The Athena Film Festival’s Creative Development Program

Advancing Inclusion On Screen

Through our Creative Development Program, we support filmmakers working on women-centric projects with funding, skill-building opportunities, and a strong, supportive network. We prioritize supporting writers from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in film and provide them with the resources, skills, and network they need to succeed in a challenging industry. 

To date, Athena has supported hundreds of writers and dozens of projects, including several narrative and documentary films that have been successfully produced.

We are grateful to our community of sponsors, instructors, facilitators, mentors, panelists, and friends who make this work possible and who share our commitment to advancing a more inclusive industry. 

Our Programs 

The Athena List

The Athena List is an annual script competition that selects exceptional scripts with women leaders at the heart of the story. As the signature program in the Athena Film Festival’s Creative Development 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.



The Athena Film Festival Writers Lab 

The Athena Film Festival Writers Lab is a three-day workshop for emerging writers which provides storytellers with creative guidance, training, industry access, and a valuable, supportive network. The festival hosts two writers labs per year serving writers for film and TV. Applicants must submit a project that features a woman/women characters in a leadership role at the center of the story.


AFF Documentary Pitch Program

The AFF Documentary Pitch Program (formerly Works In Progress Program) is an intensive pitch training and storytelling strengthening opportunity for documentarians. This program includes dynamic coaching and peer mentorship, culminating in a live pitch to industry representatives and introductions to a network of potential supporters and partners. Finished films are invited to screen at the annual festival. This program is sponsored by Secret Sauce Media.


Creative Development Grants and Awards 

In partnership with numerous companies and organizations, Athena awards over $85,000 annually to emerging storytellers working on women-centric content. Recipients are also provided with mentorship and guidance to help them advance their projects — and careers — to the next level.

If you are interested in learning more about our Creative Development Programs or ways to get involved or sponsor, please email our team at 

More detail on each program, select participants, and highlights are available in the following impact report.