A friend from church invited me to see her short film, Harriet Returns, at the Athena Film Festival- A celebration of Women and Leadership at Barnard College. We all got to sit in the Reserved section, which was pretty exciting. We were shown the Shorts Collection, a total of 7 different short films.
Harriet Returns was a powerful tale about Harriet Tubman who comes back to life and tries to free young black men from their own slavery of using the N-word. However she meets her match with NYC two rappers, Master E and Raz who don’t believe they need saving. The movie was set in contemporary times in Central Park and was fast paced, interesting and taught about history without preaching. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to see more- My friend plans to turn it into a feature length film.
The other shorts were engaging and wide-ranging in themes. I found I am a Girl! a Norwegian film about a 13-year old named Joppe. She seems like any normal teenage girl, except that she was born a boy. The film shows how Joppe lives her life, and how she grapples with asking another boy out but ultimately shows how she is unafraid to be who she truly believes she was meant to be.
Another one of my favorites was Nurses for Africa where a group of nurses travel to Zambia, Africa to provide free medical treatment, but quickly find that they give much more than just medical treatment. They are amazed that despite the destitute living conditions, people (kids even) are still able to live with joy and love in their hearts. The nurses’ lives are forever changed by the act of helping others. This movie made me tear up quite a bit, especially when one of the nurses found a young child with an infection in his eye that had already blinded his right eye when all that was needed was $5 worth of medicine. It broke my heart and made me see how much I have and how much I, too would like to help others.
One more film that I liked was Junko’s Shamisen which was about a young girl who lived in the woods with her blind grandfather. She befriends a mystical fox and that fox helps her avenge the death of her grandfather. We triumph in this tale of innocence, evil and bloodshed after her success.
The Athena Film Festival truly captures what it sets out to do: A celebration of women and leadership. It was an eye-opening, inspiring and fun event.