For Filmmakers

At Athena, we are committed to transforming the way the film industry values and views women both on-screen and behind the camera. We are committed to challenging traditional Hollywood cultural conventions, by educating and empowering women storytellers and filmmakers.

The Athena Film Festival celebrates extraordinary films from across the globe that tell the stories of fierce and fearless women leaders. The curated program includes Academy Award nominated films, award winning features and documentaries, NY premieres, shorts and so much more.

The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College offers a variety of different educational and skill-building programs and events for filmmakers and women in the industry:

For Filmmakers 

We look for short film submissions that are under 40 minutes in length that. An Athena film is one of defiance, survival, breakthrough and radical joy that comes from living as yourself. There are many ways to be a leader and there are even more ways to be a leader as a woman. Leadership was defined, and continues to be defined by men. Athena Films challenge that narrative and show how women work within and without this traditional definition to change what leadership looks like.

If you have a feature-length film that you would like to submit to the festival, please email with the title of your film, a full synopsis, and how it fits our criteria.

Master classes for filmmakers taught by well-known women writers, producers, and directors. Previous classes have been taught by  Academy-Award winner Callie Khouri screenwriter of Thelma and Louise; Tony-winning composer Jeanine Tesori of Fun Home; Directors Gina Price-Bythewood (Shots Fired, Love & Basketball), Karyn Kusama, (The Invitation, Girl Fight); and  Former President of HBO Documentary Films and President of MTV Docs Sheila Nevins.

For Documentary Filmmakers 

As part of our Parity Pipeline Program to support women filmmakers, The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College conducts a Works In Progress program for women documentarians. Several of the films that have participated in the program have been completed including Trapped, 93 Queen, and Radical Grace among many others.

The desire is for the filmmakers to come out of the program with a strongly developed pitch along with additional materials.

For Writers 

The Athena List is an annual script competition that selects exceptional scripts with women leaders at the heart of the story. As the central program in the Athena Film Festival’s Parity Pipeline program, The Athena List’s goal is to raise the profile of the scripts and the writers within the industry with the purpose of getting these movies made and elevating their careers to the next level.

Athena Writer’s Lab. Currently, the Athena Film Festival hosts two labs for screenwriters—one in NYC and one in LA—providing women storytellers with training, skills and a valuable, supportive network. Partnering with WIST, we hold a two-day screenwriting lab for women writers in NYC during our annual Athena Film Festival. The NYC lab is structured to provide participants with multiple one-on-one mentoring sessions with experienced screenwriters and opportunities for peer-to-peer feedback.

In 2018, we launched a  lab for screenwriters and television writers in Los Angeles. Partnering with WIST and the Stephens College Masters of Fine Arts in Television and Screenwriting, the three-day program focuses on emerging women writers in both television and film. The lab includes one-on-one mentoring sessions pairing participants with established screenwriters, a mock television writer’s room, and opportunities for peer-to-peer feedback. One day was devoted to film and another to TV, with an industry day in between, at which participants learned about the business of making films, including meetings with managers, showrunners and producers.