Melissa Silverstein is the founder and publisher of Women and Hollywood, which educates, advocates, and agitates for gender parity across the entertainment industry.  Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017.  Women and Hollywood is one of the most respected sites focused on women’s issues and popular culture Silverstein has been recognized as one of the foremost experts on the role of women in the entertainment industry. Her work has been featured on a wide range of media and she has appeared on panels and at conferences across the globe.

Now in its seventh year, the Athena Film Festival — a celebration of women and leadership — is an engaging weekend of feature films, documentaries and shorts that highlight women’s leadership in real life and the fictional world.  The four-day festival, which includes conversations with directors and talent and workshops for filmmakers, has quickly established itself as one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind. The festival will be held Feb. 9 – 12, 2017 in the heart of New York — at Barnard, the most sought-after women’s college in the nation.


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About the awardees:
Eve Ensler is the Tony Award®-winning playwright, activist, performer and author of the theatrical phenomenon and Obie Award®-winning play The Vagina Monologues, which has been published in 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Eve’s plays include Necessary Targets, O.P.C., The Good Body, and Emotional Creature. Her books include Insecure At Last: A Political Memoir and the New York Times bestseller I Am An Emotional Creature. Her latest critically-acclaimed memoir is In the Body of the World, which she adapted, debuted and performed at American Repertory Theatre to rave reviews. Her play Fruit Trilogy was performed at the Women of the World Festival in London and The West Yorkshire Playhouse in March 2016. Eve is founder of V-Day, an almost 20-year-old global movement to end violence against women and girls, which has raised over $100 million, and One Billion Rising, a global mass action campaign in over 200 countries. She was named one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Changed the World” and The Guardian’s “100 Most Influential Women.”

Patricia Riggen has directed films including the Chilean miners saga The 33Girl in ProgressLa Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon) which she also produced and Miracles from Heaven.  In 2016, Mexican-born Riggen was the top grossing female director for a live action film for Miracles from Heaven. Riggen also wrote, directed and produced two multi-awarded short films, Gordon Parks’ documentary Family Portrait and narrative film The Cornfield. She is a graduate of Columbia University School of the Arts.

Regina K. Scully has executive produced over 100 social justice films and is the Emmy Award®-winning and Academy Award®-nominated executive producer of The Invisible War. She has also executive produced films including The Eagle Huntress, Anita Hill: Speaking Truth to Power, The Hunting Ground, Newtown, Fed Up, Miss Representation and Dreamcatcher among many others. She is the Founder and CEO of Artemis Rising Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to developing and promoting media, education and the arts that transform our culture. She is also the founding sponsor of The Athena Film Festival.

David Oyelowo is the 2017 Athena Leading Man Award recipient. He has consistently worked with and championed female directors throughout his career. His work with Ava DuVernay in Selma earned him Golden Globe® and Critics’ Choice Award® nominations and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture. Last year he starred in Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe, and in February 2017 will be seen starring opposite Rosamund Pike in A United Kingdom for director Amma Asante. His additional credits include Nightingale (for which he won the Critics’ Choice Award® for Best Actor), A Most Violent Year, Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Middle of Nowhere. Oyelowo is currently appearing in the New York Theater Workshop’s production of Othello along with Daniel Craig.

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