Athena Film Festival (AFF) will open their 2018 edition on Thursday, February 22nd with BATTLE OF THE SEXES, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Emma Stone and Steve Carell star in this dramatic retelling of the legendary 1973 tennis match in which tennis star Billie Jean King faced off against 55-year-old former Wimbledon champion, Bobby Riggs who boasted that he could beat any woman player. Billie Jean King will participate in a post-screening conversation.
Prior to opening night, the festival will host a special presentation premiering the first episode of Season three of Lifetime’s critically-acclaimed series UnREAL.
The Centerpiece film, documentary MANKILLER, directed by Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, will screen on Saturday, February 24th. The documentary tells the tale of a true American legend, Wilma Mankiller (1945-2010), a community organizer who became Chief of the Cherokee Nation and defied all odds to make a difference for her people. The film will be followed by a conversation with director Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, and journalist and activist Gloria Steinem. Ann Hornaday from the Washington Post will moderate.
The festival will close on Sunday, February 25th with the Academy Award®-nominated THE POST, directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. In this thrilling drama, the Washington Post’s Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper (Meryl Streep) and Post editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) race to catch up with The New York Times’ publication of the Pentagon Papers, which expose a massive cover-up of government secrets about the Vietnam war.
Additional films announced include 9 TO 5, directed by Colin Higgins and starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin; PATTI CAKE$, directed by Geremy Jasper and starring Athena’s 2018 Inaugural Breakthrough Award honoree Bridget Everett and Danielle Macdonald ; THELMA, directed and co-written by Joachim Trier and co-written by Eskil Vogt; NORTH COUNTRY, directed by Niki Caro and starring Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Jeremy Renner, Woody Harrelson and Sissy Spacek; and the classic documentary MISS SHARON JONES!, directed by two-time Oscar® winner and 2018 Athena Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree, Barbara Kopple.
Additional panels include Master Class: Alexa Junge ’85 and Spotlight on Women and STEM, sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which will follow the screening of Bombshell, the Hedy Lamarr Story. This panel of illustrious filmmakers will focus on the stories of powerful women in STEM fields and discuss the challenges of bringing these rich, and sometimes complicated scientific stories to life on the big screen.
The festival will feature a program of narrative, documentary and short films, including: WONDER WOMAN, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot; LADY BIRD, the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig ’06 and AFF ’11 Honoree and starring Saoirse Ronan; MEGAN LEAVEY, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite and starring Kate Mara; WAITING FOR HASSANA, directed by Ifunanya Maduka; BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY, directed and written by Alexandra Dean; I AM EVIDENCE, directed by Trish Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir and produced by Mariska Hargitay; the New York City premiere of IT’S CRIMINAL, directed by Signe Taylor ’87; and the international premiere of MY YEAR WITH HELEN, directed by Gaylene Preston; FRONTIER, directed by Jillian Banner; and the New York premieres of AL IMAM, directed by Omar Al Dakheel; BEADS, directed by Rachel Byrd; CON MADRE, directed by Clancy McCarty; THE FAN directed by Mohammad Ghanefard and Ali Delkari, among others.
The 2018 Athena Film Festival Awardees include two-time Academy Award®-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple who will receive the Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award; BAFTA-winning writer and director Amma Asante who will receive the Athena Award; world-renowned cabaret artist and actress Bridget Everett who will receive the inaugural Breakthrough Award; and director, producer and screenwriter J.J. Abrams who will receive the Athena Leading Man Award. Awards will be presented at the Athena Film Festival Awards Ceremony on Friday, February 23rd.
The Athena Film Festival showcases films and TV series about strong, bold women leaders in real life and the fictional world; it is a weekend dedicated to elevating female voices and stories that inspire and empower a new generation of filmmakers and individuals. The eighth annual festival, co-founded by Barnard College’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies and Women and Hollywood, will take place February 22 to 25, 2018, at Barnard College in New York City.
FULL INFORMATION ON NEWLY ANNOUNCED FILMS AND PROGRAMS:
9 to 5
Director: Colin Higgins
Writer: Colin Higgins, Patricia Resnick
This office satire about three female secretaries—Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin—who decide to get revenge on their tyrannical, sexist boss was an instant classic. Featuring a depiction of women agitators well ahead of their time and a score that doubled as anthem, 9 to 5’s impact has resonated for the thirty-plus years since its release and remains iconic in 2017’s #MeToo era.
Director: Niki Caro
Writer: Michael Seitzman
This classic feature, based on a true story, centers on Josey Aimes who takes a job at a local iron mine in Minnesota in 1975. She and other female miners endure unyielding harassment from male co-workers, ranging from verbal taunts to pornographic graffiti and physical abuse. Ignoring advice from family and friends, Josey files a ground-breaking lawsuit and wins a landmark decision that is still protecting women today. Directed by Niki Caro, North Country’s all-star cast includes Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Jeremy Renner, Woody Harrelson and Sissy Spacek.
Battle of the Sexes – OPENING NIGHT FILM
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Emma Stone and Steve Carell star in this dramatic retelling of the legendary 1973 tennis match in which women’s tennis star Billie Jean King faced off against 55-year-old former Wimbledon champion, Bobby Riggs who boasted that he could beat any woman player. Riggs hyped the contest with a slew of misogynistic comments, including that “the best way to handle women is to keep them pregnant and barefoot.” In the period leading up to the match, King, a champion athlete and social justice pioneer, found herself beset with both personal and professional challenges as she sought to face her sexuality and fight for pay equity in tennis.
Patti Cake$ – Awardee Spotlight Film
Director and writer: Geremy Jasper
First-time writer/director Geremy Jasper showcases his music chops in this brash and bombastic story of unlikely rapper Patti “Killa P” Dombrowski. Breakout talent Danielle Macdonald plays Patti with the magnetism and stage presence of a seasoned musician, and is matched by the talents of the 2018 Athena Award winner Bridget Everett as Patti’s disillusioned mother, who missed her chance at stardom.
Director: Joachim Trier
Writers: Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt
Writer/director Joachim Trier crafts a haunting tale of Thelma (Eili Harboe) a shy college student who has just left her religious family in a small town Norway and finds herself intensely drawn to her classmate Anja (Kaya Wilkins). But in a surprising twist to this coming of age tale, first love and self-discovery arrive with uncontrollable seizures and supernatural powers, that forces her to confront the terrifying implications of her powers.
The Post – CLOSING NIGHT FILM
In this thrilling drama directed by Steven Spielberg, the Washington Post’s Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper (Meryl Streep) and Post editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) race to catch up with The New York Times’ publication of the Pentagon Papers, which expose a massive cover-up of government secrets about the Vietnam war that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. This movie shows the importance of the free press to the life of a democracy, but it’s also a very personal story about a woman who was trained to be a wife who becomes the main character in her own story. The Post is a movie about a woman who finds her voice and saves democracy in the process.
MANKILLER – CENTERPIECE FILM
Director: Valerie Red-Horse Mohl
Executive Producer: Gale Anne Hurd
MANKILLER examines the legacy of the formidable Wilma Mankiller, who defied all odds to become one of the most influential leaders in the United States. Mankiller overcame rampant sexism and personal challenges to emerge as the Cherokee Nation’s first woman Principal Chief in 1985. Through rare archival footage and intimate interviews with activists including Gloria Steinem, as well as with Wilma herself, MANKILLER gives us insight into how this remarkable woman successfully navigated through the minefield of bipartisan politics.
Miss Sharon Jones! – Awardee Spotlight Film
Director: Barbara Kopple
This documentary, directed by the two-time Oscar winner and 2018 Athena Honoree, Barbara Kopple, tells the stirring story of Sharon Jones, a true soul survivor who’s been called “the female James Brown”. The film follows Sharon Jones on an emotional journey as she battles cancer, struggles to keep her band together and mount a comeback show at New York’s Beacon Theater.
Join us for the premiere of the first episode of UnREAL, season 3, Lifetime’s critically-acclaimed series from A+E Studios. UnREAL takes place behind the scenes of the fictional dating competition show Everlasting, as the show’s producers manipulate the contestants to get the footage they need. Caitlin FitzGerald (“Masters of Sex,” “Rectify”) takes the reins in Season 3 as Everlasting’s female “suit
PANELS AND SPECIAL EVENTS
Master Class on Producing and Writing for Television: Alexa Junge – Sponsored by Stephens College
Come learn from Alexa Junge, a 1985 Barnard alumna, and accomplished showrunner, screenwriter, T.V. writer and producer whose credits include Friends, The West Wing, and Grace & Frankie.
Spotlight on Women and Stem – Sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Following the screening of Bombshell, the Hedy Lamarr Story, a panel of illustrious filmmakers will focus on the stories of powerful women in STEM fields, and discuss the challenges of bringing these rich, and sometimes complicated scientific stories to life on the big screen.