By Athena Film Festival blogger Carrie Nelson

Athena Film Festival’s Artistic Director Melissa Silverstein and Film Director Lisa Gossels speak with the audience after the screening. Courtesy of the United States Mission to the United Nations.

As you prepare for your visit to the 3rd annual Athena Film Festival, please join us in revisiting four short films that screened as works-in-progress during last year’s festival.

Now complete, the films are part of Athena Global Shorts, a DVD compilation created in partnership with UN Women. Last month, the finished series premiered at a screening at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Though diverse in content and style, all of the films featured share a commitment to empowering women as storytellers and creators of their own narratives. As Donna Ann Welton, Deputy Director of Communications & Public Diplomacy for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, stated in her opening remarks before last month’s premiere, “As my boss Hillary [Clinton, former Secretary of State] says, it is important that women help each other…We need to keep each other’s stories.”

The four films in the Athena Global Shorts collection are directed by women and share the stories of women in Israel (Tasnim, directed by Elite Zexer), Mexico (Frente Noreste, directed by Angela Torres Camarena), Kenya (Umoja: No Men Allowed, directed by Elizabeth Tadic), and the United States (The Director, directed by Destri Martino). Though tailored to the realities of the regions in which they were produced, the films explore a variety of universal themes, including the importance of family, the challenges presented by cultural traditions, the necessity of women-only spaces as a response to violence, the fight to protect one’s children from danger, and the struggle for gender equality in the workplace. Though created through women’s voices and lenses, the films are accessible to diverse audiences, regardless of gender or cultural background. As the narrator in The Director aptly declares “I can direct even if I look and sound like a woman.” The Athena Global Shorts reaffirm the notion that women-directed films have a unique ability to share women’s stories and are produced with the same quality and care found in the best films directed by men.

The Athena Global Shorts collection will be distributed as an educational resource, furthering the mission of celebrating the power, audacity, and creativity of women from around the world. Contact the Festival for further information about ordering the films for screenings in your community.

Carrie Nelson is a writer and filmmaker, committed to using media to advocate for social justice. Follow her work at