2018 Athena Film Festival Preview

The eighth annual Athena Film Festival will be held February 22-25 at Barnard College. The Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard hosts the event, along with the organization Women and Hollywood. The festival shares “inspiring films that tell the extraordinary stories of strong, bold women leaders from all walks of life.” FF2 Media is sponsoring a screening of Petra Volpe’s The Divine Order Sunday at 3 p.m., and our team of NYC critics will be reviewing 11 new films from female writers and directors. Our reviews of the nine major films being screened this weekend are listed below. For dates and times, check out the Athena Film Festival Schedule.

Opening Night Film: Battle of the Sexes

Emma Stone and Steve Carell “battle” it out as co-directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton recreate the epic 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. With an impressive, extensive cast list, Battle of the Sexes is a timely story of the fight for gender equality.


Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi’s joint documentary Chavela profiles the public success and private turbulence in the life of legendary Mexican singer and lesbian icon Chavela Vargas. Chavela’s life story is at once inspirational and sobering as this film paints a full, unflinching picture of Vargas’s struggles.

Wonder Woman

76 years after her creation, Wonder Woman finally gets the origin story she deserves, delivered by director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot.

Their Finest

Screenwriter Gaby Chiappe adapts Lissa Evans novel Their Finest Hour and a Half into one of the finest hours of cinema in 2017 – a period piece in 1940s London, a romantic dramedy with an underlying feminist message and an utterly enjoyable cinematic experience.

Lady Bird

Written and directed by Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird is sharp and easy to watch, with deftly humorous and emotionally potent performances by Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf.

The Breadwinner

From writer Anita Doron and director Nora Twomey, The Breadwinner is a stunning portrait of a child’s plight in early-2000s Afghanistan. Based on the novel by Deborah Ellis, superb animation and endearing dialogue set apart this heartbreaking piece of modern historical fiction.

Megan Leavey

Kate Mara gives a beautifully modulated performance as a young woman who finds her life’s purpose as a member of the US Marine Corp’s K-9 unit in Megan Leavey.

The Zookeeper’s Wife

Adapted from Diane Ackerman’s novel of the same name, The Zookeeper’s Wife is directed by Niki Caro and written for the screen by Angela Workman. The film tells of the Zabinski family, the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, and how they saved hundreds of Jews during the German invasion of Poland by hiding them on zoo grounds.

The Post

Liz Hannah and Josh Singer’s The Post lays out the complicated historical narrative through four presidential administrations that lied about America’s involvement and “progress” in the Vietnam War over the course of 30 years.

© Georgiana E. Presecky (2/21/18) FF2 Media

Photos: Emma Stone and Steve Carell in Battle of the Sexes; Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird; Kate Mara as Megan Leavey; the cast of The Post. Photos courtesy of Decibel Films; A24; LD Entertainment; 20th Century Fox.

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