The Athena Film Festival is thrilled to announce writer Sarah Granger as the recipient of the inaugural Loreen Arbus Foundation Fellowship. Launched this year in partnership with The Loreen Arbus Foundation, this fellowship will support the participation of one writer with disabilities’  in the Athena Film Festival Writers lab and six months of ongoing mentorship following the conclusion of the lab.

Part of Athena’s Creative Development Program, the Athena Writers Lab is a three-day workshop for emerging writers that provides storytellers with creative guidance, training, industry access, and a valuable supportive network. Lab participants are working on a script that features a woman or women characters in a leadership role or position at the center of the story.

The establishment of the Loreen Arbus Fellowship marks an important milestone in Athena’s work to advance a more inclusive industry and provide mentorship, guidance, and support to individuals from traditionally underrepresented communities in film. 

“Our goal at Athena has always been to uplift the voices of marginalized filmmakers and increase the diversity of representation in Hollywood,” said Melissa Silverstein, Artistic Director and co-founder of the Athena Film Festival. “We are thrilled to partner with The Loreen Arbus Foundation to launch a dedicated fellowship for disabled screenwriters. It is through partnerships like these that we will be able to re-shape the industry and create new opportunities for storytellers from all backgrounds."

The inaugural Fellow, Sarah Granger, is participating in the Fall Athena Writers Lab with her script, White Hat, which tells the story of a scrappy, female-led team of cybersecurity experts entering the male dominated world of ethical hacking startups. On the brink of losing their funding, they chase a long shot government deal in an attempt to show investors, prospects, competitors, and the media that they have what it takes. 

Sarah will be paired with a writing mentor who will help Sarah refine and advance her project for six months following the conclusion of the Athena Writers Lab. 

“I’m incredibly grateful to The Athena Writers Lab and to the Loreen Arbus Foundation for this unique opportunity to further develop my script in the coming months,” said Sarah. “With less than half of one percent of film and television writers identifying as women with disabilities, it can feel disheartening to even try to make it through the door. Thanks to programs like The Athena Film Festival supporting underrepresented creatives, we have the chance to get more voices heard and to show the world more nuanced, authentic perspectives, enriching countless lives through our stories.”

Athena is proud to partner with the Loreen Arbus Foundation to elevate writers with disabilities and to help advance their projects to the next level. 

For a complete list of writers in the 2023 Fall Athena Writers Lab, click here. 

About Sarah Granger
Sarah Granger is a writer and producer with a background in technology and media. She focuses on dramas and genre projects grounded in STEM - sci-fi and supernatural. The daughter of a paralyzed polio survivor, Sarah strives to include stories of people with visible and invisible disabilities.

Sarah's feature, pilot, and short screenplays have been recognized in notable competitions and festivals. She is credited with writing, directing and co-producing what was likely the world's first cyberpunk stage play. A product of the Midwest, Sarah grew up in Kansas City and studied film and screenwriting at the University of Michigan before settling in California.

In 2006, Sarah sustained pelvic nerve damage while giving birth, leading to permanent neuralgia—and a pivot to writing, first as a journalist and author, and then as a screenwriter in 2018. Her feature screenplay, The Pain-Free Day, was selected as one of eight juried scripts on the 2020 Disability List curated by The Black List and the WGA Writers with Disabilities Committee. Her scripts have been recognized in multiple competitions and she participated in the 2021 RespectAbility Entertainment Lab and 2022 Stowe Story Lab.

As a journalist, she has contributed to LA Weekly, Inverse, SFGate, Slate, and The Huffington Post. Sarah's book, The Digital Mystique, was published by Seal Press in 2014 and became an Amazon bestseller. She has been a featured speaker at South by Southwest, Exceptional Women in Publishing, and the Writing for Hollywood Summit. She has also been a guest on CBS News, Good Morning America, ABC News, NBC and NPR.

About The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College
Over the past fourteen 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. Through our Creative Development Program, we are bolstering the pipeline of creatives who are telling these stories and fostering a network of women in film.

The Athena Film Festival is a joint project of Barnard College’s Athena Center for Leadership and Women and Hollywood. The festival’s founding sponsor is the Artemis Rising Foundation and its CEO, Regina K. Scully.

About The Loreen Arbus Foundation
The Loreen Arbus Foundation passionately supports a broad scope of interests including people with disabilities and other minorities, advocacy for women and girls, gender and racial equality in the media/the arts, animal rights, and scientific and medical research.The Foundation has established and funds many scholarships that both enhance and elevate social consciousness around key societal issues. Loreen Arbus holds the trailblazing distinction of being the first woman to head programming for a U.S. network, a feat accomplished twice (both at Showtime and Cable Health Network/Lifetime).