Female filmmakers from as near as Halifax and as far as Texas will be showcased on April 23 at the 21st annual LUNAFEST – a film festival by women, for women. The proceeds will go towards supporting local women’s charities and other women in film.
Since the first LUNAFEST in 2001, more than 170 filmmakers have been showcased, with 2,700 screenings nationwide. Organizations across the world can apply to host a LUNAFEST festival in their community.
Soroptimist International of Cambridge, an organization that provides support and resources for women, is one of the region’s local groups that is hosting a virtual LUNAFEST.
Usually, the film festivals are held outdoors in the community, but with the pandemic, Soroptimist International of Cambridge has been screening its LUNAFEST virtually to viewers at home since 2020.
Dianne Long, the LUNAFEST Specialist for Soroptimist International of Cambridge, hopes to hold the film festival in person again next year. She misses the “wonderful buzz” that she would feel meeting new community members and old friends.
“There was a festive air about it. It was a social event as well as a film festival,” she said. “It’s much harder to create that feeling by yourself, or with a small group, but we are trying.”
Those who want to view the films from home can buy one ticket for $18, or household admission for two or more people for $23. The ticket proceeds will go towards the hosting organization, to continue providing support and resources to women and girls in the community.
In addition, the application fee for organizations to host goes towards Chicken & Egg Pictures, an organization that helps women in film.
Tickets can be purchased on the LUNAFEST website through Eventive, where an account must be created. To access the eight films when LUNAFEST begins on April 23, 12 p.m., return to the Eventive website.
Once the event starts, you will be given 48 hours to complete watching all the films. The films range from three to 18 minutes long.
Long’s favourite part about LUNAFEST is the selection of films screened each year – whether they vary in genre, art medium, or the relationship depicted.
“They are all powerful in their own way,” Long said. “Every year is different, but always interesting, thought-provoking, entertaining, and educational.”
Halifax-based filmmaker, Andrea Dorfman, has her 2020 film “How to Be at Home” screening at Lunafest this year. Her favourite part of LUNAFEST is that it allows her to give back to other female filmmakers through the proceeds donated to Chicken & Egg Pictures.
“As a filmmaker, you can really start to wonder if we’re all working in our own separate silos. Even if we want to be ‘part of the solution,’ it’s hard to know if we really are,” she said. “This is where LUNAFEST fits in – they can take our work and help get it out to an audience, while helping in each community it screens in.”
Texas-based filmmaker, Sharon Arteaga’s film “When You Clean a Stranger’s Home” is also playing at LUNAFEST this year. Arteaga enjoys submitting her films to LUNAFEST, not only because it gives her the chance to connect with an audience through her work, but because it contributes to organizations uplifting women.
“It’s just so many levels of meaningfulness that is just so life-giving – which is the reason I am a filmmaker in the first place,” she said.
LUNAFEST benefits communities by bringing films that aren’t “necessarily easy to see to a wider audience,” said Dorfman.
“I also think it is a great benefit to have the opportunity to see films from across the globe, that we might otherwise never have an opportunity to see,” Long said.
While LUNAFEST gives the opportunity for organizations to grow and communities to engage, it has an impact on the filmmakers as well.
“I get direct messages from viewers who connected with [my] film,” Arteaga said. “It just fills my heart and encourages me to keep fighting against the odds of this industry.”