By next weekend (February 9-12), you'll probably be in dire need of a way to relax after all the protesting, senator-calling, and other resisting you've been doing. Good news: the Athena Film Festival, housed at Barnard College in New York City and open to the public, is returning for its 7th year.
The festival describes itself as "a celebration of women and leadership," and serves to highlight the work of women in the film industry. It also prioritizes films about women and women's issues; for instance, last year it screened the documentary Trapped, about abortion law in the United States.
On this year's programming slate are opening film Little Pink House directed by Courtney Balaker, which tells the true story of the eminent domain case Kelo vs. New London; closing film Dolores, about unsung union organizer Dolores Huerta; and Queen of Katwe by Mira Nair, who was awarded last year's Lifetime Achievement Award. Tickets are on sale now for these and the other features and shorts set to be screened at the festival. Ticket prices range from $12 to $20.
Also on the agenda are panels about topics relevant to women filmmakers, including indie film financing, the female gaze, and unconscious bias. The panels are free to attend.
Exciting and highly-anticipated documentaries are to be screened as well, including Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, and Southwest of Salem: The San Antonio Four. These and other stories included in the slate demonstrate the festival's commitment to diversity, featuring stories by and about gay women, trans women, women of color, and women from all around the world.
The festival is dedicated to innovation as well, featuring three virtual reality experiential films within the lineup: Across the Line, which replicates the experience of a patient seeking an abortion; Clouds over Sidra, which let the viewer experience life at a refugee camp; and Waves of Grace, about an Ebola survivor who cares for orphaned children in Liberia.
Whether you're an aspiring female filmmaker or just a film lover, Athena Film Festival is killing it in regard to politically relevant and deeply entertaining programming. As far as things to do in NYC in February, it's a list-topper.