LUNAFEST comes to Florence

Out of the top 100 grossing films of 2018, only four percent had female directors, according to a report on women in TV and film by Martha Lauzen.

LUNAFEST began in 2000 and works with Chicken and Egg Pictures to put the spotlight on female filmmakers. Sponsored by Luna Bars, the festival is comprised of short films by women, for women and about women.

The Center for Women’s Studies at UNA and the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library have teamed up to bring LUNAFEST to Florence. The event will be Jan. 31 at the library beginning at 6 p.m.

“There’s been a lot of discussion over the last few years about needing more female voices in filmmaking, particularly in the roles of directing, producing, etc.,” said the library’s Programming and Publicity Coordinator Jennifer Keeton. “This collection of short films will provide a small sample of the types of stories that women are telling that may be missing from the films we usually see. Films explore narratives and themes that are just as important as the ones in the books you can check out (at the library), so it’s just as important for us to provide opportunities to view and discuss films.”

Coordinator of the Women’s Center Emily Horn-Kelley said she first heard of LUNAFEST at the University of Alabama.

“They have been doing it for years and it seemed like a worthwhile thing to do,” Horn-Kelly said. “We were looking for new programming ideas and I’ve wanted to do LUNAFEST for awhile and this year it worked out.”

Keeton said the library partners with the Women’s Center regularly, usually at least once a year, for a program or series related to women’s history or another topic specifically focused on women.

“When Emily Kelley and Dr. Lynne Rieff contacted me about LUNAFEST, it really was an automatic ‘yes,’” Keeton said. “They’re wonderful to work with. They always have valuable ideas and out ongoing partnership has brought about some great opportunities for our community to learn and engage on women’s issues. I always appreciate that they want to bring learning and cultural opportunities, not only to UNA students, but also the larger community, which is where the public library comes in.”

The festival will screen eight films which range from three minutes to 17 minutes. Horn-Kelley said other screenings, such as the one at the University of Alabama, sell tickets as a fundraiser, but the screening at the library will be free.

“There aren’t a lot of opportunities to see independent films and short films in Florence, especially in a shared audience setting,” Keeton said. “That’s why the UNA George Lindsey Film Festival is important, and why it’s important to bring events like LUNAFEST to Florence. These aren’t films you can just stream on Netflix, and even if you could, it’s not the same as experiencing them with an audience of your neighbors.”

Horn-Kelley said there will be a discussion after the viewing led by UNA film expert Brenna Wardwell.

Topics of the films range from a blind female drummer wanting to be in a rock band, to a parents’ daughter going to a school dance with a classmate, to an older woman deciding who to bring with her to eternity when she dies, to a director reflecting on her path to citizenship.

“We hope it puts a focus on films by women and will give some encouragement to young women filmmakers,” Horn-Kelley said. “We also hope it starts a conversation on the film topics because there are many.”

Horn-Kelley and Keeton want this to be an annual event in the community.

“We’ll see what the community response is,” Keeton said. “There is some cost involved, so it might depend on finding a sponsor who will help us make that happen. I know the library is always happy to be a venue for these types of community events.”

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