Athena Film Festival Goes Hybrid

By Ayana Byrd ’95

Blue poster for the Athena Film Festival 2022

As the world changes rapidly around us, the 12th annual Athena Film Festival, co-founded by Barnard’s Athena Center and Women and Hollywood, leaned into both tradition and innovation: This year’s 10-day festival, which kicked off on March 11, delivered its signature, woman-centered storytelling in an all-new hybrid format. This approach allowed attendees to gather in person at the College or watch online, providing access to feature-length films, shorts, and panel conversations.     

“It was great to gather again with our students, alumnae, filmmakers, sponsors, and supporters, and we are so pleased that our virtual platform allowed us to connect with viewers from across the country,” says Umbreen Bhatti ’00, Constance Hess Williams ’66 Director of the Athena Center.

Highlights

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Film still of a Black woman standing in the street under streetlights from the film Master

Opening-night audiences were entertained by Master, starring Regina Hall, Zoe Renee, and Amber Gray. Writer-director Mariama Diallo’s film follows three women as they attempt to fit in at a prestigious New England university that is haunted not only by its racist and classist traditions but by something more sinister and perhaps supernatural.

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Filmstill from KiliBig of woman on mountain top in a orange coat

The documentary Kili Big earned director Ida Joglar this year’s Breakthrough Award, an honor given in partnership with Netflix to a first- or second-time woman director whose film does not yet have U.S. distribution. Kili Big is the story of a group of women overcoming a mountainous challenge: a trek to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

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Image of filmmaker Ida Lupino and her camera

Marking its U.S. premiere, Ida Lupino: Gentlemen and Miss Lupino, directed by Clara Kuperberg and Julia Kuperberg, is about real-life filmmaker Ida Lupino, who was the only female director in 1940s Hollywood, as well as the only woman in the Directors Guild.

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Filmstill from Exposure of a woman in a fur hood with a blue neck gaiter over her face

Debuting as the Alfred P. Sloan STEM Showcase film, the documentary Exposure, directed by Holly Morris, follows 10 novice women explorers from the Arab world and the West, led by veteran explorer Felicity Aston, on their expedition to the North Pole.

By the Numbers

35

films screened during this year’s Athena Film Festival

40%

of this year’s directors identify as women of color

90%

of this year’s filmmakers identify as women or nonbinary

450+

films screened at the festival since its founding

$145K

distributed to filmmakers working on women-centric scripts since 2020

13

of this year’s films are New York premieres

Latest IssueSummer 2022