Second Annual Athena Film Festival

By Olivia Goldman

Whether you’ve heard the buzz or seen the banners, you probably know that the second annual Athena Film Festival is coming to Barnard’s campus. Last year, the first Athena Film Festival saw 2,500 attendees, and more are expected to come this year.

Founders Katheryn Kolbert, Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, and Melissa Silverstein, founder of the blog Women and Hollywood (hats off to a fellow blogger!), have brought the cream-of-the-crop of over 200 films, prepared workshops on the nuts and bolts of filmmaking, and grabbed ahold of film legends and celebrities like Diablo Cody, Katie Couric, Julie Taymor, and Gloria Steinem–all to be hosted by our humble little campus. All this, to bring some diversity to the “white male vision” that dominates popular and contemporary film. (Only 5% of Hollywood directors are women.) The festival seeks to promote and recognize women in the film industry (all the award winners are women), but also to promote women on the big screen and to inspire filmmakers of both genders to make more films about women.

The festival, however, is no Sundance. The trend is clear, and some of us at Barnard might be a little inclined to look over the festival as a typical “feminist hoorah.” Although a little different than last year’s qualifications, the movies were chosen according to general, but strong guidelines.

1. The woman has to be active in the movie.
According to Silverstein, during the selection process for the festival, “if there wasn’t a woman on the screen in the first twenty minutes, it was out.” In order to bring about some subconscious change for that white male that’s always seems to be jumping for more screen time (later, Tom Cruise), you’re going to be seeing a lot of your female protagonist.

2. It has to be a good movie.
The Athena Film Festival isn’t for premieres and it’s not a competition, like some other festivals. This gives the festival a good leg up for picking films that pertain to its objective, while also enabling it to maintain a certain quality level across the board.

3. It has to inspire others.
Director Kolbert and Ms. Silverstein provided the Emma Goldman quote, “If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution!” While you’ll get your share of dark melodramas from the selected films (it’s true that woman leadership can be “kind of intense”), the idea is for the films to be inspirational, and for the most part upbeat.

The logic? The more women leaders on the screen, the more women leaders we’ll start to see in real life. The real objective of the Athena Film Festival is to use film as a way to greater social change– to inspire women to realize their potential to effect the world, and to credit the women that already have.

Ticket Policy for Students
$30 for festival pass for all three days
$7 for each individual film screening (selected ones are free)
Group discount for buying nine tickets at a time
Free for screenings assigned for class

Olivia Goldman is a sophomore at Barnard College and Senior Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing.


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