the magazine of the columbia daily spectator
May 1 2013
Mmm, baby: The very best in food porn
April 27 2013
Alternatives to Butler
April 19 2013
Red Bull and relaxation
April 17 2013
Back to the kitchen: A short journey through sexist pop culture
April 12 2013
Bikinis and big booties, y’all
April 8 2013
Azealia Banks Did What?
April 5 2013
More stories from Columbia’s military veterans
April 3 2013
Sing, O Muse, of some sappy story
April 1 2013
Missed the Cliterary Open Mic? Check out the highlights here
March 29 2013
Sex & Low Beach
From February 10 to 13, Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies and the group Women in Hollywood will collaborate to create the first annual Athena Film Festival. The festival seeks to be an interactive weekend that addresses issues of female empowerment through film production—featuring both the works of female filmmakers and films about women. The Eye sat down with Kathryn Kolbert, the festival’s cofounder to discuss how the festival will affect the future of female leadership at Barnard.
Can you tell us a bit about your job?
Well, I am the director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies and came to Barnard 16 months ago to launch a new center about women’s leadership. I love being at Barnard and creating a center for students, a training center for those interested in leadership education. Most importantly, this week, we are launching the inaugural film festival celebrating women’s leadership through film, and I am so excited about reaching this new level of female leadership and empowerment.
Tell me about the festival. How did you come up with the idea for it?
The festival idea came out of a party I went to that was welcoming a filmmaker to New York, and there was a room full of extraordinary filmmakers, all with the same story to tell. Women’s films were not getting proper recognition, and women were making films in the minority. It seemed a great marriage to make a festival at a school that is empowering to women. There is no other female film festival like this in New York City—we are highlighting the strength and stories of women filmmakers, rather than just showing the films. The most important thematic draw is that we are showing the stories of women leaders who used their moxy to make a difference in this world, and also created really spectacular pieces of art along the way.
What can you tell me about the structure of the festival and the films in it?
I’m actually quite struck by the variation and breadth of films we have in this year’s festival. We have about 30 programs, which include panel discussions and a variety of films, including fictions, shorts, and documentaries.
The films will run from Friday night, where we have three great offerings, such as Desert Flower, about a Somalian woman discovered in a McDonald’s who became a supermodel. In addition, the star of a movie about female genital mutilation will actually be at the festival on Friday night.
Starting at noon on Saturday and Sunday, we have films going all afternoon and through the evening. One movie, titled Real Women Have Curves, starring America Ferrera of ABC’s Ugly Betty, is playing for free, and the director will actually be coming to speak on a panel. It’s a handful of interesting people and panels and films, all with really one goal—to highlight the female voice.
Given that you work in the Athena Center and devote much of your time to bolstering the opportunities Barnard women have, how do you feel that this year’s festival contributes to those opportunities? What effect do you see this film festival, and the provocative films you mentioned earlier, having on female empowerment?
I really believe in the phrase “You can’t be what you can’t see.” I want to give a new perspective of what makes a good leader and give pictures of women playing those critical roles. The Athena Center does not only help our students excel and collaborate to lead, but this festival will be there to inspire them as well in a more visual and artistic way.
What do you see in the future of the festival?
We are not making any decisions until we see the success of this film festival, but there has been a huge amount of interest, which is incredibly fascinating to me. So we’ll see how this year goes, and take it from there. But I am very excited about it all.
Why should people in the Columbia community attend the festival?
It’s a very inexpensive, free weekend before Valentine’s Day. So grab your guy or gal, bring him here, and watch a free movie. There will also be a lot of conversations, and I hope it will generate a conversation on campus. This film festival is especially powerful because it creates this open dialogue. The experience of watching a film, talking about it, walking out with people who are seeing the next film, and continuing the conversation is an incredible thing to do.
We're looking for comments that are interesting and substantial. If your comments are excessively self-promotional, or obnoxious you will be banned from commenting. Consult the comment FAQ and legal terms.
© 2011, The Eye :: Spectator Publishing Company, Inc.