2014 Athena Film Festival Lineup Includes BELLE, SHORT TERM 12, THE BOOK THIEF & IN A WORLD
The 2014 Athena Film Festival has unveiled its lineup of narrative, documentary and short films.
The New York Premiere of BELLE, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and directed by Amma Asante, is the Athena Film Festival’s Opening Film, screening on Thursday evening. DECODING ANNIE PARKER, starring Helen Hunt and Samantha Morton and directed by Steven Bernstein, is the festival’s Centerpiece Film, and will be screened on Friday evening. GERALDINE FERRARO: PAVING THE WAY, directed by her daughter, Donna Zaccaro, is the festival’s Closing Film, screening on Sunday evening.
The festival honors extraordinary women in the film industry and showcases films that address women’s leadership in real life and the fictional world. Now in its fourth year, the festival runs from Thursday, February 6 through Sunday, February 9 on the Barnard College campus in Morningside Heights. Artemis Rising Foundation is the Founding Sponsor of the Festival.
Among the feature films included in this year’s slate are: SHORT TERM 12, starring Brie Larsen and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, THE BOOK THIEF, starring Sophie Nélisse and Emily Watson and directed by Brian Percival, and IN A WORLD…, written and directed by Lake Bell.
The documentary category includes ALICE WALKER: BEAUTY IN TRUTH, directed by Pratibha Parmar, REGINA, directed by Diana Groó, WHOOPI GOLDBERG PRESENTS MOMS MABLEY, directed by Whoopi Goldberg, THE OTHER SHORE, directed by Timothy Wheeler, and THE 99ERS, directed by Erin Leyden.
A wide variety of shorts will be featured including: THE RED PILL, directed by Academy Award nominee Lucy Walker, THE WORLDS OF BERNICE BING, directed by Madeleine Lim, MISS TODD, directed by Kristina Yee, and TINA FOR PRESIDENT, directed by Carmen Emmi.
“We are proud to announce such a diverse group of films, portraying women in leadership,” said Kathryn Kolbert, co-founder of the Festival and the Constance Hess Williams ’66 Director of the Athena Center. “Each year we strive to bring influential films to the festival that will entertain and inspire us all.”
“We are thrilled to welcome such talented filmmakers and a broad range of films to this year’s festival,” said Melissa Silverstein, co-founder and Artistic Director of the Festival and founder of Women and Hollywood. “We again present films full of talented female characters that exemplify the possibilities for a culture full of women leaders.”
As previously announced, Sherry Lansing, former Chair and CEO of Paramount Pictures and former President of 20th Century Fox, is the recipient of this year’s Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award. Additional awardees include Callie Khouri, Academy Award winning screenwriter of Thelma and Louise, and creator of the series Nashville; Kasi Lemmons, actress, director and writer of Black Nativity, Talk to Me, Eve’s Bayou and The Caveman’s Valentine; and Keri Putnam, Executive Director of the Sundance Institute.
Belle – New York Premiere- Opening Film
Director: Amma Asante
Run Time: 105 minutes
Belle is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay, an 18th Century British naval officer. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield and his wife, Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, but her color prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing. Yet, Belle uses her presence and intelligence to help inform the thinking of her father figure, Lord Mansfield, as he deliberates the most pressing issue of the time – the abolition of slavery.
The Book Thief
Director: Brian Percival
Run Time: 131 minutes
Based on the beloved bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the inspirational story of a spirited and courageous young girl who transforms the lives of everyone around her when she is sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany.
Decoding Annie Parker – Centerpiece Film
Director: Steven Bernstein
Run Time: 91 minutes
Decoding Annie Parker tells the true story of two very different women on seemingly similar paths towards ground-breaking discoveries. Annie Parker a cancer survivor who was convinced that her illness and the illness of all the women in her family were connected and Dr. Mary-Claire King, a geneticist, who bucked the conventional wisdom about cancer research and discovered the genetic link in breast cancer and the BRCA1 gene.
Farah Goes Bang
Director: Meera Menon
Run Time: 90 minutes
Awkward twenty-something Farah Mahtab hits the road with her buddies K.J. and Roopa to stump for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, hoping the trip will also be her opportunity to lose her virginity. Crisscrossing the culturally divided nation at this decisive post-9/11 moment, these multicultural girls find themselves and their politics unwelcome in many parts of the country. They take inspiration from their friendship and press on in their campaign, even as Farah’s efforts on both political and sexual fronts are continuously thwarted.
Directors: Youssef Delara & Michael D. Olmos
Run Time: 80 minutes
Filly Brown is an inspiring portrait of a young artist striving to seize her dreams without compromise. Majo Tonorio, aka, “Filly Brown” is a young, raw hip-hop artist from Los Angeles who spits rhymes from the heart. With a mother in prison and a father struggling to provide for his daughters, Majo knows that a record contract could be her family’s ticket out. But when a record producer offers her a shot at stardom, she is suddenly faced with the prospect of losing who she is as an artist, as well as the friends who helped her reach the cusp of success.
The Hot Flashes
Director: Susan Seidelman
Run Time: 99 minutes
An unlikely basketball team of unappreciated middle-aged Texas women, all former high school basketball champions, challenge the current high school state champs to a series of games to raise money for breast cancer prevention. Sparks fly as these marginalized women go to comic extremes to prove themselves on and off the court, and in the process, become a national media sensation.
In A World…
Director: Lake Bell
Run Time: 93 minutes
Carol Solomon is a struggling vocal coach. Propelled by the hubris of her father, Sam Sotto, the reigning king of movie-trailer voice-over artists, Carol musters the courage to pursue her secret aspiration to be a voice-over star. After landing her first voice-over gig, nabbing the job from industry bad boy Gustav Warner, the real trouble begins as Carol becomes entangled in a web of dysfunction, sexism, unmitigated ego, and pride. In A World. . . brings its viewer into an idiosyncratic world where one woman fights the odds and finally finds her voice.
Reaching For The Moon
Director: Bruno Barreto
Run Time: 118 minutes
Language: English & Portuguese
Based on a true story, Pulitzer Prize winning-poet Elizabeth Bishop travels to Brazil and encounters the beguiling architect Lota de Macedo Soares. Initial hostilities make way for a complicated yet long-lasting love affair that dramatically alters Bishop’s relationship to the world around her.
Short Term 12
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Run Time: 96 minutes
Short Term 12 is told through the eyes of Grace, a twenty-something supervisor at a foster-care facility for at-risk teenagers. Passionate and tough, Grace is a formidable caretaker of the kids in her charge. But her own difficult past – and the surprising future that suddenly presents itself – throws her life into unforeseen confusion, made all the sharper with the arrival of a new arrival at the facility: a gifted but troubled teenage girl with whom Grace has a charged connection.
Tall as the Baobab Tree
Director: Jeremy Teicher
Run Time: 82 minutes
Language: Pulaar, French
Tall as the Baobab Tree poignantly depicts a family struggling to find its footing on the edge of the modern world. Coumba and her little sister Debo are the first to leave their family’s remote African village, where meals are prepared over open fires and water is drawn from wells, to attend school in the bustling city. But when an accident suddenly threatens their family’s survival, their father decides to sell 11-year-old Debo into an arranged marriage. Torn between loyalty to her family and her dreams for her and her sister’s future, Coumba hatches a secret plan to rescue her younger sister from a future she did not choose.
Director: Erin Leyden
Run Time: 50 minutes
The U.S. women’s soccer team’s thrilling penalty-kick shootout victory against China that won the 1999 World Cup turned the world of women’s sports upside down. Using candid footage shot by the players throughout the tournament, The 99ers presents a unique portrait of the team that irrevocably changed women’s athletics.
Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth
Director: Pratibha Parmar
Run Time: 81 minutes
Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth offers a penetrating look at the life and art of the celebrated writer, a self-confessed renegade, and human rights activist. It is a compelling story of an extraordinary woman’s journey from her birth in a paper-thin shack in the cotton fields of Putnam County, Georgia to her recognition as an award-winning writer. Walker’s inspiring journey is also a story of a country and a people at the fault line of historical change.
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs
(Sponsored by Whitewater Films)
Director: Grace Lee
Run Time: 82 minutes
Grace Lee Boggs (BC ‘35) is a 98-year-old Chinese American woman living in Detroit. A writer, activist, and philosopher rooted for more than 70 years in the civil rights movement, she has devoted her life to an evolving revolution that encompasses the contradictions of America’s past and its potentially radical future.
Director: Luciana Kaplan
Run Time: 96 minutes
From an indigenous community in Oaxaca, Mexico, Eufrosina Cruz Mendoza is denied the right to become president of her community, because she is a woman. Eufrosina’s Revolution follows her fight for gender equality as she questions traditions and defies the chiefs.
Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way – Closing Film
Director: Donna Zaccaro
Run Time: 86 minutes
Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way tells the story of this extraordinary trailblazer who is a role model for both women and men around the world. Filmmaker Donna Zaccaro creates a moving, powerful and oftentimes surprising portrait of her mother, whose run for Vice President changed the face of American politics forever.
Director: Jillian Schlesinger
Run Time: 82 minutes
Language: English, Dutch with subtitles
15-year-old Laura Dekker sets out – camera in hand – in pursuit of her dream to be the youngest person to sail around the world alone. In the wake of a year-long battle with Dutch authorities that sparked a global storm of media scrutiny, Laura finds herself far from land, family and unwanted attention, in search of freedom, adventure, and distant dreams.
Miss You Can Do It
(In partnership with The Loreen Arbus Foundation)
Director: Ron Davis
Run Time: 80 minutes
One weekend a year, the Illinois town of Kewanee turns into a place of celebration and delight, as the annual Miss You Can Do It pageant spotlights young girls with disabilities from around the country. The first Miss USA contestant to compete with a disability, Abbey Curran started the pageant in 2004 to offer girls the opportunity to be celebrated for their inner beauty and spirit.
The Other Shore
Director: Timothy Wheeler
Run Time: 100 minutes
Follow world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad, as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities in this epic journey.
Director: María Agui Carter
Run Time: 75 minutes
Shrouded in mystery and long the subject of debate, the amazing story of Loreta Velazquez, Confederate soldier turned Union spy, is one of the Civil War’s most gripping, yet forgotten narratives. Who was she? Why did she fight? And what made her so dangerous that she has been virtually erased from history?
Director: Diana Groó
Run Time: 64 minutes
Diana Groó’s poetic documentary tells the story of Regina Jonas (1902-1944), the first properly ordained female rabbi in the world. The daughter of an Orthodox Jewish peddler, she was ordained in 1935. Jonas’ sermons and unparalleled dedication brought encouragement to the persecuted German Jews during the Nazi era. She was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. Narrated by Rachel Weisz.
Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley
(Sponsored by the Harnisch Foundation)
Director: Whoopi Goldberg
Run Time: 71 minutes
Breaking racial and gender stereotypes, the African-American stand-up comedienne Jackie “Moms” Mabley has long been an icon in the comedy world. Once billed as “the funniest woman in the world,” she performed on stage and in television and film until her death in 1975. The film explores Mabley’s legacy through recently unearthed photography and rediscovered performance footage.
Director: Therese Shechter
Run Time: 5 minutes
The 2011 SlutWalk march was one of the most unique feminist actions in New York history – one piece of a grassroots global movement that is both empowering and controversial.
30% (Women and Politics in Sierra Leone)
Director: Anna Cady
Director of Animation: Em Cooper
Run Time: 11 minutes
Amid a violent war that has seen over 50,000 people killed, three women wage a battle for women’s representation in Sierra Leone in this unique oil-painted animated film. From diverse religious, ethnic and political backgrounds, they share stories of secret societies, corruption, violence and sexual harassment within the world of politics.
A Kiss For Gabriela
Director: Laura Murray
Run Time: 29 minutes
Language: Portuguese with English subtitles
This film tells the compelling story of Gabriela Leite, the first sex worker to run for Congress in Brazil as she faces 822 opponents and challenges a male dominated political system. Can a sex worker, activist, and cultural icon beat the odds and win the election?
Director: Jenn Strom
Run Time: 5 minutes
Created by painting and drawing on sheets of glass, which were photographed and digitally composed, this film’s experimental animations contain fragments of archival footage: women walking in chains, protesting with placards, speaking at podiums. We hear bursts of words and a percussive hum—until a message is finally revealed.
Director: Jeremy Ball
Run Time: 14 minutes
A young arctic hunter embarks on a perilous search for food for her family. Crossing the sacred boundary of her people’s ancestral hunting grounds, she discovers an incomprehensible world and a dangerous predator that challenges her ability to survive.
Director: Boris Schaarschmidt
Run Time: 17 minutes
Language: Arabic with English subtitles
In the blistering desert of Sudan, a pregnant mother and her two young children search for water and safety from the ruthless Janjaweed militia. When her brother is too weak to continue, Haleema is sent alone to find water. A dangerous journey full of hope and despair ensues.
Invisible Bicycle Helmet
Director: Fredrik Gertten
Run Time: 4 minutes
Two female entrepreneurs create a revolutionary bicycle helmet everyone told them would be impossible to engineer.
Laal Pari (The Red Fairy)
Director: Sadia Halima
Run Time: 20 minutes
Language: Hindi/Bhojpuri with English subtitles
When Laal Pari, an illiterate woman, ran for the village council in Bihar, India, she never dreamed she would be re-elected for a second term, and be able to work for the cause closest to her heart – safety and equal rights for women in her village.
Director: Kristina Yee
Run Time: 13 minutes
It’s 1909, as the world is waking to the possibilities of flight, Miss Todd dreams of flying but she’s got more than gravity holding her down. This is the story of her determination, perseverance, and passion.
Out of Step
Director: Lynn Estomin
Run Time: 6 minutes
Featuring four female veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who are dealing with PTSD and the aftermath of war, these dance solos and music highlight the women’s unique voices.
The Red Pill
Director: Lucy Walker
Run Time: 15 minutes
Paralympian Anjali Forber-Pratt was adopted from India as an infant and became paralyzed shortly after arriving in the US. Despite daunting obstacles, Anjali is now a PhD student and world record holder in 200m wheelchair racing.
Tina For President
Director: Carmen Emmi
Run Time: 14 minutes
A shy 8th grader, Tina runs for class president against the school bully in order to stand up for her friend and herself.
Director: Stephanie Martin
Run Time: 20 minutes
Cruelty, courage, love and memory collide as two generations of women bear witness to the brutality common to wild horse roundups in the American West.
The Worlds of Bernice Bing
Director: Madeleine Lim
Run Time: 34 minutes
Chinese American lesbian artist Bernice Bing is known for creating art on her own terms. The film illuminates her life — from her art studio in the epicenter of San Francisco’s beat scene to her groundbreaking community work in rural northern California.
Additional screenings, panels and special events will be announced in the coming weeks.
Artemis Rising Foundation is the Founding Sponsor of the Festival.