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Xavier Dade / Staff Photographer

The Athena Film Festival's list of speakers this year includes Gloria Steinem, Billie Jean King, and Helen Clark. Photo by Xavier Dade.

Barnard is readying itself to host its annual Athena Film Festival, one of the college’s biggest events of the year. The festival is replete with current in-demand films, shorts, and documentaries—works starring bold, exemplary female leaders and their remarkable stories of resilience, courage, and fortitude.

The eighth annual Athena Film Festival will run from Thursday Feb. 22 through Sunday Feb. 25 at Barnard. The festival—co-founded in 2009 by the Barnard Athena Center for Leadership Studies alongside Women and Hollywood—is described as “a weekend dedicated to elevating female voices and stories that inspire and empower a new generation of filmmakers and individuals,” according to the festival’s website.

The festival’s guest list includes high profile names from the film industry and beyond: 70s tennis star Billie Jean King, the first elected female prime minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, and activist Gloria Steinem.

The festival begins with an opening night showing of “Battle of the Sexes,” loosely based on the the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, portrayed by Emma Stone and Steve Carell, respectively. King will be in attendance following the showing for a Q&A.

“MANKILLER,” a documentary about late American Indian political leader Wilma Mankiller, is the “centerpiece film” of the festival. The showing will be followed by a panel featuring Steinem, Director Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, and Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd, moderated by Ann Hornaday from the Washington Post.

“My Year with Helen,” which follows the story of Helen Clark, will make its international premiere at the festival. Clark, alongside Director Gaylene Preston, will host a Q&A following the screening.

The festival will also host an early premiere of the third season of the Lifetime series “UnREAL.” Following the screening, there will be a conversation moderated by Elizabeth Wagmeister between cast member Shiri Appleby, showrunner and executive producer, Stacy Rukeyser, and co-creator and executive producer, Sarah Gertrude Shapiro.

Each year, Athena honors a selection of preeminent filmmakers and artists. The 2018 recipient of the Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award is Barbara Kopple, two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker. She is known for her work on documentaries such as “Harlan County, USA,” a film on the 1973 Kentucky coal miners strike, and “American Dream,” about the 1985 strike against Hormel Foods in Minnesota. She will be participating in a Q&A following the screening of her most recent film, “Miss Sharon Jones,” at the festival.

The 2018 Athena Leading Man Award will be presented to J.J. Abrams—co-creator of the hit TV series “Lost,” director of multiple blockbusters including “Star Trek” (2009), “Super 8,” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Additionally, writer and director Amma Asante will be presented with the 2018 Athena Award, and actress and cabaret artist Bridget Everett will be honored as the 2018 Inaugural Athena Breakthrough Awardee.

Further films to look forward to throughout the weekend include five-time 2018 Oscar nominee “Lady Bird,” directed by Greta Gerwig, BC ’06. “I am Not a Witch,” a film by first-time writer and director Rungano Nyoni, will make its New York premiere; Julia Meltzer, director of documentary “Dalya’s Other Country,” will host a Q&A after the film’s screening. The festival will conclude with a showing of “The Post,” a 2018 Best Picture nominee, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring both Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.

Not limited to traditional film, the festival will also host multiple virtual reality experiences using immersive 360˚ VR headsets, such as “Look but with Love: A Story of Women,” and “Look but with Love: A Story of Dance” from Oscar-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.

Running concurrently to the visual presentations will be several panels and workshops—most of which are free to attend and open to the public. Alexa Junge, BC ’85, will host a “Master Class on Producing and Writing for Television;” her notable work includes writing and producing episodes of “Friends,” “Grace and Frankie,” “The West Wing,” and “Sex and the City.” Other panels include “Revising the Canon,” “The Female Gaze,” and “Spotlight Women and STEM.”

All-access passes are $20 for students at the current early bird rate, and tickets for individual movie screenings are available at a student rate of $5. Tickets are available online now through the Athena Film Festival Website and Eventbrite.

A full list of films screening at the 2018 Athena Film Festival can be found on the festival’s website.

sarah.robertson@columbiaspectator.com | @ColumbiaSpec

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