Three of the thirteen initial award-winners will accept their crystal Athena Awards later, including Winter's Bone writer-director Debra Granik and producer-writer Anne Rossellini, who will get theirs at Friday's screening (I'm doing the Q & A afterward) and Greenberg emerging actress and recent Barnard grad Greta Gerwig, who will accept hers Saturday when she participates in a Hollywood Conversation with Vanity Fair's Leslie Bennetts.
As for me, I told the Barnard crowd that I've worked at too many places to name, including a bi-monthly, monthly, weekly and finally a daily. Now I work 24/7: I've never worked harder in my life, and I'm exhausted---but exhilarated. Most of these jobs were not an available option to the women in my family who came before me. Even my mother, who was the first female reporter at the Cornell Sun, took up the family profession: school teacher, which was the most realistic career choice for smart women back then. My inspiration was trailblazing film journalist Aljean Harmetz (The Making of the Wizard of Oz, The Making of Casablanca, On the Road to Tara), Hollywood correspondent for The New York Times for twelve years. She took me under her wing when I first arrived in Hollywood from New York in my late 20s, a little green. She's been a mentor and friend ever since. I can't thank her enough.
Other films to be screened this weekend include feminist media expose Miss Representation (which was recently acquired by OWN), BBC's Mo, starring Julie Walters as Mo Mowlam, the no-nonsense Brit politician who brokered the Good Friday Peace Agreement, and National Geographic's Desert Flower (March 18), which is based on the worldwide bestseller and stars Liya Kebede as supermodel Waris Dirie (pictured above). Athena has also slated three shorts programs, including 12 features and documentaries, all directed by women.
Kudos to the two women who organized the Fest: Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies director Kathryn Kolbert and Women and Hollywood's Melissa Silverstein.