Festival in Manayunk focuses on films by and about women - Generocity Philly

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Sep. 17, 2021 1:16 pm

Festival in Manayunk focuses on films by and about women

The third annual LUNAFEST, which benefits Girls on the Run Philadelphia, is happening on September 25 at the Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center.

Still from the film "Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business", part of LUNAFEST in Manayunk Sept. 25, 2021.

(Courtesy photo)

Neither the recent flooding, courtesy of Hurricane Ida, nor the delta variant can dampen a good time.

The third annual LUNAFEST, a film festival, focused on movies by and for women, is happening on September 25 at the Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center in Manayunk. Girls on the Run Philadelphia (GOTR) hosts the event, and the organization is ready for all contingencies according, to Erin Skolte the organization’s mission advancement coordinator.

GOTR has hosted two prior Lunafests, one in-person and one virtually, so they are prepared for anything. “It is an in-person event. But we do have accommodations and preparations in place to convert it to a virtual event if the situation dictates,”  Skolte said.

“We are at the direction of Parks & Recreation, who oversees the venue,” she added.
Masks are required, registrants will sign a waiver online when registering and they’ll also fill out a waiver on-site.”

Lunafest gets its name from the LUNA bar, an energy bar made by the same people that make Clif Bars. Back in the early 2000s, it was the first traveling film festival to focus on movies by women about women. Since then, the film festival has raised more than $6 million for women’s nonprofits.

“Lunafest has become a sort of unofficial partner of Girls on the Run International and offers us to host their film festival each year as a way to raise funds for our program,” Skolte said.

Girls on the Run.

Girls on the Run is a national nonprofit organization that, as the name suggests, creates programs around running for young women and people who identify as female. But the focus isn’t just on physical fitness, the programs aim to integrate running with building social, emotional, and physical skills. The organization offers one program for third to fifth graders and another for sixth to eighth graders.

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“We give girls a chance to be their authentic selves, and to see their future and their potential is limitless,” Skolte said. “So it’s a very nice blend of the concepts that we portray to girls and then Clif and Luna bar doing the same thing for women, particularly in film.”

This year there are seven films covering everything from an arctic expedition in Holly Morris’s “Overexposed: Filming an Arctic Odyssey ” to fly fishing in  “Connection”, a film by Tracy Nguyen-Chung and Ciara Lacy. Another film, “Until She is Free” by Maria Finitzo, features a giant silver clitoris — made of wood, fiberglass, and steel — the work of mixed media artist Sophia Wallace, who “imagines a culturally cliterate world.”

Now would be the time to say that while the event benefits children, children aren’t its intended audience.

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Skolte said that the festival would work perfectly for a girls’ night out, a date night, or even an office get-together.

“if you haven’t seen your coworkers in a while, get together for a good cause,” she said. “And watch the films together and then go out for dinner. At this point, we’re all craving interaction with other grownups in real space with masks on.”

All of the profits from ticket sales go to GOTR, paying for scholarships to make their programming more accessible. “About 68% of the girls that participate in our program, do so by utilizing scholarship funds, so we don’t turn any girls away because they can’t afford the program,” Skolte explained,

“Anytime we’re raising funds, the focus is on building up that scholarship funds so that more girls can participate.”

Tickets for the event are $25, which includes light snacks from Insomnia Cookies and Float Dreamery, a local vegan ice cream company. Doors will open at 3 p.m. with the screening starting at 4 p.m. The whole event goes till 5:30 p.m.. Guests are encouraged to head into Manayunk afterward for a night out. The Couch Tomato is donating 15% of each order at their Manayunk location on September 25 to GOTR.

LUNAFEST is also sponsored by GIANT, Harrington & Associates, Live! Hotel & Casino Philadelphia, and Rosenbaum Injury Law.

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