Athena Film Festival Offers Opportunities for Young Female Directors

You couldn’t choose a more appropriate place than Barnard College-with its long heritage of illustrious alumnae-for a film festival dedicated to female leadership and achievement. That’s precisely what Kathryn Kolbert, director of Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies, and Melissa Silverstein founder of Women and Hollywood thought when they created the festival in 2010.

The fact that Barnard is in New York City only helps to raise the Athena Film Festival’s profile and to attract top-level film industry talent to participate in workshops and seminars throughout the festival’s four days. Among those who have attended, spoken, judged submissions or screened their work are writer/directors Debra Martin Chase, Diablo Cody and Mira Nair, and producer Rachel Horovitz.
Yet Barnard is first and foremost an educational institution dedicated to preparing young women for leadership roles in society. So the Athena Film Festival has a special interest in nurturing the skills and talents of young female directors. (Women are still vastly underrepresented in the film industry, the festival continually reminds us.)
The festival’s submission guidelines explain its mission to showcase feature films, documentaries and shorts that highlight women’s leadership in real life and the fictional world. Festival lineups have included everything from the Disney/Pixar animated film Brave; to director Jim Loach’s Oranges and Sunshine, based on a true story and starring Emily Watson as a British social worker who uncovers a terrible miscarriage of justice; to director Mary Fishman’s Band of Sisters, a documentary about the role and work of Catholic nuns in the fifty years since Vatican II.
Last year’s festival screened 21 feature-length films and 24 shorts and works in progress and attracted an audience of 4,000 over four days.
The next Athena Film Festival takes place February 6-9, 2014, in New York City.
Submissions for the 2015 festival are expected to open in June 2014.
You don’t have to be a female filmmaker to submit your work to the Athena Film Festival, but you must be a writer, director, or producer with a film that tells a story of women taking charge-real or fictional, long or short, from any culture, country or time period.
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