Filmmaker and Activist Jess Jacobs (left) at the 2023 Athena Film Festival's screening of Plan C

On October 2, the Athena Film Festival launched submissions for the Abortion Pipeline Project (APP), a new fund to celebrate and support abortion stories. APP is a screenplay competition for feature-length and short narrative film scripts which center abortion. 

As a direct result of the June 2022 US Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, more than 20 million women and girls in the US now live in states where abortion access is heavily restricted or totally inaccessible. Restrictions on this access are putting women’s lives and health at risk, with harm falling disproportionately on marginalized populations including Black, indigenous, and people of color; people with disabilities; immigrants; and those living in poverty.

Through APP, we are aiming to shift the way the media and our society understand the context and complexity of abortion by elevating the voices of abortion storytellers. In partnership with Renee Bracey-Sherman, Co-Executive Director of We Testify, and Dr. Gretchen Sisson, lead researcher of ANSIRH’s Abortion Onscreen, we will identify, support, and advance more complex, dynamic, nuanced stories of abortion justice on screen to influence the public’s understanding of policy and power around this crucial human rights issue.

“We Testify is excited to collaborate with The Athena Film Festival on the APP, a critical opportunity to invest in fearless filmmakers to tell nuanced and thoughtful stories about our abortion experiences” said Renee Bracey Sherman, Founder & Co-Executive Director of We Testify. “Supporting artists and filmmakers to create narrative screenplays that bolster their brilliance and illustrate the beauty and complexity of our reproductive lives is critical to changing the conversation about abortion.”

Selected APP winners will receive a direct financial grant to help them advance their script, mentorship from reproductive justice experts, and support from writing advisors – everything the writers need to create authentic abortion stories. 

“One in three women and birthing people in the United States has had an abortion, a reality we have yet to see reflected in the lives of characters we love onscreen.” said filmmaker and activist, Jess Jacobs. “This is where the Abortion Pipeline Project comes in. This project brings those stories to the forefront and honors the writers who wield their pens to change the narrative, because abortion shapes all of our lives. It is an honor to get to work with Athena alongside WeTestify and ANSIRH to identify and celebrate the stories I wish had been on screen when I had my abortion over a decade ago. I think I would have realized I was not, at all, alone.”

Submissions for the Abortion Pipeline Project are open until Monday, November 12, 2023. For more program information and to submit, please visit Winners of the inaugural Abortion Pipeline Project will be announced at the 2024 Athena Film Festival, being held February 29 - March 3, 2024 at Barnard College in New York City.

For those interested in contributing funds or support to APP, please contact Melissa Silverstein at

The APP is the newest addition to the Athena Film Festival’s Creative Development Program, a series of year-round initiatives supporting women-centered stories and the creatives bringing those stories to life. To read more about Athena’s Creative Development Program, click here

About The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College
Over the past fourteen years, the Athena Film Festival has established itself as the premier festival dedicated to celebrating and elevating women’s leadership. Our festival highlights films showcasing women’s leadership from underexplored perspectives, women leading in all places and spaces who are resisting and refuting preconceived notions of all they can be and do. Through our Creative Development Program, we are bolstering the pipeline of creatives who are telling these stories and fostering a network of women in film.

The Athena Film Festival is a joint project of Barnard College’s Athena Center for Leadership and Women and Hollywood. The festival’s founding sponsor is the Artemis Rising Foundation and its CEO, Regina K. Scully.

About Jess Jacobs 

Jess Jacobs is an actress, speaker, global advocate, and co-founder of Invisible Pictures. She is known for her work supporting women’s rights globally. 

About We Testify 

We Testify is an organization dedicated to the leadership and representation of people who have abortions, increasing the spectrum of abortion storytellers in the public sphere, and shifting the way the media understands the context and complexity of accessing abortion care. 

About  ANSIRH’s Abortion Onscreen

ANSIRH’s Abortion Onscreen Database is a listing of all film and television depictions available to viewers in the United States in which a character obtains an abortion, or discloses having one in the past. The database is updated monthly with any new plotlines.