The seventh annual Athena Film Festival, which will take place this Thursday, February 9—Sunday, February 12, will showcase films by and about women and honor the accomplishments of the women who bring those stories to life. Single-event, one-day, and weekend festival passes are available for purchase on the festival website. The full schedule is also available.
The opening night film, Little Pink House, has a special history with the festival; the script was chosen for the Athena List in 2015. Similar to Hollywood’s “Black List,” the Athena List is a slate of screenplays that feature strong women leads and have not yet been made into films.
“This is the first film from the Athena List program to be made,” said festival co-founder Melissa Silverstein. “The fact that it will open the festival is an enormous thrill for all of us.”
The Red Carpet
The awards gala on Friday evening will honor extraordinary women in the entertainment industry: Eve Ensler, the activist and Tony Award-winning playwright of The Vagina Monologues; Patricia Riggen ’03 SOA, the director of La Misma Luna and Miracles from Heaven; and Regina K. Scully, an Emmy- and Oscar-nominated film producer as well as the founder and CEO of the arts nonprofit Artemis Rising Foundation. David Oyelowo, star of Selma and Queen of Katwe, will receive the Athena Leading Man award in recognition of his long-term, vocal support of women directors.
A new and innovative feature this year is the festival’s virtual reality booth, where participants can immerse themselves in three unfamiliar worlds: the daily life of a young girl living in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, an American’s abortion experience at a health clinic, and a Liberian village whose Ebola-stricken orphans are cared for by a woman immune to the disease. Another event unique to this year’s festival is an exclusive first look at clips from Hulu’s highly anticipated upcoming series The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood.
The Films and Panels
Visitors of all ages are expected to attend, and the festival has designated several films—Queen of Katwe, Long Way North, and more—as “Ideal for Families.” A student luncheon on Saturday is open to both high school and college students, and a Barnard alumnae reception will take place later that afternoon.
Panel discussions will follow screenings of most films; notably, Wendy Whelan, the world-renowned ballerina and Lida Orzeck ’68 Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at Barnard, will speak after a viewing of Restless Creature, a documentary about her career. Sheila Nevins ’60, the president of HBO Documentary Films, will host a talk with Alexis Bloom, the director of the Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher documentary Bright Lights.
The weekend will conclude with a screening of Dolores, a documentary about Dolores Huerta who—alongside Cesar Chavez—cofounded the National Farmworkers Association (now United Farm Workers) and advocated for workers’, immigrants’, and women’s rights. At a free town hall meeting before the screening, Huerta will join the national leadership of the Women’s March on Washington, local activists, and Barnard student activists will discuss how to harness the energy from recent protests and demonstrations to build a new movement for social change.