14th Annual Athena Film Festival Honors Marginalized Voices

From February 29-March 3, Barnard College hosted its 14th Annual Athena Film Festival, celebrating the voices of female, nonbinary, and gender expansive individuals. As this is my second year attending the festival, if last year indicated the caliber of film, I looked forward to exploring what this year’s festival had to offer.

A reception kicked off the festival with alumni and faculty alike milling and seething through a convening space in Barnard Hall. As I surveyed the room, certain films lingered in the mouths of the festival goers. Most notably, Fancy Dance (Erica Tremblay, 2023), a feature film following a Native American woman as she takes back her niece from her white grandparents. In the wake of the SCOTUS decision to uphold ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act), I will be interested in witnessing this display of indigenous bravery amidst constant cultural erasure.

Another piece that brought up some buzz was the short Someone You Know (Asha Dahya, 2023) followed directly by the Abortion Storytelling Panel. The short highlights the stories of three women as they recount their experience of getting an abortion later in their pregnancy. In this post-Roe climate, uplifting the narratives of body autonomy and incredible strength continue to expose the politicization of the US healthcare system.

The Athena Film Festival celebrates the voices of female, nonbinary, and gender expansive individuals.

After the reception, we were shepherded to the basement of the Diana Center and into The Event Oval. In this cavernous space, we beheld the New York premiere of Copa 71 (Rachel Ramsay and James Erskine, 2023). Commencing this year’s festival, this rousing documentary highlights the 1971 Women’s World Cup (which FIFA refused to officially recognize). Despite the event taking place 50 years prior, the energy of the audience mirrored that of current soccer games: groaning when the goalie narrowly saved a shot, cringing at gnarly injuries, and cheering with fists held high when their team scored a goal. This formerly erased event garnering 110,000 spectators lives on in this inspiring and frankly hilarious film.

A panel followed the screening including the CEO of the New York Liberty, Keia Clarke, member of the US Soccer Foundation, Kyra Tiranna Barry, and soccer writer for The Atlantic, Steph Yang. During their brief talk back, they discussed the history of women’s sport and how much farther we have to go. Steph particularly highlighted the price gouging of parking spaces at Kansas City Current’s new stadium, a practice frequently used at male sporting events. To quote Audre Lorde, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” 

Rather than conform to the late capitalist patriarchal structures, a more gender inclusive future for women’s sports includes accessibility and ever expanding resources for all who wish to partake in this community building pastime. 

If you missed this year’s Athena Film Festival, many of the films will be streaming later this year and some have already been released on the platforms.

© Taylor Beckman (3/5/24) – Special for FF2 Media ®


Learn more about the Athena Film Festival on their website.

Watch the trailer for Copa 71.

Read a SWAN of the Day feature on Erica Tremblay by FF2’s Julia Lasker.

Check out We Testify an organization uplifting the voices of people who have abortions.

Read about Your Fat Friend, a film screened at the festival, in an opinion piece by FF2’s Taylor Beckman.


Featured and bottom image from this year’s Athena Film Festival. Photos courtesy of Taylor Beckman.

Tags: Abortion Storytelling, Asha Dahya, Athena Film Festival, Audre Lorde, Barnard College, Copa 71, Erica Tremblay, Fancy Dance, Female Filmmakers, ICWA, Keia Clarke, Kyra Tiranna Barry, Native American Artists, New York City, Nonbinary filmmakers, Rachel Ramsay, Roe V. Wade, Someone You Know, Steph Yang, SWANs, Taylor Beckman, Women's Soccer

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Taylor Beckman (she/her/hers) is a sister, daughter, friend, avid baker, and adorer of Regency-era British television shows. After graduating from Muhlenberg College with degrees in both Psychology and Theatre (acting and directing concentrations), she flew to Europe where she performed as a theatre artist, teaching English in Belgium and France. Once she returned to the States, Taylor pursued a career in acting until the pandemic happened and she changed the trajectory of her life. Taylor is now a student at NYU getting her Masters in Drama Therapy where she hopes to combine her love for theater with the inherent therapeutic qualities that stories possess. When she isn't writing theatrical reviews or profile pieces for FF2, Taylor can be found drinking mint tea and reading a Charlotte Brontë novel. Thank you to Jan and the FF2 Media team for the opportunity to critically engage with people and the art form of performance.
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