With all the buzz about the Oscars and Sundance, WVFC was thrilled to learn about this week’s Athena Film Festival, which opens tonight and will feature, at New York’s Barnard College, many films usually missing from awards season.

Not that the festival, co-sponsored by Women and Hollywood, ignores the awards entirely: after its opening program, a “Celebration of Women’s Leadership,” one of the first films to be screened is Best Picture nominee Winter’s Bone. And among the conference panels, chaired by Women and Hollywood’s Melissa Silverstein, is one on “The Bechdel Test,” about the marginalization of women in Hollywood films. But most of the festival is devoted to work that does just the opposite. Among its dozens of features and shorts, which will be accompanied by panels, presentation, and other special programs, are:

  • Mo, BBC’s powerful biopic featuring award-winning actress Julie Walters. The Telegraph UK praised Walters’  “brilliant portrayal of an earthy, eccentric, stoical woman” as Mo Mowlam, the charismatic politician who in 1998 helped broker the historic Good Friday Agreement, a crucial step in the Northern Ireland peace process.

Those attending The Athena Festival tomorrow through Sunday can catch other films we’ve awaited. We noticed  Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s Miss Representation, about the relationship between media sexism and our lack of equal representation in government, when it screened at Sundance, and have already been    putting together a discussion of Desert Flower, Sherry Horman’s multifaceted exploration of fashion and African feminism. (Look for that piece on WVFC next month, when Desert Flower kicks off its theatrical run.) WVFC will have two reporters attending the festival, but if you go, let us know what you thought about about it in the comments below.

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