5-4 decision in Kelo vs. City of New London gave government officials the power to bulldoze a neighborhood for the benefit of a multibillion-dollar corporation. The decision outraged Americans across the political spectrum, and that passion fueled reforms that helped curb eminent domain abuse.


Now in its seventh year, The Athena Film Festival is four days of inspiring films that honor courageous and audacious women in real life and the fictional world. The curated program includes features, documentaries, and shorts directed by both women and men. The festival also created the Athena List, an annual slate of 3-5 screenplays with female leaders or strong female protagonists that have yet to be made into films. The four-day festival, which includes conversations with directors, producers and actors, as well as activities for filmmakers, will be held February 9 – 12, 2017 in NYC at Barnard College. The Founding Sponsor of the Athena Film Festival is The Artemis Rising Foundation, Regina K. Scully, Founder and CEO.   


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.

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

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.


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.


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