The Athena Film Festival is a production of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College and Women and Hollywood.
I felt so blessed to be a part of it.
I was unable to participate in the opening ceremony (Anishika was there representing) due to work conflict, but flew in straight from set in L.A. to NYC in time for the premiere of GASP. I was able to share the night with our lead actress, Anishika, my friends who are in NYC and one who flew in, as well as with 3 other film makers and a great audience. I had almost forgotten how much I love NYC and Brooklyn, and that I lived there at one time...it had been too long between visits. Thank you, Claes Lilja, director of the short film (that I had the pleasure of producing), STRONGER, for sharing his frequent flier miles and making the trip possible. As an added bonus, Claes changed my return flight making it possible to stay an extra day and visit more with my spirit nephew Mathias, witness the delicious parenting of Julie and Jason and go out to dinner with my spirit son, Sasha. The time flew by awfully fast...
On the day of the screening, I was very nervous about the how the audience might react and considered leaving the room when my short came on. Expressing my fears and my possible need to bail before hand to my family/friends and fairly new parents Julie Arenson and Jason Sypher (their incredibly articulate and brilliant child, Mathias, is 3 years old), caused me to have some ease about the situation. They both possess an unusually calm and accepting way about them~ Jason said something like, "well, that's OK. We'll stay and watch it for you. Don't worry about it if you have to leave...and if you change your mind and stay through the screening, that's good too..." Sitting next to Julie & Jason , with Anishika, Claes, Barnaby and Danny all there supporting, gave me the strength to sit through the screening and witness the audience reaction. My concerns about the audience reaction- fearing they would not laugh at the one laugh I wrote in, not cringing when I wanted them to, not cheering when I hoped for cheers, were set to rest. I am so glad I was there to witness their reaction and applause and that GASP was so well received!
Melissa hosted a Q&A afterward that included Oscar award nominee Sara Nesson, for her short documentary, Poster Girl (it's excellent- watch it and vote for her Academy voters!).
The audience asked intelligent questions and their praise inspired me to keep going.
I'm incredibly grateful for and proud of Melissa Silverstein for putting great action behind her encouraging words as one of the producers of the fest. I don't know if she realizes how helpful her blog is to women directors. We're not only encouraged by her observations, our feelings are validated. It's one thing to experience blatant sexism here and there while working in film and another to see the stats that support what we're experiencing. Knowing what we are dealing with & what we have to overcome, helps us. It's also great to know of the achievements of fellow female film makers and be informed when and where films directed by women or films that have developed female characters, are playing. Melissa and her partners at Barnard College brought us together to celebrate our achievements and continue dialogue about the process of film making from women's POVs. It brought us together in celebration.
I'm so grateful to everyone involved in the Athena film festival's great success.
GASP is my narrative directorial debut and the Athena Film Festival was my first screening at a festival.
It's been a great experience so far!