LUNAFEST by Minoti Vaishnav

11 May 2015 12:05 PM | Anonymous

I’ve always been fascinated by the entertainment industry. When my classmates in middle school wanted to grow up to become doctors and lawyers, I wanted to be a filmmaker. But being a female filmmaker is no easy feat – only about 5% of directors are women, and in 85 years of the Academy Awards, a woman has been nominated for a Best Director Oscar only four times.

I’ve always felt that a change needs to be made for women in media. So when I joined the Alliance for Women in Media, I was pleasantly surprised to find an organization that worked towards making a positive change in the industry. A place that not only works to develop the careers of women in media, but also to foster networking amongst the best in the business.

On April 28th, AWM SoCal partnered with LUNAFEST, a traveling film festival that spotlights the work of a diverse array of talented women filmmakers with intelligent, funny and thought-provoking themes. The event benefited the Breast Cancer Fund and the AWM SoCal Scholarship Program. The evening, aptly called “Chicks, Flicks and Fun” was hosted at the Skirball Cultural Center, with a reception and mixer to start the evening. Those of us setting up beforehand placed Luna bars around the room, as well as in carefully selected colorful gift-bags already housing CD’s and beauty products.

As 6:00pm rolled around, people started checking in - and the turnout was great! A number of women (and even a few men) came to the event to connect with each other and to watch some wonderful films. AWM’s mixers are always very welcoming. People meet each other for the first time, and within minutes they’re fostering a meaningful connection with each other. This is exactly what happened at “Chicks, Flicks and Fun” as well, where people mingled over delicious snacks and drinks.

As the clock struck 7:00, we entered the auditorium – raffle tickets in hand – and sat down in the purple seats of the Magnin Auditorium. The raffle included some great prizes, including gift cards from Tom’s Urban and LA Galaxy tickets! After the raffle, we settled in and watched eight great LUNAFEST short films.

Every film had something unique to offer. From a Muslim-American girl trying to make her high-school’s cheerleading squad in “Tryouts”, to the light short documentary “Lady Parts” that showcases an auto shop run by women in an industry dominated by men. From the humorous but important narrative in “Tits”, to the story of an all-woman mariachi band in “Flor de Toloache”. Then there was the beautiful paper-mache animation of “Miss Todd”, about the first woman in the world to design an airplane, and the uplifting and fun documentary “Viva”, about Viva Hamnell, the grandmother of punk. My favorites of the night were “Chicas Day”, about a mother-daughter relationship that’s surprisingly not about a mother and daughter at all, and “A Good Match”, a film that centers around a woman trying to keep a close friendship with her ex-boyfriends mother. Both films were very well structured from a writing perspective, which is what I most enjoyed about them.

After the screenings it was time to go outside and collect those colorful gift bags we’d so carefully put together. The event left everyone feeling inspired and motivated. Overall, it wasn’t just about watching the films and supporting a good cause. It was also about learning the journey of female filmmakers and watching compelling stories about women that everyone can relate to.

As I walked away from the Skirball Center that night, I felt a little bit better about those female director statistics. We’re making a change. The steps taken may be small ones, but they’re making a difference.

Click here to see a video recap.

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