The Athena Film Festival (AFF) at Barnard College announced its initial programming lineup for the 2023 festival today. The 13th annual festival, which is a joint partnership between Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership and the initiative Women and Hollywood, will take place from March 2 to March 5 on Barnard’s campus. The annual festival includes film screenings, in-depth conversations and panels with filmmakers and industry experts, a series of programs that support the pipeline of women creatives, and a wide variety of events focused on celebrating and amplifying the stories of bold, courageous women leaders.
JUDY BLUME FOREVER, directed by Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok, will screen as the festival’s Centerpiece Film on Saturday, March 4th. The documentary, which premiered at Sundance, focuses on Blume — whose books have sold more than 90 million copies since 1969 — and the generations of readers she has touched with her work. The film examines the beloved author’s impact on those readers, her influence on pop culture, and her frankness about puberty and sex — her books are among the most banned in the United States.
Selections from the narrative program include the New York premiere of THE LOST KING directed by Stephen Frears and written by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, DAUGHTER OF RAGE (La hija de todas las rabias), written and directed by Laura Baumeister de Montis, as well as screenings of THE LOST KING, directed by Stephen Frears, ANGRY ANNIE (Annie Colère), directed by Blandine Lenoir, and MY EMPTINESS AND I (Mi vacío y yo), directed by Adrián Silvestre. The festival will also screen WOMEN TALKING, directed by Sarah Polley, which is nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
The documentary lineup includes two films that were participants in the Festival’s Works in Progress program: BLACK MOTHERS LOVE AND RESIST, directed by Débora Souza Silva; and THE FIRE THAT TOOK HER, directed by Patricia Gillespie. Other documentaries include BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: CARRY IT ON, directed by Madison Thomas and MY NAME IS ANDREA, directed by Pratibha Parmar.
Shorts include the New York premiere of GLAZING, written and directed by Lilli Carré, as well as screenings of LOVE, BARBARA, written and directed by Brydie O’Connor; TO WADE OR ROW, directed by Rebecca van der Meulen; THE FEELING OF BEING CLOSE TO YOU, directed by Ash Goh Hua; CANS CAN’T STAND, directed by Matt Nadel and Megan Plotka; and EL CARRITO, written and directed by Zahida Pirani.
“Entering the 13th year of the Athena Film Festival I could not feel more proud of the unique and exciting slate of films we are sharing with our audiences this year. We look forward to bringing these important and underrepresented voices to the big screen,” said Melissa Silverstein, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of AFF and Founder of Women and Hollywood.
“The narratives we see shape our understanding of the world,” said Umbeen Bhatti, Constance Hess Williams ’66 Director of Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership. “At the Athena Film Festival, audiences won’t encounter tired, outdated narratives, but rather, narratives that more accurately reflect the world we live in and the future we want to build.”
Additional programming for the festival will be announced shortly.
Passes and tickets for the 2023 Athena Film Festival are on sale now, with additional details to be announced in the coming weeks. Visit the AFF website for more information, regular updates, and to purchase tickets and passes.
MORE INFORMATION ON ANNOUNCED FILMS AND PROGRAMS:
Angry Annie (Annie Colère)
Director: Blandine Lenoir
Writers: Blandine Lenoir and Axelle Robert
Producers: Aurora Films, Local Films
A countryside village in France, 1974. When she accidentally becomes pregnant, Annie, a working mother of two teenagers, meets with the Movement for the Liberation of Abortion and Contraception (MLAC), doctors and women who perform illegal abortions in the public eye, practicing a free, safe, and respectful method. Gradually Annie will join their battle, which will bring a new meaning to her life.
Daughter of Rage (La Hija de Todas las Rabias)
New York Premiere
Director/Writer: Laura Baumeister de Montis
Producers: Martha Orozco, Laura Baumeister de Montis, Rossana Baumeister, and Bruna Haddad
11-year-old Maria’s home is the biggest garbage dump in Nicaragua, where she lives with her mom. When circumstances change and Maria feels that she has been left alone with no one to take care of her, she is forced to find her own way.
Director: Flávia Neves
Writers: Melanie Dimantas and Flávia Neves
Producers: Mayra Faour Auad, Vania Catani, and Thomas Sparfel
Following the death of her foster mother, Fernanda goes back to her wealthy uncle’s house to implode certainties and let the painful truth about her origins surface.
My Emptiness and I (Mi vacío y yo)
Director: Adrián Silvestre
Writers: Raphaëlle Pérez, Adrián Silvestre, and Carlos Marques-Marcet
Producers: Testamento and Alba Sotorra
Raphi, from France, fantasizes about romances with princes and about starting a traditional family. But in reality, things aren’t like that. She works in a call center in Barcelona, struggles with at times embarrassing dates, and is diagnosed by her therapist as having gender dysphoria. We follow this trans woman as she makes her transition, as well as in her everyday life.
Directors/Writers: Nick Johnson and Will Merrick
Producers: Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian, and Natalie Qasabian
After her mother goes missing, a young woman tries to find her from home, using tools available to her online.
Director/Writer: Paul Weitz
Producers: Paul Weitz, Stephanie Meurer, Andrew Miano, Chris Parker, and Dylan Sellers
Directed by Academy Award-nominated writer Paul Weitz, Claire (Academy Award winner Jane Fonda) and Evelyn (Academy Award nominee Lily Tomlin) star in MOVING ON as estranged friends who reunite to seek revenge on Howard (Malcolm McDowell), the petulant widower of their recently deceased best friend. Along the way, Claire reunites with Ralph (Richard Roundtree), her great love, as each woman learns to make peace with the past and each other.
Director/Writer: Victor Nuñez
Producer: Heidi Levitt
A portrait of a widow, mother, professor, and author, Rachel Hendrix, finding her way in life after losing her beloved husband. It is a story of grief that we all know yet rarely get the chance to see with such nuance and intimacy.
The Lost King
New York Premiere
Director: Stephen Frears
Writers: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
Producers: Steve Coogan, Christine Langan, and Dan Winch
Stephen Frears’ latest tells the true story of an amateur historian (Sally Hawkins) battling skepticism and bureaucracy in a quest to locate the final resting place of King Richard III.
Vera Dreams of the Sea
Director: Kaltrina Krasniqi
Writer: Doruntina Basha
Producer: Shkumbin Istrefi
Vera is a middle-aged sign language interpreter who leads a well-structured life: a wife to a renowned judge, a supportive mother, and a caring grandmother. Her serenity is disrupted by her husband’s unexpected suicide, followed by an unwelcome, menacing parade of relatives who claim to have ownership over their village family house. Fear and mistrust will force Vera to take the family’s fate into her own hands.
Director: Kristy Guevara-Flanagan
Producer: Helen Hood Scheer
BODY PARTS traces the evolution of “sex” on screen from a woman’s perspective, uncovering the uncomfortable realities behind some of the most iconic scenes in cinema history and celebrating the bold creators leading the way for change.
Black Mothers Love and Resist
Director/Writer: Débora Souza Silva
Producers: Débora Souza Silva, David Felix Sutcliffe, Adina Luo, and Loi Ameera Almeron
Wanda Johnson and Angela Williams, mothers of young Black men victimized by police brutality, come together and build a network of community-led support, mutual aid, and healing.
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On
Director: Madison Thomas
Writers: Andrea Warner and Madison Thomas
Producer: Stephen Paniccia
This in-depth look at the life of the activist and musician offers archival material never seen before, as well as present-day footage of Sainte-Marie performing and interviews with the singer and her bandmates and colleagues.
Director/Writer: Phyllis Ellis
Producers: Phyllis Ellis and Howard Fraiberg
When 18-year-old South African runner Caster Semenya burst onto the world stage in 2009, her championship was not celebrated but marred by doubt, and her personal medical records were leaked to the international media. The public scrutiny of her body, driven by racism and sexism, obscured the most fundamental aspect of who she is: a great champion.
Esther Newton Made Me Gay
Director: Jean Carlomusto
Producers: Jean Carlomusto and Shanti Avirgan
Agility, persistence, and passionate inquiry have driven Esther Newton’s survival as a butch lesbian, octogenarian athlete, and groundbreaking scholar whose life’s work has influenced generations of LGBTQ activists and scholars.
The Fire That Took Her
Director: Patricia Gillespie
Producers: Julie Goldman, Kristi Jacobson, Carolyn Hepburn, Christopher Clements, and Tracy Elizabeth Jarrett
Mother-of-two Judy Malinowski, then 31, was doused in gasoline and set on fire by her crazed ex-boyfriend — and became one of the first ever to testify from beyond the grave, at the trial for her own murder. A story that lives at the intersection of true crime and #MeToo, THE FIRE THAT TOOK HER goes deep inside a landmark case to ask a timely question: How much must women suffer in order to be believed?
Director: Maris Curran
Producer: Jon Coplon
JEANNETTE tells the story of Jeannette Feliciano, a competitive bodybuilder and queer single mother, who struggles to cope with trauma after surviving the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. Filmed in striking and intimate vérité, this documentary embraces the strength, hope, and humor of an incredible woman’s journey of healing.
Judy Blume Forever
Directors/Producers: Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok
Producers: Sara Bernstein, Marcella Steingar, and Justin Wilkes
Generations of readers have found themselves in a Judy Blume book. Her name alone unleashes a flood of memories for anyone who’s gripped one of her many paperbacks. For decades, Blume’s radical honesty has comforted and captivated readers — and landed her at the center of controversy for her frankness about puberty and sex. Now the beloved American author candidly shares her own coming-of-age story.
Director: Daresha Kyi
Producer: Laura Tatham
This fascinating film follows professing Christian parents and LGBQT individuals who struggle with a faith that often condemns their children and themselves.
My Name Is Andrea
Director: Pratibha Parmar
Producer: Shaheen Haq
MY NAME IS ANDREA is a hybrid documentary drama based on the life of writer Andrea Dworkin, who decades before #MeToo called out sexism with revolutionary flair. With this film, the viewer is invited to reconsider the legacy of one of the most misunderstood figures of the 20th century. Shaped by the values of justice and equality learned from the civil rights movement as a young girl, Dworkin observed the ways that male chauvinism and discrimination impact every woman’s daily experience and dared to demand that women be seen as equals.
Queen of the Deuce
Director: Valerie Kontakos
Writers: Christos Asteriou, Valerie Kontakos, and Despina Pavlaki
Producers: Ed Barreveld, Valerie Kontakos, and Despina Pavlaki
From the 1960s to the ’80s, Greek-born Chelly Wilson built a porn cinema empire and a reputation as a savvy operator in the Times Square vicinity known as the Deuce.
CANS Can’t Stand
Directors: Matt Nadel and Megan Plotka
Producer: Matt Nadel
CANS CAN’T STAND follows a group of Black trans women in New Orleans who are fighting to repeal Louisiana’s unjust Crime Against Nature by Solicitation (CANS) law.
Director/Writer: Zahida Pirani
Producers: Zahida Pirani, Mauricio Piratova, and Ran Yan
After a harrowing event, an untrusting street vendor discovers the embrace of her community.
The Feeling of Being Close to You (能靠近你的感觉)
Director/Writer/Producer: Ash Goh Hua
THE FEELING OF BEING CLOSE TO YOU documents a mother and daughter’s attempt at healing the intergenerational trauma and abuse within their lives.
New York Premiere
Director/Writer/Producer: Lilli Carré
The animated female nude shifts in smear frames through the history of painting, parroting famous depictions of women. She tests the postures by inhabiting them and promptly discarding them, rejecting the fantasy that each represents.
Directors: Tanmay Chowdhary and Tanvi Chowdhary
Writer: Tanvi Chowdhary
Producer: Sue-Ellen Chitunya
Satakshi and Madhu, who went to school together, reunite after years of being apart on a night of festivities during the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata. As the night progresses, we find out that they have feelings for each other but are not able to express them.
Lilith & Eve
Director: Sam de Ceccatty
Writers: Manon Ardisson and Sam de Ceccatty
Producer: Manon Ardisson
That awkward moment when the first woman on earth meets … the first first woman on earth.
Long Line of Ladies
Directors: Rayka Zehtabchi and Shaandiin Tome
Producers: Garrett Schiff, Rayka Zehtabchi, Sam Davis, and Pimm Tripp-Allen
A girl and her community prepare for her Ihuk, the once-dormant coming-of-age ceremony of the Karuk tribe of Northern California.
Look Like You
Director/Writer: Snigdha Kapoor
Producers: Pulkit Datta and Lauren Sowa
Tara, a South Asian queer woman, goes to see her 8-year-old biological son after many years but is unprepared for the tensions that resurface with his white adoptive parents.
Director: Brydie O’Connor
Writers: Brydie O’Connor and Matt Hixon
Producers: Brydie O’Connor and Myriam Schroeter
A short documentary about the iconic legacy of pioneering lesbian experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer, as seen through the lens and love of her partner of over 30 years, Florrie Burke.
The Panola Project
Directors/Writers: Rachael DeCruz and Jeremy S. Levine
Producers: Rachael DeCruz, Jeremy S. Levine, and Melissa Fajardo
THE PANOLA PROJECT follows Dorothy, a convenience-store owner, as she goes door to door in her often-overlooked rural Black community in order to convince her neighbors to get their COVID-19 vaccines.
the ritual to beauty
Directors: Shenny De Los Angeles and Maria Marrone
Writer/Producer: Shenny De Los Angeles
Three generations of Dominican women explore their relationship to relaxing their hair. By conjuring the magic of water and the power of her ancestors, a daughter uses spoken word poetry as an incantation to break the generational curse that has blocked the women in her family from locating where joy lives inside the body.
Director/Writer: Aurora Brachman
Producer: Mariales Diaz
A daughter asks her mother a question about the abuse in her mother’s childhood. Her answer begs them to wade through its rippling effects throughout their lives.
Director/Writer: Destiny Macon
Producers: Destiny Macon, Jonathan Baty, Brad Jayne, Kisha Imani Cameron, and Smitha Lee
A timid engineer develops a wild and expressive split personality to help her speak up to the boy’s club at work.
To Wade or Row
Director/Writer: Rebecca van der Meulen
Producers: Leanne Macaione and Dina Barossi
When Jane visits a small town motel, she puts her trust in its covert clinic. A sheriff’s arrival places her future in jeopardy.