2016 Athena Film Festival Preview

The festival celebrates women and leadership in both real life and in the fictional world of cinema.

The sixth annual Athena Film Festival will take place at Barnard College in New York City on Feb. 18-21, 2016. The festival, which was launched in 2009 as a joint project of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, Barnard College, and Women and Hollywood, celebrates women and leadership in both real life and in the fictional world of cinema.

The documentary Trapped, directed by Dawn Porter, will open the festival on Thursday evening. Trapped takes its name from TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws, which are ostensibly meant to protect women’s health but have the effect of reducing women’s access to abortion. Trapped won a Special Jury Prize at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and was also nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Athena Festival co-founder Kathryn Kolbert will conduct a conversation with Porter immediately following the screening.

CodeGirl, a documentary directed by Lesley Chilcott, will close the festival on Sunday night. CodeGirl follows several teams of young women from around the world as they compete in the Technovation competition. Each team is tasked with identifying a need in their community (the issues on which the teams focus include waste disposal, drunk driving, and online bullying) and developing, in three months, an app to address it. Chilcott will attend and take part in a conversation about the film following the screening.

Other films featured at the 2016 Athena Film Festival include the recent feature films Far from the Madding Crowd, Inside Out, Suffragette, Freeheld, Testament of Youth, and Mustang, and the documentaries A Ballerina’s Tale, He Named Me Malala, Mavis!, Radical Grace, and Speed Sisters.

Director Mira Nair will receive the 2016 Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award for her distinguished career in films, including the Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay!, Monsoon Wedding (winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival), and the upcoming Disney production Queen of Katwe, which is based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a chess prodigy from Uganda. Composer Jeanine Tesori, director Karyn Kusama, and producer Geralyn Dreyfous will receive Athena Awards at the festival while director Paul Feig will receive Athena’s Leading Man Award and Suffragette the Athena Film Festival Ensemble Award.

The Festival also includes a number of panels and workshops, including a conversation with Paul Feig, master classes with Jeanine Testori, Joel Fields, Karyn Kusama, and Sheila Neina, a reading from the award-winning screenplay for The Burning Season, and panel discussions on unconscious bias, crowdfunding, and barriers facing women directors.

Further information about the 2016 Athena Film Festival, including the complete schedule and ticket information, is available from the festival web site. | Sarah Boslaugh

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