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Festivals - Athena Film Festival 2018 : A great place for movie lovers

  • Par Mulder, New York, le 25.02.2018

    At the 2018 Athena Film Festival Awards ceremony on Friday February 23rd, many honors were bestowed to individuals who have been integral in advancing the work of women in film. The Inaugural Athena Breakthrough Award was awarded to Bridgett Everett, a world-renowned cabaret artist, comedian, musician and actress whose film Patti Cake$ was screened at the Athena Film Festival. Her live television special Bridget Everett - Gynecological Wonder premiered on Comedy Central, and she can be seen in Netflix's Lady Dynamite. The Athena Award was given to Amma Asante, MBE, a director and screenwriter who was the first black female director to win a BAFTA Award. Her films A Way of Life, Belle, A United Kingdom, and her upcoming Where Hands Touch demonstrate her commitment to exploring the challenging topics of race, gender and class.

    The Athena List winners, sponsored by Amazon Studios, comprise a list of screenplays with female protagonists that have not yet been produced. The Athena List Winners included Saving Esperanza by Betty Sullivan; Throw Like a Girl by Lori Bell Leahy; True North by Katherine Ruppe; and WHITE by A. Sayeeda Moreno. The Athena Leading Man Award was awarded to writer, director, producer, and founder of Bad Robot Productions, J.J. Abrams. In Abrams' career, which has included co-creating the Golden Globe-nominated television with Felicity, Abrams has worked to create content featuring powerful women and to champion narratives by and about women such as Alias… The 2018 Laura Siskin Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Barbara Kopple, a two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker known for her commitment to uncovering and telling the truth. Her film, Miss Sharon Jones!, screened in the 2018 Athena Film Festival. Lastly, a surprise award was given to festival co-founder Kathryn Kolbert for her work as a courageous and audacious woman leader.

    Athena Film Festival, it’s also panels and workshops. Generously free. Opened to the public.
    With a majority of women in the audience, Kate and Melissa attended a few of them for Mulderville and our readers:

    Alexa Junge’s masterclass on Producing and writing for TV. Alexa is a Barnard Alumna ’85, and accomplished show-runner, screenwriter, T.V. writer and producer whose credits include Friends, The West Wing, and Grace & Frankie. Funny and sharing as much as she could to guide the majority of writers and filmmakers in the audience seeking for advice to go further in their careers.

    With a writers industry composed of a majority of 90% white writers, 80% male, there is still a whole world to conquer, and Alexa is more than encouragement, she pushes you to do it yourself. We are at a time where we can use all the technology to feel empowered and never stop being creative. If you are willing to put yourself out there and good at your craft, you’ll get there! When there is good material, it does go to the top! Don’t stop being creative. Hold on to your power and manifest it. If you are an aspiring writer and don’t know where to start, look up the screenwriters you admire the most and make yourself available to them, they might need an assistant. Sometimes it will require that you offer your services for free… but that’s a long term investment. Or build a writing’s group and gather weekly for readings and accountability. As far as craft, she reminded the writers that the best writing was the genuine one. True to your authentic voice. Even if it requires you to go to some of your darkest places. Be willing to share your vulnerability. Lastly, be aware that Barnard college has a scholarship launched by Betsie to help women over 55.

    The social media class hosted by Darcy Heusel, VP of Audience Engagement and Impact at NEO, counted 3 interesting guests: Kristin McCracken, social media and content strategist for filmmakers and festivals; Christina Raia, filmmaker and Director of Crowdfunding at Seed&Spark; and Tanya Selvaratnam, writer, actor, activist, and Emmy-nominated and Webby-winning producer. As our panelists reminded us, organic growth has few chances nowadays, all platforms are pushing to use the paid advertisement, it’s all about being strategic about it. But first of, if you are a filmmaker or producer, start collecting a folder for content from the very first steps into a new project. Anything that can be content, a photo a video to introduce your cast or crew, share your current work, writing, scouting…, give something to your audience and become a resource to create not only following but also engagement. Identify your audience and connect with them.

    In the panel Revising the Canon on Sunday, February 25th, producer, writer and arts administrator Michelle Materre moderated a discussion with Montre Aza Missouri, founding partner of Ava DuVernay's distribution company ARRAY; Dr. Susan Jonas, playwright, producer, dramaturg and scholar; Dan Schoenbrunn, co-creator of the independent TV show The Eyeslicer; and Rachel Watanabe-Batton, producer, independent media strategist and President of Contradiction & Struggle. The wide-ranging conversation included discussions of how film and theatre can become more inclusive of works by women and POC, and the long history of works written by women and POC that have been marginalized in America. With education, discussion, access to capital, and long, hard work, the panelists presented demonstrated how the future of entertainment can truly become more representative of American audiences.

    The festival is over and we already miss it! Now mark your calendars for next year’s Athena Film Festival, for more female driven movies, documentaries, education and discussions.

    Written by Melissa Mars and Kate Herzlin
    Photos : Kate Herzlin