One of the perks of being a film student in New York is that there’s always something going on in the city. I was freaking out about finding something productive to do during my spring break and went searching for local festivals to volunteer at. Thankfully, I stumbled upon info about the eighth annual Athena Film Festival at Barnard College in New York City by following its co-founder and founder of Women And Hollywood, Melissa Silverstein on Twitter. With screenings and panels, the Athena Festival is a weekend dedicated to showcasing film with female-centric stories and female filmmaker. So, as a volunteer or not, I was going to attend this greatly-needed festival. But, luckily, I volunteered as well.
As a volunteer, it was amazing to see that so many people of all ages signed up to be a part of something that they really believe in and have so much fun doing it. The people who had been organizing and coordinating the festival for months were, obviously, passionate about what they were doing, and it was more than a pleasure to be amongst people who believed in the importance of female storytelling. It was just as great to see audiences made up of all types of people, who came out to see great films and support female stories. Meeting fellow volunteers who are interested in the same thing and are still trying to figure out what they want to do with this thing they love offered further proof that I am not only in the confusion I sometimes I feel in what I want to do. And, honestly, it was nice to burst the school bubble and actually do something.
The event that I enjoyed the most was the UnREAL season 3 premiere screening and Q&A following. UnREAL goes behind the scenes of a fictional reality dating show and the manipulation that goes into making a show much like The Bachelor franchise. I love the groundbreaking show, so it was great to be fortunate enough to hear the writer and showrunner discuss how they strive to tell the stories that best fit their complex female characters. Seeing the product of showrunner and executive producer, Stacy Rukeyser and executive producer and co-creator, Sarah Gertrude Shapiro’s hard work only inspires me, and other young women alike, to work more to be able to tell stories that I feel I need to tell.
This festival isn’t huge but it should be. This is a festival that’s purpose is to put a spotlight on women in an industry that constantly misrepresent them. Quite frankly, I think this festival deserves the same kind of coverage as the bigger festivals. It’s a film festival orchestra by women for women–that seems like it would call for countless articles and earned praise. What co-founders Kathryn Kolbert and Melissa Silverstein have done is not only outstanding for filmmakers and film enthusiasts in New York but for the film industry in general. The people who have worked tirelessly to put together a phenomenal festival are doing something so special, and, as a student with dreams for herself, I was proud to have a very small part in it.
Through my eyes,