Athena Film Festival
You can’t be what you can’t see. — Marian Wright Edelman
Films drive culture and influence how people feel, think, and perceive the world around them. For too long, the voices and stories of women have been overlooked. Over the past ten years, the Athena Film Festival has established itself as the premier festival dedicated to celebrating and elevating women’s leadership. Our festival highlights films showcasing women’s leadership from underexplored perspectives; women leading in all places and spaces who are resisting and refuting preconceived notions of all they can be and do.
Year-round, through our Parity Pipeline Programs, we work to get these kinds of stories told in the first place. These programs include panels, workshops, and masterclasses taught by industry professionals, a works-in-progress showcase for documentaries directed by women, screenwriting labs for emerging women writers in film and television in NYC and LA, our signature program, the Athena List, an annual slate of screenplays with women leaders that have yet to be made into films, as well as a range of activities to build community among Athena filmmakers.
The 2022 Athena Film Festival will take place in March 2022.
The festival is a joint initiative between Barnard’s Athena Center and Women and Hollywood. The Artemis Rising Foundation and its CEO Regina K. Scully is the festival’s founding sponsor. Read more about our founders below.
Melissa Silverstein, Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Athena Film Festival
In addition to her role with the Athena Film Festival, Silverstein is the founder and editor of Women and Hollywood, one of the most respected sites for issues related to women and film as well as other areas of pop culture. Silverstein recently published her first book, In Her Voice: Women Directors Talk Directing, which is a compilation of over 40 interviews that have appeared on Women and Hollywood. Her work has been featured on CNN and BBC as well as in Newsweek, Salon, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, The New York Times, and many other publications.
Silverstein has conducted social media marketing campaigns and events for a variety of films including My Week With Marilyn, The Iron Lady, Gloria Steinem: In Her Own Words, Dancing Across Borders, and more. Formerly the founding project director for The White House Project and the Chief of Staff at the Ms. Foundation for Women, Silverstein also has worked on several high profile public education campaigns including Take Our Daughters to Work Day and the Pro-Choice Public Education Project. She is on the advisory boards of the Women’s Media Center and Women, Action & Media (WAM!) and is a member of NY Women in Film and TV.
Kathryn Kolbert, Co-Founder, Athena Film Festival
Kathryn Kolbert is a Co-Founder of the Athena Film Festival and served as the Founding Director of the Athena Center from 2009 - 2018. A public-interest attorney, journalist, and executive in the not-for-profit world, Kathryn has a depth of experience in collaborative leadership, educational programming, and civil-rights advocacy. She has been recognized by The National Law Journal as one of the "100 Most Influential Lawyers in America,” and by The American Lawyer as one of 45 public-interest lawyers “whose vision and commitment are changing lives." In 1992, Kolbert argued the landmark case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey before the U.S. Supreme Court and has been credited with saving Roe v. Wade with what CNN’s Legal Correspondent Jeffrey Toobin has called "one of the most audacious litigation strategies in Supreme Court history.”
Before joining Barnard, Kolbert was the President and CEO of People For the American Way and People For the American Way Foundation, two of the nation’s premier civil rights organizations. During her tenure, People For the American Way's Political Action Committee was cited by the National Journal as the most successful advocacy group of the 2008 election cycle.
For ten years, Kolbert oversaw a program on law and American life at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center. She was the executive producer of Justice Talking, an award-winning public radio program distributed by NPR, and also directed an educational website called JusticeLearning.org, which received a Webby Award in 2005. Before she became a journalist, Kathryn enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a public-interest attorney specializing in women’s reproductive rights. From 1992 to 1997, she directed domestic litigation and public policy programs for the Center for Reproductive Rights, where she was a co-founder and vice president. She has also served as the State Coordinating Counsel of the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project in New York and as a Staff Attorney with the Women's Law Project and Community Legal Services in Philadelphia. A graduate of Cornell University, College of Arts and Science and Temple University School of Law, Kolbert has lectured at colleges and universities across the nation and is a frequent commentator on leadership, constitutional and women’s rights issues in the national media.