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Lunafest: Film festival by, for and about women heads to UConn

By Zarrin Ahmed
On April 15, 2014

  • Kathy Fischer, associate director of the Women’s Center introduces Lunafest before an audience in the Student Union theater. ALEX SFERRAZZA/The Daily Campus

At the Student Union Theater on Tuesday evening, stories of hardships, magic, triumphs and failures were all tied together by one theme: women. Lunafest, a collection of films, is made for, by and about women.
Established in 2000 by LUNA, makers of the Whole Nutrition Bar for Women, Lunafest displays the work of women filmmakers with "intelligent, funny, and thought-provoking themes." The single annual event has grown into a nationwide project, with over 150 North American screenings held each season. The nine award-winning short films are compiled into a traveling film festival called Lunafest.
This isn't the first time Lunafest has been hosted at UConn. This year, junior Lisa Vickers hosted the film festival in coordination with the Women's Center. All of the proceeds from the tickets, which ranged between $5 and $10, will go to the Breast Cancer Fund and the Women's Center.
There was an earlier screening of the film at noon. Before the beginning of the second film screening, raffle tickets were handed out to each attendee, while bags of popcorn, organized by the UConn Dining Services, were distributed as well.
Vickers first introduced herself and explained what Lunafest was and how it came to be. She then thanked all the supporters of the program, which include the Women's Center, UConn Alumni Association, the Mansfield OB/GYN and the League of Women Voters of Northeastern Connecticut.
"Don't I deserve to be the hero in my own [game]?" she said.
To kick off the film, freshman Natalia Kostenko performed a poem that centered around the digital life of a childhood, but more importantly, fitting into gender roles as a young girl.
The opening of Lunafest began like any other film-with the rating. In between videos and images, the rating of the film ranged from Q for Quirky to D for Daring. Amongst these, the collection of films was dedicated to keywords like uplifting, smart, strong, happy, connection and community.
"Granny's Got Game" by Angela Gorsica Alford was the first short film of the series, which was centered around women who were over 70 years old and playing on a basketball team together. Even with weaknesses like polio and breast cancer, these ladies have a passion for basketball.
"Never instigate, but protect yourself," one of the women in the film said.
"Flying Anne" is the story about a young girl with Tourette's syndrome. Despite her physical quirks, which include twirling to the right and licking things, she takes flight to navigate life with her tics. The film shows how her fear of rejection and misunderstanding from her classmates and her life at home with her sisters.
The first two films were documentaries, but the next short film was an animation called "Sidewalk." It featured a little girl walking to school, and followed her through transitions in her life, especially with the changes in her body. The filmmaker, Celia Bullwinkel, took the crowd through many emotions in a short amount of time: at times the crowd laughed, but at other times, everyone was very quiet.
"First Match" was the story of a determined high school girl who prepares for her first co-ed wrestling match. It showed intimate glimpses into her interactions with her peers and her father, displaying bravery and strength even through embarrassment and isolation.
"Maria of Many" told the story of one immigrant female worker. "Sound Shadows" was narrated by a blind woman, and the story was told with shapes created by sounds. "Date with Fate" was a humorous short about blind dating. "Running Dry" centered on a woman impacted by economic hardship in Athens and the people she encounters and helps in one day.
The last film, titled "Tiny Miny Magic," followed the story of Sam and her exchange of gifts with her mailman through the mailbox.
Each of the films celebrated life in all of its forms and with all of its setbacks. They offered perspectives on everything from childhood and puberty to adulthood, from disability and discouragement to vision and triumph, from the desperation of struggles to the fulfillment of compassion. All of it, created by women, and about women, for women.

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