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2022 Athena Film Festival lineup - Master directed by Mariama Diallo
Regina Hall in Master directed by Mariama Diallo

The 12th annual Athena Film Festival (AFF) at Barnard College will take place as a hybrid event, running in-person from March 11 to March 13, 2022 on the Barnard campus and virtually from March 11 to March 20, 2022. The annual festival will include film screenings, in-depth conversations and panels with filmmakers and industry experts, a series of programs that support the pipeline of women creatives, and a wide variety of events focused on celebrating and amplifying the stories of bold, courageous women leaders.

AFF will open with Mariama Diallo’s debut feature, MASTER, which she also wrote; the film stars Regina Hall, Amber Gray, and Zoe Renee. Three women strive to find their place at an elite and historical Northeastern university. When anonymous racist attacks target a Black freshman — who insists she is being haunted by ghosts of the school’s past — each woman must determine where the real menace lies. The film will screen in Barnard’s Diana Event Oval on Friday, March 11, with Diallo attending for a post-screening Q&A.

THE JANES, directed by Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes, will have its New York Premiere as the festival’s Spotlight film on Saturday, March 12. The filmmakers will attend for a post-screening Q & A, followed by a panel on reproductive rights. The film tells the legendary story of the seven women who were arrested and charged in a police raid on Chicago’s South Side in the spring of 1972. The accused were part of a clandestine network that, using code names, blindfolds, and safe houses to protect their identities and their work, built an underground service for women seeking safe, affordable, illegal abortions. They called themselves Jane.

Additional selections from the narrative program include the New York premiere of DEADLY CUTS, written & directed by Rachel Carey; well as screenings of THE JUSTICE OF BUNNY KING, directed by Gaysorn Thavat, NINJABABY, directed by Yngvild Sve Flikke, and QUEEN OF GLORY, directed by Nana Mensah; and a 20th anniversary screening of REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES, directed by Patricia Cardoso.

The documentary lineup will include the U.S. premiere of IDA LUPINO: GENTLEMEN AND MISS LUPINO, directed by Clara Kuperberg and Julia Kuperberg; the New York premieres of I AM BELMAYA, directed by Sue Carpenter, Belmaya Nepali and KILI BIG, written & directed by Ida Joglar; as well as screenings of PURE GRIT, directed by Kim Bartley and STRONG FEMALE LEAD, directed by Tosca Looby.

Shorts include the U.S. premieres of COLD BEDS (LIS FROIDS), written and directed by Laëtitia Martinucci, and MILITANT MOTHER, written and directed by Carmen Pollard; as well as the New York premieres of GIRLSBOYSMIX, written and directed by Lara Aerts, IN ACCORDANCE WITH, directed by Sarah Ema Friedland and Alessandra Lacorazza, LITTLE SPARKS, directed by Denali Tiller, REBYRTH, written & directed by Cydney Tucker, SINCE YOU ARRIVED, MY HEART STOPPED BELONGING TO ME, written and directed by Erin Semine Kökdil, and TARCILA: INDIGENOUS SOLUTIONS TO CLIMATE CHANGE FROM PERU, written and directed by Sarah Kuck.

The festival’s panel discussions will investigate and address the most pressing issues that confront society today. These panels will include Accessibility is a Right, Not the Newest Hollywood Trend; Let’s Talk About Sets: How Intimacy Coordinators Are Making Sets Safer; Thinking Beyond the Binary: Should Gendered Categories Still Exist?; Political Leadership; The Future of Latinx Stories in Hollywood; What is the Next Phase for Reproductive Rights?, and Pushing Boundaries in a World Full of Limits: A Conversation About The Challenges of Creating Entertainment Today.

2022 Athena Film Festival Lineup


The Conductor
Director: Bernadette Wegenstein
Writers: Stefan Fauland, Bernadette Wegenstein
Producer: Annette Porter

Leonard Bernstein’s protege Marin Alsop reveals how she smashed the glass ceiling to become an internationally renowned conductor.

Deadly Cuts
*New York Premiere*
Writer/Director: Rachel Carey
Producers: Liz Gill, Auveen Lush, Ciara O’Sullivan

A black comedy set in a working-class Dublin hair salon where the stylists become accidental vigilantes and community heroes as they take on the gang members and gentrifiers threatening their community.

Director/Writer: Holly Morris
Producers: Michael Kovnat, Jill Mazursky, Holly Morris, Eleanor Wilson

A team of women from the Western and Arab world makes a bid to reach the North Pole. This unprecedented expedition navigates open leads of water, the specter of polar bears, and -40 degree temperatures in an extraordinary story of resilience and global citizenry.

*Alfred P. Sloan STEM Showcase
FANNY: The Right to Rock
Director/Writer: Bobbi Jo Hart
Producers: Bobbi Jo Hart, Robbie Hart

Meet one of the most important rock bands that you’ve never heard of. Their lead guitarist could shred. Their musicianship and songwriting were stellar. They were embraced by rock royalty, released five critically-acclaimed albums with Top 40 charted songs, but never broke through. Oh, and they were women. FANNY: The Right to Rock reveals the fascinating, untold story of a phenomenal band that almost became the “female Beatles.”

I Am Belmaya
*New York Premiere*
Directors: Sue Carpenter, Belmaya Nepali
Writers: Sue Carpenter, Kat Reynolds
Producer: Sue Carpenter

An inspirational tale of rebellion, courage and hope in patriarchal Nepal. Silenced and subjugated for most of her life, uneducated Belmaya takes up the movie camera to tell her story.

Ida Lupino: Gentlemen and Miss Lupino
*US Premiere*
Writers/Directors/Producers: Clara Kuperberg, Julia Kuperberg

Ida Lupino was the only woman director in Hollywood in the late 1940s. She made movies about women, tackling such risky subjects as rape, bigamy, and abortion. For two decades, the Directors Guild of America was made up of 1,300 men and “Miss Lupino.”

The Janes
*Spotlight Film*
*New York Premiere*
Directors: Directors: Tia Lessin, Emma Pildes
Producers: Emma Pildes, Daniel Arcana, Jessica Levin

In the spring of 1972, police raided an apartment on the South Side of Chicago. Seven women were arrested and charged. The accused were part of a clandestine network. Using code names, blindfolds, and safe houses to protect their identities and their work, they built an underground service for women seeking safe, affordable, illegal abortions. They called themselves Jane.
*Will be released on HBO later this year

The Justice of Bunny King
Director: Gaysorn Thavat
Writers: Sophie Henderson, Gregory King, Gaysorn Thavat
Producer: Emma Slade

A triumph over adversity tale about women fighting their way back from the bottom of society.

Kili Big
*New York Premiere*
Director/Writer: Ida Joglar
Producers: Sam Kretchmar, Ida Joglar

A group of plus-sized women from around the world attempt to climb the tallest peak in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro.

*Opening Night *
Director/Writer: Mariama Diallo
Producers: Joshua Astrachan, Brad Becker-Parton, Andrea Roa

Three women strive to find their place at an elite Northeastern university as old as the country. When anonymous racist attacks target a Black freshman — who insists she is being haunted by ghosts of the school’s past — each woman must determine where the real menace lies.
*Will be released in theaters and on Prime Video globally on March 18, 2022

Director: Yngvild Sve Flikke
Writers: Johan Fasting, Yngvild Sve Flikke, Inga Sætre
Producer: Yngve Sæther

Astronaut, forest keeper, cartoonist: 23-year-old Rakel can imagine herself as lots of things, but not a mother. So when she finds out she’s almost seven months pregnant, her notebook fills up with depictions of the “Ninjababy, who thinks it can just hide in there, have a good time, and sneak out nine months later.” After her drawings come to life as an animated fetus in a bandit mask, Ninjababy becomes a raucous and funny coming-of-age story.

In Norwegian, with English subtitles
Pure Grit
Director: Kim Bartley
Producers:Rachel Lysaght, Lesley McKimm

Chronicling three years in the life of a young Native American woman, Pure Grit is a thrilling and intimate tale of extreme bareback horse racing, young love and hope when all seems lost.

Queen of Glory
Director/Writer: Nana Mensah
Producers: Baff Akoto, Anya Migdal, Kelley Robins, Jamund Washington

Ghanaian-American Sarah is all set to abandon her Ivy League doctoral program to follow her married lover across the country when her mother dies suddenly and makes her the owner of a neighborhood bookshop in the Bronx.

Real Women Have Curves
*20th Anniversary Screening*
Director: Patricia Cardoso
Writers: Josefina Lopez, George LaVoo
Producers: Effie Brown, George LaVoo

In East Los Angeles, an 18-year-old is torn between her ambitions of going to college and the desires of her domineering mother for her to get married, have children, and oversee the small, rundown, family-owned textile factory.

Strong Female Lead
Director/Writer: Tosca Looby
Producer: Karina Holden

One in three Australian women experience discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Australia’s first and only female prime minister, Julia Gillard, was one of them.


Black Birth
Director: Haimy Assefa
Producer: Dominique Turner

Three expectant mothers, including the director, navigate the joys, fears, and complexity of Black motherhood in America.

Black Goat
Director/Writer: Tang Yi
Producers: Prabin Kumar Rawat, K Sab Pandey
Pasang gets her first period.
Change the Name
Director/Co-Producer: Cai Thomas
Co-Producer: Donald Conley

An intimate portrayal of Black youth organizing on the west side of Chicago, Change The Name follows a group of 5th graders from Village Leadership Academy as they embark on a campaign to rename Stephen A. Douglas Park after freedom fighters Anna Murray and Frederick Douglass. Over the course of the three-year grassroots campaign the students tackle bureaucratic Chicago Park District systems, underestimations of their capacity to make real change as well as a pandemic and global uprising.

Cold Beds Lits Froids
*US Premiere*
Director/Writer: Laëtitia Martinucci
Producer: Jonathan Hazan

After getting locked out, Mona, a young seasonal worker of Italian origin, tries to fight off the cold while looking for shelter.

*New York Premiere*
Director/Writer/Producer: Lara Aerts
Producers: Laura Verduijn

Why is it so important to be a boy or a girl?

God’s Daughter Dances Sin-ui Ttal-eun Chum-eul Chun-da
Director/Writer: Sungbin Byun
Producer: Suji Bong

A transgender female dancer, Shin-mi, gets a call from the Military Manpower Administration, to attend the Military Service Examination.

The Hairdresser La Coiffeuse
Director/Writer/Producer: Lorraine Price

In this short, poetic documentary Kathleen reflects upon her 31 years as a hairdresser for the terminally ill in palliative care.

In Accordance With
*New York Premiere*
Directors: Sarah Ema Friedland, Alessandra Lacorazza
Writer: Sarah Ema Friedland
Producers: Sarah Ema Friedland, Alessandra Lacorazza

A short science fiction film about the reality of access to abortion in the U.S.

It’s Very Common
Director/Writer/Producer: Megan Hess

The feel good miscarriage movie you didn’t know you needed.

Little Sparks
*New York Premiere*
Director: Denali Tiller
Producer: Rebecca Stern

Three children in the Bronx navigate the challenges of remote learning

Militant Mother
*US Premiere*
Director/Writer/Producer: Carmen Pollard
Producers: Lisa Jackson, Lauren Grant

Militant Mother tells the story of the women of a Vancouver housing project who took on the CNR to ensure that their kids had a safe route to school.

My Grandmother is an Egg 我的阿婆是一顆蛋
Director/Writer/Producer: Wu-Ching Chang

“As a child,” says the filmmaker, “my grandmother was given to be raised as a future daughter-in-law.” The film reflects upon women’s oppression and struggles for freedom.

Not the Science Type: Ciara
Director/Writer: Julio Palacio
Producer: Christine Arena

Dr. Ciara Sivels is a nuclear engineer with Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, and the first black woman to earn a Ph. D from the University of Michigan in nuclear engineering. It was her high school science teacher who first identified her ability in science and encouraged her to apply to MIT.

*New York Premiere*
Director/Writer/Producer: Cydney Tucker

A Black doula fights to save the lives of Black mothers as they journey through childbirth into parenthood.

The Shaman’s Apprentice Angakusajaujuq
Director: Zacharias Kunuk
Writers: Zacharias Kunuk, Jonathan Frantz
Producers: Neil Christopher, Nadia Mike, Jonathan Frantz

A young shaman must face her first test—a trip underground to visit Kannaaluk, The One Below, who holds the answers to why a community member has become ill.

Since you arrived, my heart stopped belonging to me
*New York Premiere*
Director/Writer/Producer: Erin Semine Kökdil

Central American mothers journey by bus through Mexico, searching for their children who migrated north towards the United States but disappeared en route.

Director/Producer: Laura Gamse
Writer: Susana

Despite the danger to herself and her family, former slaughterhouse worker Susana returns to the scene at night to care for animals on their way to the kill floor.

Tarcila: Indigenous Solutions to Climate Change from Peru
*New York Premiere*
Director/Writer: by Sarah Kuck
Producer: Leigh Newman-Bell

Quechua elder Tarcila Rivera Zea fights for Indigenous Rights to sovereignty and food security in the face of climate change.

To the Future, with Love
Director: Shaleece Haas
Writer: Hunter Pixel Jimenez
Producer: Shaleece Haas

Meet 19-year-old Hunter Pixel Jimenez, a nonbinary trans boy caught between the expectations of his Guatemalan immigrant family and his dreams of living “happy and gay” with his long-distance boyfriend.

You and Me Ana Wa Enti
Director/Writer: Alexandra Muhawi-Ho
Producers: Alexandra Muhawi-Ho, Polina Buchak, Camila Grimaldi, Alyssa DiMartino

33-year-old Amira struggles to find her place in between her Arab and American identities while living with and navigating her relationship with her culturally traditional, yet loving mother.

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