Barbara Kopple to receive Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award
Amma Asante to receive Athena Award
Bridget Everett to receive Inaugural Breakthrough Award


Festival returns to Barnard College  February 22 – February 25, 2018


New York, NY (November 15, 2017) –The Athena Film Festival (AFF) announced today its 2018 awardees, celebrating female leaders in the entertainment industry. The festival will honor two-time Academy Award®-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple with the Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award. BAFTA winning writer and director Amma Asante will receive the Athena Award, and cabaret artist and actress Bridget Everett with be honored with the Inaugural Breakthrough Award.  The eighth annual festival, co-founded by the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College and Women and Hollywood, will take place February 22-25, 2018, at Barnard College in New York City.


The Athena Film Festival celebrates the leadership and creative accomplishments of trailblazers in the entertainment industry.  The festival showcases films about powerful and courageous women leaders in real life and the fictional world; it is a weekend dedicated to elevating female voices and stories to inspire and empower a new generation of filmmakers and individuals.


“We are proud to announce our 2018 Athena Film Festival awardees. This outstanding group of women are bold and courageous leaders in the entertainment industry,” said Kathryn Kolbert, co-founder of the Athena Film Festival and the Constance Hess Williams ‘66 Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College. “Now more than ever, it is critically important to recognize and support women who are trailblazers in their fields.”


“One of the most exciting things we do at the Athena Film Festival is selecting a handful of incredible women each year to recognize for their contributions to the industry,” said Melissa Silverstein, Athena Film Festival artistic director co-founder and founder of Women and Hollywood.  “It’s crucial that women continue to inspire and support each other, and we are thrilled that Athena is a part of that.”


Barbara Kopple is known for her work in documentary film, winning two Oscars® for HARLAN COUNTY, USA and AMERICAN DREAM. The Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement award is given to a woman in the film industry whose leadership demonstrates vision and courage and sets a standard for other women to emulate.  Past recipients include Jodie Foster, Mira Nair, Sherry Lansing, and Gale Anne Hurd.


Amma Asante has directed films including A WAY OF LIFE, BELLE, which opened the 2014 Athena Film Festival, and A UNITED KINGDOM.  Bridget Everett recently starred in films including Sundance hit PATTI CAKE$, FUN MOM DINNER and TRAINWRECK, as well as TV shows “Girls,” and “Inside Amy Schumer.”


Previous Athena Film Festival awardees include Ava DuVernay, Eve Ensler, Greta Gerwig, Diablo Cody, Kasi Lemmons, Karyn Kusama, Debra Martin Chase, Dee Rees and Nekisa Cooper, Patricia Riggen, Callie Khouri, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Julie Taymor.


The 2018 festival co-chairs include Debra Martin Chase, Geralyn Dreyfous, Paul Feig, Sherry Lansing, Jon Levin, Dylan McDermott, Sheila Nevins, David Oyelowo, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Susan Rovner, Regina K. Scully, and Rachel Weisz.


Passes for the 2018 festival will go on sale in early December.  Individual ticket sales and the announcement of the lineup will take place in early January 2018. Please visit the Athena Film Festival’s website for regular updates, announcements and to purchase passes.


Barbara Kopple is a two-time Academy Award winning filmmaker. A director and producer of narrative films, documentaries and commercials, she most recently completed the documentary, A Murder In Mansfield, which had its premiere at the 2017 DOC NYC Film Festival.

Kopple’s work has been honored and recognized throughout the years including Harlan County USA and American Dream, both winners of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature; Miss Sharon Jones! which received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Arts & Culture Documentary; Running from Crazy which received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special; Woodstock: Now and Then which received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Arts & Culture Programming; Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson, for which she was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing; The House of Steinbrenner, part of ESPN’s Emmy nominated “30 for 30” series, which received a Peabody Award as well as the International Documentary Association Award for Best Continuing Series; Steamfitters Local Union 638 which was awarded the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences Governor’s Award; and Wild Man Blues for which she won the National Board of Review Award for Best Documentary.

Kopple has received numerous other prestigious awards recognizing her work, and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Director’s Guild of America, New York Women in Film and Television’s Honorary Board, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and actively participates in organizations that address social issues and support independent filmmaking.   She served on the American Film Institute’s advisory board for ten years.


Amma Asante, MBE is a multi-award winning writer and director who won a BAFTA for her first film, A WAY OF LIFE (2004). This made Amma the first Black female director to win a BAFTA Film Award for writing and directing a film. The film went on to garner 17 additional awards worldwide, including FIPRESCI, and Grand Jury prizes.

Her next film, BELLE (2013), drew widespread critical acclaim, going on to become one of the highest grossing independent films of the year and saw Amma named one of CNN’s Leading Women of 2014, as well as being named by Variety as one of their 10 Directors to watch. In 2016, A UNITED KINGDOM, directed by Amma for Pathé and Fox Searchlight US, was released and its European Premiere saw Amma celebrated as the first Black female director to open the BFI London Film Festival in its 60-year history.

This year Amma was named an MBE by Queen Elizabeth in the 2017 Birthday Honors list, for services to film as a writer and director.

Amma is currently in post-production on her next film, WHERE HANDS TOUCH. The film, inspired by historical events, is set in 1944 Germany and follows the plight of a young girl of colour attempting to survive under Nazi rule.  Acquired by Sony Worldwide, this completes a total of 3 films in just 4 years for the writer and director.

Bridget Everett is a world-renowned cabaret artist. She was named “the most exciting performer in New York City” on the cover of the Village Voice, and called “raw and riotous” by the New York Times. Everett and her band, The Tender Moments, perform regularly to sold-out theaters. Their album, POUND IT, is available on iTunes.


Everett has headlined her own major multi-city US tour, and has taken comedy festivals all over the world by storm including the Oddball Comedy Festival, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the Latitude Festival, Montreal’s Just For Laughs, Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme, and the San Francisco Sketchfest.  Last summer she spent two weeks headlining the famed Soho Theater in London.


Her film, theater, and television credits include “Inside Amy Schumer”, “Two Broke Girls”, “Sex and the City”, “Trainwreck”, “Girls,” and the off-Broadway smash “Rock Bottom”. Her live television special “Bridget Everett – Gynecological Wonder” premiered on Comedy Central, and she can also be seen featured on the hit Netflix show “Lady Dynamite”.  She is the star of the films Little Evil, Fun Mom Dinner, and the Sundance hit Patti Cake$. Everett is the co-creator, co-writer and star of the new Amazon series “Love You More,” which premiered on November 10, 2017.





Now in its eighth year, The Athena Film Festival is four days of inspiring films that honor courageous and audacious women in real life and the fictional world. The curated program includes features, documentaries, and shorts directed by both women and men. The festival also includes the annual selection of   the Athena List, a slate of 3-5 screenplays with female leaders or strong female protagonists that have yet to be made into films. The four-day festival, which includes conversations with directors, producers and actors, as well as activities for filmmakers, will be held February 22 – 25, 2018 in NYC at Barnard College. The Founding Sponsor of the Athena Film Festival is The Artemis Rising Foundation, Regina K. Scully, Founder and CEO.   




Established at Barnard College in 2009, the Athena Center for Leadership Studies is a catalyst for the education, development and advancement of inspired and courageous women leaders worldwide. Renowned civil rights attorney, Kathryn Kolbert, is the Center’s Constance Hess Williams Director


Women and Hollywood educates, advocates, and agitates for gender parity across the entertainment industry. Over the last ten years, 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 leader on the subject.


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, as the world-renowned liberal arts college for women at Columbia University, Barnard remains devoted to empowering extraordinary women to become even more exceptional.


Artemis Rising Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to developing and promoting media, education and the arts that transform our culture. Regina K. Scully is its founder and CEO.


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