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Whether you live in New York or just happen to be visiting the city this coming weekend, add the Athena Film Festival to your to-do list. The festival commences this Thursday, February 9th and ends on Sunday the 12th. Thirty films will be shown all focused on celebrating Women’s Leadership. The festival is a production that is put on by the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, Barnard College, and Women and Hollywood. Co-founded by Kathryn Kolbert, from the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College and Melissa Silverstein, from Women and Hollywood, this will be their second annual festival.

With issues such as, only one female director ever having won an Oscar in over 83 years, to only 30% of women having speaking roles in top-grossing films, Kathryn Kolbert felt there was an important need to start a film festival to work on changing some of these issues. Like most industries, the film industry is ruled by men and they want to make movies for the 18-24 year old young man. This essentially has developed overt discrimination in the industry. What makes this festival unique is that the films that are screened are made by both men and women, but the focus is on a story that revolves around a female leader. There also needs to be one, if not more significant women in the movies. So, it’s not about completely shutting out men, rather it’s about including their work, along with the work of their fellow, female colleagues, but the movies all center around women.

To learn more about Kathryn Kolbert, you can read a recent interview of her in The Eye. For tickets, you can purchase them here. To check out the schedule for the festival, you can view the program here. Finally for directions to all the venues and a map of the Barnard College Campus, click on this link.

Here’s a little teaser for one of the movies that will be shown at the festival called, Black Butterflies. 

Poetry, politics, madness, and desire collide in the true story of the woman hailed as South Africa’s Sylvia Plath. In 1960s Cape Town, as Apartheid steals the expressive rights of blacks and whites alike, young Ingrid Jonker (Carice van Houten, Black Book) finds her freedom scrawling verse while frittering through a series of stormy affairs. Amid escalating quarrels with her lovers and her government-censor father (Rutger Hauer), the poet witnesses an unconscionable event that will alter her life’s course.

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