Tired Of Seeing Hollywood Women Snubbed, Melissa Silverstein & Kathryn Kolbert Started Their Own Festival

In 2010, before championing women in Hollywood was the latest chic trend, Melissa Silverstein and Kathryn Kolbert teamed up to found the Athena Film Festival, entirely devoted to showcasing “films that address women’s leadership in real life and the fictional world.” This year’s festival, which runs from February 27 through March 1 at Barnard College, will mark its 10th anniversary. The impressive lineup includes Suffragette director Sarah Gavron’s follow up, Rocks, Liz Garbus’ highly-anticipated Netflix film, Lost Girls, and the New York premiere of Unjoo Moon’s I Am Woman. Ahead, Silverstein and Kolbert share how they claim and wield their power in a year where the closest thing women director got to mainstream recognition was Natalie Portman’s Oscars dress

Melissa Silverstein

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I feel most powerful when...

I get emails or tweets from people who I don't know really well or have admired from afar expressing support for all the work I've been doing for the last 13 years. I've had multiple emails bring me to tears and they remind me that I need to keep my eyes looking towards the future.

Power to me means...

Getting the abundance of women in the entertainment community to realize that they are the keys to their own success.

What do you do when you feel powerless?

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Take a walk and remind myself that change does not come easily. Then go back to work!

What’s your power anthem?

"This is Me" from The Greatest Showman. It just expressed everything that's true about humanity. We are glorious!

Who’s your power icon?

There are so many. The women in the industry who have powered through the years of not getting jobs. The people who use their power to hire people. And in no particular order: Emma Thompson, Naomi Alderman, Chanel Miller, Ava DuVernay, Greta Gerwig, Jane Campion, Gillian Armstrong, Barbra Streisand, Rachel Maddow, Alexandria Ocasio Cortes, Michelle Obama, Jill Lepore, Megan Rapinoe and all the women's soccer team, and the #silencebreakers- from the gymnasts to the Harvey survivors, to the Rusell Simmons survivors. Their power and strength is mind blowing.

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What do you wear when you want to feel powerful?

I have an assortment of t-shirts from Girls on Tops: Emma Thompson, Ava DuVernay and Agnes Varda.  I employ them all at important moments when I want to walk in my power.

Kathryn Kolbert

I feel most powerful when...

I'm surrounded by young women who are agitating for change.

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Power to me means...

Making real changes (political, social, cultural) that improve women's economic security and access to reproductive health care.  

What do you do when you feel powerless? 

Focus relentlessly on electing more women to office and flipping state legislatures blue, particularly PA. 

What’s your power anthem?  

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“Girl on Fire,” by Alicia Keys 

Who’s your power icon?  

The three women on the Supreme Court (Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsberg), and Serena Williams.

What do you wear when you want to feel powerful? 

My "Wild Feminist" sweatshirt.

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