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A Celebration of Women: The Athena Film Festival

When one looks at the Best Director Oscar nods every year, you often don’t find a single female name in the bunch.  Kathryn Bigelow, who won for The Hurt Locker in 2009, is a recent exception.  But that does mean that women aren’t behind the scenes. To get a dose of the amount of female power in the film industry today, attend the Athena Film Festival at Barnard College.

Now in its second year, the Athena Film Festival aims to celebrate women in leadership both on and offscreen.  This year’s opening night festivities kicks off with the 2012 Athena Film Festival Awards.  The reception will include honoring deceased producer and studio executive, Laura Ziskin, and granting awards to Rachel Horovitz, Julie Taymore, Dee Reese and Nekisa Cooper, Diablo Cody, Dana Fox, Liz Meriwether, Lorene Scafaria, and Theresa Rebeck.

The Festival itself will be featuring over 30 films from February 9-12.  Some of these standout films include: Luc Besson’s The Lady, which centers on Nobel Peace Prize winner and Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi; Larysa Kondracki’s The Whistleblower, which focuses on human trafficking in Bosnia; Jonathan Hoc’s Off the Rez, a documentary about a standout high school Native American female basketball player; Celine Sciamma’s Tomboy, a film about a young girl who’s often mistaken for a boy; Candace Schermerhorn’s The Naked Option, a documentary about a grassroots women’s movement in Nigeria.  Many of the screenings include a Q&A session with the directors and producers.

Special events also include workshops for filmmakers such as “From Script to Screen: Producing Filmin Tough Times” and “Building an Audience in a Digital Age.”  On February 11, you can attend a talk with Winnie Holtzman, creator of My So-Called Life and the Broadway musical Wicked, and Holtzman’s daughter, writer Savannah Dooley, both of whom created the ABC Family series Huge.  There’s also a sneak peek preview of Half the Sky, a 4-hour PBS documentary, which centers on the brave struggles of women and children struggling against the most difficult of circumstances.

For more information about the Festival and to purchase tickets, go to the Athena Film Festival website.