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women in film

womeninfilm2Women’s issues hit the big screen at the Rio

Pop quiz: Name five hot-shot, female, Hollywood directors. Penny Marshall and … stumped? Me too. Sadly, the odds of watching a movie that was directed by a woman are slim.

In 2005, “only seven percent of film directors were women,” says Brooke Golden, director of LUNAFEST, a film festival that comes to the Rio Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 27. “Of the 250 top domestic Hollywood grossing films in 2005, women comprised only 17 percent of all the directors, producers, writers and cinematographers.” Those are alarming statistics for any woman trying to break into this boys’ club. But Golden and her pals at the company that fills us up with nutritious Luna bars have been making strides to change those statistics over the last six years, by hosting a traveling film festival that features movies about women, made by women.

On the last Saturday night of January, nine of these films will play at the Rio as a fundraiser for the national nonprofit Breast Cancer Fund and for a local nonprofit, WomenCARE.

womeninfilm3The films aren’t made by wannabes—they’re the real McCoys and many of them have had their works screened in numerous festivals. While you maybe haven’t heard a Sundance type of buzz about these nine films, they are likely worth taking a look at. They’re all shorts, clocking in between two minutes and 34 minutes, covering a range of topics that concern women: Muslim marriage, Chinese daughters, birth and beauty. “The festival celebrates women and our issues that we deal with,” says Kathy Ferraro from the Recreation Department at UC Santa Cruz.

Ferraro was involved with the team who introduced the community to the festival when it kicked off in 2000. At the time, her department oversaw the festival, and recently she handed over the reigns to Roberta Valdez, director of the UCSC Women’s Center. From there, Valdez is not only in charge of organizing the evening’s movies, but she’s also responsible for forking over 85 percent of the proceeds to WomenCARE, a local organization that offers non-medical services, resources and advocacy to women in our community who have cancer.

“The thing I really like about the LUNAFEST is that the films, even though [they’re short], are multicultural and from all over the world,” Valdez says.

womeninfilm5The festival is, like its movies, short. Nine films will play during the two-hour event. The lineup includes the titles: Top of the Circle, a five-minute short about the cycles of livelihood; Dear Talula, about a woman with breast cancer; Slip of the Tongue, about the female image; Breached, which tells a unique story of immigration; City Paradise about a Japanese woman who relocates to London and finds more than a few surprises; Mann Ke Manjeeré, which may be reminiscent of Not Without My Daughter; Plum Flower, about what happens when a Chinese family has yet another daughter; Kylie Goldstein—All American, the tale of a young Chinese girl who was adopted by Americans; and Agricultural Report, a story about a cow.

Annually, about 200 films are submitted to the festival from filmmakers across the world. A board of 20 Bay Area female film experts whittle down the submissions into the traveling festival, which goes out across the nation.

womeninfilm4“We want [people who attend] to laugh, be touched and to have their minds opened up to something new, or at the very least have a great conversation with their community members about something they experienced at LUNAFEST,” says Golden. And, that includes men in the audience. This isn’t a women’s only club.

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