Festival returns to Barnard College 

February 9 – February 12, 2012 

Festival Co-Chairs: Debra Martin Chase, Jennifer Christman, 

Diablo Cody and Mira Nair 

Ford Foundation JustFilms joins as a Festival Sponsor

New York, NY – Barnard College’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies, along with Women and Hollywood, announce that the 2nd annual Athena Film Festival, “A Celebration of Women and Leadership,” is set for February 9-12, 2012 on Barnard’s campus in Morningside Heights.  The Festival will highlight the diversity of women’s leadership in both real life and the fictional world, illuminating the stories of women from across the globe who have made a difference in their countries and communities.  The goal is to expand on last year’s robust dialogue about women and leadership—what it takes to excel, collaborate, lead, and inspire—and to celebrate the vision, courage, and resilience that women leaders share.

The 2nd annual Athena Film Festival is proud to announce this year’s Co-Chairs: Debra Martin Chase, President and CEO of Martin Chase Productions, Academy Award® nominated motion picture producer (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Princess Diaries and the upcoming Sparkle) and Emmy Award® nominated television producer; Jennifer Christman, a Barnard alumna and Executive Director of The Picture House; Diablo Cody, Academy Award® winner for Best Original Screenplay (Juno) and making her directorial debut with Lamb of God; and Mira Nair, Academy Award® nominated and Emmy winning Director whose credits include Salaam Bombay!, Monsoon Wedding and Vanity Fair. These incredibly talented women continue to pave the road for women in the entertainment industry.

“Not only is it critically important to support women in the arts, but also to highlight the accomplishments of women from all walks of life and from around the world.  The Athena Film Festival is a wonderful forum where women’s voices can be heard and amplified,” said Debra Martin Chase.

“I am thrilled to be part of a festival that encourages women to use their talents to tell compelling stories of women and to support each other as they face the many obstacles of getting their work made into successful films.” said Diablo Cody.  “The Athena Film Festival brings to the forefront the many issues women face today and celebrates the courageous women who help make a difference.”

JustFilms, a Ford Foundation initiative, is building on 75 years of support for the arts by coming on board as a Festival sponsor. JustFilms supports works that educate, motivate and create positive change in people’s lives by conveying stories that have the power to transform how we think and act.

“We are very excited to once again highlight the diversity of women’s leadership across the globe,” said Kathryn Kolbert, Co-Founder of the Festival and Constance Hess Williams Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College.  “We are thrilled to bring to New York audiences powerful films about women leaders, and have the opportunity to create a much needed conversation about the important issues raised by these films.”

“We are incredibly grateful for the support we’ve received this year from our remarkable Co-Chairs, Honorary Host Committee and the Ford Foundation,” said Melissa Silverstein, co-founder and Artistic Director of the Festival and head of Women and Hollywood, an online leader in the conversation about women’s roles in the film industry.  “We can’t wait to share the line-up of films and special events that focus on inspiring stories of women leaders and that will build on the success of last year’s inaugural Festival.”

The line-up of films, as well as the names of Athena Award winners, will be released in the coming months.  All access passes will be available in mid-December.  Please visit for regular updates and to purchase passes.


Barnard College’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies is a premier interdisciplinary center devoted to the theory and practice of women’s leadership.  Renowned civil rights attorney, Kathryn Kolbert, is the Center’s Constance Hess Williams Director.  For more information, visit:


Women and Hollywood operates at the intersection of feminism and entertainment.  Since its inception in 2007, 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 commentator on the subject.  For more information, visit:


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, Barnard is the most sought-after college for women and remains dedicated to the education of strong, independent-minded women who change the world and the way we think about it.  For more information, visit:


The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For 75 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

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