The directors, writers, and producers who came to Barnard’s Athena Film Festival February 10-14 have had firsthand experience with the challenges women in the movie industry face—and the difficulties of breaking through the so-called “celluloid ceiling.”
The festival’s organizers—Kathryn Kolbert, director of Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies, and Melissa Silverstein, founder of Women and Hollywood, a women’s film news and advocacy Web site—had a twofold agenda: to recognize the critical contributions that women have made to the film industry, as well as to provide a forum to showcase their work. “This is truly a great moment for Barnard,” said Barnard President Debora Spar, who added that the College, with its long tradition of supporting women’s advancement in the arts and sciences, was also the perfect venue to celebrate women’s achievement in films. Especially since, as she noted in her remarks at the opening night’s awards ceremony, there had never been a major women’s film festival in New York. “Where better to launch this than at Barnard?” asked Spar.