Festival Info

The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College is a weekend of inspiring films that tell the extraordinary stories of strong, bold women leaders from all walks of life – stories of ambition, courage, resilience, and moxie. The curated program includes Academy Award-nominated films, top-tier features, documentaries, and shorts — including U.S. and world premieres. It is a weekend that celebrates the stories of remarkable women — stories that need to be told and deserve to be honored.

The festival is a project of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard and Women and Hollywood, a leading voice for women in the entertainment industry.  The Artemis Rising Foundation and its CEO Regina K. Scully is the festival’s founding sponsor.  The eighth annual Athena Film Festival will be held Feb. 22-25, 2018.



Inspiring Award Winners:

The Awards Reception on Friday night was at full capacity with an engaged and enthusiastic audience. We were particularly thrilled to present an Athena Award to our Festival’s Founding Sponsor, Regina K. Scully, as well as director Patricia Riggen and activist-playwright Eve Ensler.  The 2017 Leading Man Award went to David Oyelowo for his work championing female directors.  Each of these awardees has an impressive track record of championing the fight for women in Hollywood; we were honored to recognize their voices and work.

At the Reception, we also announced the winners of the Athena List, an annual slate of screenplays with strong female protagonists that have not yet gone into production. Sponsored by Amazon Studios, who agreed to read all the scripts and host the writers for a symposium in June, the winners were Claude by Hannah Patterson, Clemency by Chinonye Chukwe, Mrs. Christie by Jamie Dawson and Scott by Anna Rose Moore.


Great Movies:
The Festival opened on Thursday night with a screening of 2015 Athena List finalist Little Pink House, a feature film starring Catherine Keener that is based on the true story of Susette Kelo, a small-town nurse who emerges as the reluctant leader of her working-class neighbors struggling to preserve their homes. This moving film was followed by a Q&A with the director and writer, Courtney Moorehead Balaker, and Susette Kelo.

We screened 34 films including 15 features, 13 documentaries, and 19 shorts, which received great reviews from packed audiences. Many of the screenings included Q&A sessions with filmmakers or the subjects of the films.

On Saturday night, the Festival added a last-minute free screening of Hidden Figures, the incredible untold story of brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who were the brains behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.

Sunday evening, we hosted an inspiring and lively Town Hall discussion on how to build a new movement for social change with activists extraordinaire Gloria Steinem and Dolores Huerta, leaders from the Women’s March on Washington, Paola Mendoza and Carmen Perez, Jamia Wilson from Women, Action and the Media, and Barnard students, Camilla Puig Ibarra and Naomi Tewardos. A screening of the inspirational closing film, Dolores, followed the panel.


Panels, Workshops, and Guests:

This year we held four panels, two workshops, a master class led by Athena Award winner Patricia Riggen, and special events featuring virtual reality, a television preview, works-in-progress, and a demonstration of camera equipment.

The Festival included a number of other fabulous events including a Screenwriting Lab for female screenwriters conducted in partnership with the IRIS, a raucous volunteers appreciation evening full of karaoke on Saturday night, and our student lunch with over 100 students from high schools and colleges across the region.

Thank you so much for being a part of the 2017 Athena Film Festival. It was great to see so many of you at the various screenings, panels, and workshops last week. I am sure you will agree that this Festival was our best yet.  We were thrilled that nearly 6,000 people attended the Festival; a 20% increase from last year.

A special thank you to our Sponsors, Honorary Host Committee, Festival Co-Chairs, Friends of the Festival, and partnering organizations. Our work and this festival would not be possible without your generous support. To our Founding Sponsor, the Artemis Rising Foundation, and Regina K. Scully, Founder and CEO, please know how appreciative we are for all that you do.

Thank you again for your support of our mission and our Festival. We received some great coverage over the weekend; here are just a few of the articles: The Hollywood Reporter, and Vanity Fair.