Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies and Women and Hollywood today announced this year’s recipients of the Athena Film Festival Awards, which honor members of the film industry for their leadership and creative accomplishments. Prolific filmmaker and activist Mira Nair will receive The Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s festival, which will be held on Barnard’s campus from February 18-21, 2016. Additional awardees announced include Geralyn Dreyfous, executive producer of The Day My God Died, The Invisible War and The Square; Karyn Kusama, film director of  Aeon Flux, Jennifer’s Body, and Girlfight; and composer Jeanine Tesori ’83, who has scored films and plays including Fun Home, Twelfth Night, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Caroline or Change and Shrek the Third. This year, the Festival will also honor the cast and crew of Suffragette with the inaugural Athena Ensemble Award.

Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Awardee Mira Nair has directed films including Golden Globe® and Emmy Award- winning Hysterical Blindness, Salaam Bombay! Monsoon Wedding and Amelia. She recently completed Queen of Katwe for Disney.

“It is an honor to receive this award, to be in the august company of several splendid women who have paved the path before me,” said Nair. “‘No words – action’ was the lesson my mother taught me: as artists, we have the privilege of holding a mirror to the world, to engage, to question, to bring beauty to a complex universe.”

Honoring extraordinary women in the film industry, the festival highlights films that showcase women’s leadership in real life and the fictional world with a program including screenings, master classes, and Q&A panels with filmmakers and stars. Additionally, for the first time, the in partnership with The Black List, the Festival is launching the inaugural Black List Mini-Lab. Four female writers with scripts focusing on women’s leadership will be selected to participate in the Mini-Lab at the festival.

“We are honored to be recognizing the remarkable accomplishments of these outstanding women,” Kathryn Kolbert, co-founder of the Athena Film Festival and the Constance Hess Williams Director of the Barnard College Athena Center said. “Each woman has had an extraordinary impact on entertainment, and their careers exemplify the power of female leadership in film.”

“The push for gender parity in Hollywood has gained momentum this year. We are proud to recognize women who through their work and their voices are changing the industry,” Melissa Silverstein, Athena Film Festival co-founder and artistic director and founder of Women and Hollywood said. “Celebrating an inspiring cross-section of filmmakers and artists for the sixth year continues the Athena Film Festival’s mission of highlighting the remarkable people forging a path for women in the industry.”

Previous honorees have included Jodie FosterAva DuVernayDiablo Cody,Kasi LemmonsCallie KhouriGina Prince-BythewoodSheila Nevins, Julie TaymorSherry Lansing and Gale Anne Hurd, among others.

The 2016 festival co-chairs include Amma AsanteJulie Parker BenelloDebra Martin ChaseDan CoganDiane LevinJon Levin, Regina K. ScullyRachel WeiszSherry LansingGina Prince- BythewoodSheila NevinsDylan McDermottAva DuVernaySusan RovnerLisa Garcia Quiroz and Susan Fales-Hill

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