Athena Film Festival

by Molly Labell

If you’re in the NYC area, check out Barnard College’s Athena Film Festival from February 10-13. All of the films feature female characters as protagonists and focus strongly on female leadership. Kathryn Kolbert, the co-curator of the festival, explains in a press release that “The films we’ll screen exemplify our mission—to bring women’s unique and powerful voice to the forefront.” Both documentaries and narrative films will be shown. You’ll be able to see some of your old favorites, like America Ferrera’s Real Women Have Curves, and some that will become your new favorites! I know I’m excited for The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls,  a 2009 documentary that tells the story of the world’s only comedic, singing, yodelling lesbian twin sisters. 

On the Athena Film Festival’s website, the organizers discuss the importance of hosting a female-centered festival. They explain that “In 2010, for the first time in history, a woman won the Oscar for best director. Directing is the most visible leadership position in film yet, in 82 years, only 4 women have been nominated for best director, and only a single woman has won. In 2009, in the 250 top-grossing domestic films, women made up only 7% of directors, 8% of writers, and 17% of executive producers. 98% of these films had no female cinematographers. And, in front of the camera, as of 2007, women had less than 30% of the speaking roles.”

Despite those startling nuggets of truth, there are a few films in the line-up directed and produced by men.  Melissa Silverstein, a co-curator, writes on the Women and Hollywood blog that she wanted to include some male directors in the roster because “bringing men into this conversation about women’s leadership can help change the conversation.” She then singles out several 2010 movies to make her point, discussing Secretariat, Conviction and Made in Dagenham, all of which portray strong female role models, and all of which are directed by men.

For more information and a more detailed list of the movies included, check out

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