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Athena Film Festival

The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College in New York City is a weekend of inspiring films that tell the extraordinary stories of fierce and fearless female leader from all walks of life – stories of ambition, courage, and resilience.  We amplify the voices and stories of strong, bold women, curating a public discourse on gender equality, and changing the cultural conventions surrounding leadership.


Over the last nine years, the Festival has welcomed more than 35,000 people from all over the world to 200+ screenings. This past year we screened 46 films including 17 features, 13 documentaries, and 16 shorts. We welcomed distinguished guests including Billie Jean King, J.J. Abrams, Lena Dunham, Amma Asante,  Barbara Kopple, and Bridget Everett among many others.


As a key part of our educational mission, we offer a wide range of educational programs including panels, workshops, and masterclasses for filmmakers, labs for film and TV writers in New York and Los Angeles, and a works-in-progress showcase for female documentary filmmakers.


Our signature program, the Athena List, is an annual slate of between 3-5 screenplays with female leaders that have yet to be made into films. Now in its 5th year, several Athena List scripts have been produced or are in production. For example, Athena List finalist, Little Pink House, written and directed by Courtney Balaker and starring Catherine Keener, opened the 2017 festival and was released in the spring of 2018.  Athena List winner, On the Basis of Sex, based on the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, directed by Mimi Leader and starring Felicity Jones as a young RBG, will be released on December 25, 2018.

As the only film festival specifically focused on women’s leadership, the Athena Film Festival provides a forum for dialogue about and an opportunity to showcase what it means to be a powerful woman today, inspiring women and girls in the process.  We engage with community partners to reach diverse audiences and ensure that we are connecting with families and youth in the Morningside Heights neighborhood and across New York City.

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