The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College celebrates extraordinary films from across the globe that tell the stories of fierce and fearless women leaders. The curated program includes Academy Award nominated films, award winning features and documentaries, NY premieres, shorts, and so much more.

An Athena film is one of defiance, survival, breakthrough and radical joy that comes from living as yourself. There are many ways to be a leader and there are even more ways to be a leader as a woman. Leadership was defined, and continues to be defined by men. Athena films challenge that narrative and show how women work in and outside of this traditional definition to change what leadership looks like.

Now in its 14th year, the festival is a project of the Athena Center for Leadership at Barnard College and Women and Hollywood.

AFF Documentary Pitch Program

The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College facilitates an annual AFF Documentary Pitch Program (formally named the Works in Progress) as part of our Creative Development Program to support filmmakers.

The program is an intensive pitch training and storytelling strengthening opportunity that will take place during January and February 2024 and will culminate with the pitch during the Athena Festival on Friday, March 1, 2024. Each filmmaking team will work with Peabody Award-winning filmmaker/teacher/Co-Founder of Chicken & Egg Picture, Judith Helfand.

The program includes:
-Story Development and Pitch Training;
-Two months of honing, writing, and perfecting a pitch;
-Editing a trailer for presentation (3-5 minutes);
-Live pitch in front of a panel of esteemed industry representatives;
-Introductions to a network of potential supporters and partners;
-Mentorship from experienced professionals.

Each project receives a $500.00 honorarium

Rules & Terms

-This program is for documentary feature-length films and short films (over 25 minutes);
-Films must have a woman (girl) or women character(s) in a leadership role(s) or
position(s) on screen;
-Projects from all genres are accepted, and stories about women from all racial, ethnic,
socioeconomic, and cultural groups are encouraged to apply;
-Filmmakers who apply MUST NOT have completed more than THREE feature-length
-Films need to be in production or at least have some footage shot to submit to the
program. Projects that are in development without any footage are not eligible;
-Projects must have a producer attached to their film to be considered;
-Films that don’t focus on women's leadership WILL NOT be considered;