Grant To Support Aspiring Women and Non-Binary Filmmakers

NEW YORK (July 19, 2022) As part of its mission to empower and support women and non-binary filmmakers, The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College (AFF), a joint program of Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership and the initiative Women and Hollywood, announced today a new grant with Disney Studios Content to fund the Disney Athena List Development Grant. 

This award is the newest addition to AFF’s Creative Development Program, which awards more than $50,000 to underrepresented filmmakers every year. In addition to direct funding opportunities, AFF’s Creative Development Program provides women and non-binary storytellers with opportunities to hone their craft and make meaningful connections that help them succeed and advance their projects.

Through social investments and collaborations like these, Disney is increasing access to careers in storytelling and innovation for those who have been historically underrepresented. From arts and STEM programs for school-age children to scholarships, storytelling and technical skills-building programs for teens and young adults, Disney is helping today’s youth to pursue their dreams, build their talents and skills, and become who they imagine they can be.

Launching in time for the 2023 Athena Film Festival, the Disney Athena List Development Grant will be awarded to a writer/director of a project that is a winner or finalist of the Athena List. To be eligible for this grant, the writer/director must be an emerging feature filmmaker who identifies as a woman or as non-binary and is from a traditionally underrepresented community in film. Examples of underrepresented communities include but are not limited to people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, older women filmmakers, filmmakers in their second or third career, and others.

“This is an exciting new addition to AFF’s existing development grants, which includes the Breakthrough Award sponsored by Netflix, the Chinonye Chukwu Emerging Writer Award sponsored by Christine A. Schantz, and the Alfred P. Sloan Athena List Development Grant. We are thrilled to continue awarding funds to filmmakers who have traditionally been excluded from industry opportunities and who are working on projects centering women’s leadership,” said Melissa Silverstein, co-founder and Artistic Director of AFF and founder of Women and Hollywood.

“For Disney Studios Content, this grant builds on our commitment to bolstering representation in front of and behind the camera,” said Mahin Ibrahim, Director of Representation & Inclusion, Creative Talent Pathways. “We are excited to work with AFF to amplify storytelling from women and non-binary writer/directors.”

Submissions for the Athena List are now open! To learn more and submit your script, visit The winner will be selected by February 15, 2023 and will be announced at the 2023 Athena Film Festival (March 2 – 5, 2023).



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.

For over 95 years, Disney Studios Content has been the foundation on which The Walt Disney Company was built. Today it brings quality movies, episodic storytelling, and stage plays to consumers throughout the world. Disney Studios Content encompasses a collection of respected film studios, including Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, and Searchlight Pictures. It is also home to Disney Theatrical Group, producer of world-class stage shows.

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. The Artemis Rising Foundation is the founding sponsor of the Athena Film Festival.