The film “Knocking Down the Fences” tells the story of how AJ Andrews, the first woman to win a Rawlings Gold Glove Award, struggled to make it as a professional softball player. (LUNAFEST)

The film “Knocking Down the Fences” tells the story of how AJ Andrews, the first woman to win a Rawlings Gold Glove Award, struggled to make it as a professional softball player. (LUNAFEST)

Virtual film festival spotlights women’s voices, perspectives

LUNAFEST is a fundraiser for Girls on the Run of Snohomish County, a nonprofit whose aim is joyful, healthy and confident girls.

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — LUNAFEST is celebrating 20 years of women in film.

Girls on the Run of Snohomish County is hosting a virtual LUNAFEST film festival this year — featuring short films directed by and about women — on May 21 via Eventive. This is second year in a row the Mountlake Terrace-based nonprofit has hosted the event.

This year’s lineup includes four films with a total running time of about 65 minutes. They are: “Knocking Down the Fences,” “Overexposed,” “Connection” and “Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business.”

“They’re all so engaging and tell different and unique stories,” said Audrey Duncan, communications director and program manager for Girls on the Run of Snohomish County. “The last two years have been great. I’m super-excited to watch this year’s lineup. They’re so interesting and powerful that you walk away just feeling inspired.”

A special interview with filmmaker Meg Shutzer and pro softball player and Gold Glove winner AJ Andrews from the film “Knocking Down the Fences” will run after the screenings.

Now in its 20th year, LUNAFEST flips the script by creating opportunities for women in film. Since 2001, talented female directors have been bringing new perspectives — and women’s stories from all over the world — to the big screen.

LUNAFEST films, ranging from animation to drama, relate to women’s health, motherhood, body image, relationships, cultural diversity and breaking barriers.

Gender disparity in film is evident. Women are hugely underrepresented in this medium, where the overall percentage of female directors from the past 13 years was 4.8%.

But that’s starting to change. New research from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative shows that 10.6% of the directors of 2019’s top movies were women — the highest percentage in more than a decade.

Tickets to the virtual LUNAFEST are $15 per person or $25 per household. All proceeds benefit Girls on the Run of Snohomish County.

Megan Wolfe, who founded the Snohomish County chapter of Girls on the Run in 2015, said the event is a perfect partnership because both LUNAFEST and Girls on the Run work to change lives.

“We love LUNAFEST because it’s women making films for and about women,” Wolfe said. “We know that in the film industry it’s not always women who get to set the narrative, so we’re excited about that — they do a lot of work to make sure to have a lot of diverse voices telling these stories.

“It’s an opportunity to highlight these films and filmmakers, and also raise some money to support our program.”

Girls on the Run of Snohomish County’s mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.

Nine years ago, Wolfe volunteered with Girls on the Run in the Seattle area. She loved volunteering for the organization so much that three years later she founded one to serve girls closer to home. She serves as the executive director of the chapter.

The organization’s curriculum was developed for girls, or anyone who identifies as a girl, in third through eighth grade, which includes running or walking a 5K.

The eight-week program, which kicks off each spring, incorporates physical activity to teach critical life skills, encourage personal development and foster meaningful connections with others as well as contributions to the community.

“There’s always a lesson that goes along with that,” Wolfe said. “We work on things like what healthy relationships look like, are you being a good friend to the people in your life, how to communicate your emotions in healthy ways, how to handle a bullying situation or stand up for yourself or someone else, how to connect with others in ways that celebrate how you’re different and how you’re similar.”

About 230 girls signed up for this year’s program. Each team of 10-15 GOTR girls is assigned a volunteer coach.

“All of our girls have missed a year-plus of connecting with their peers — that social time, that growth that happens when you’re in a classroom or an after-school program,” Wolfe said. “That social-emotional piece is going to be so important coming out of this pandemic.”

This year’s virtual Girls on the Run of Snohomish County 5K is slated for June 12. Registration is free. Or donate $25 to receive a race swag bag that includes a medal, race bib, headband and car magnet.

In addition, two Girls Have Heart summer camps, for girls in third through fifth grade, are scheduled for July 19-23 and Aug. 2-6 at Willis D. Tucker Community Park in Snohomish. Registration opens May 24.

In 20 years, LUNAFEST has raised more than $6 million for nonprofit organizations, featured 170 female filmmakers and hosted over 2,500 screenings in the U.S. and Canada.

Last year, Girls on the Run of Snohomish County raised nearly $2,000 with its LUNAFEST event. Duncan said the fundraiser helped to provide programming, scholarships and running shoes to girls in the community during the pandemic.

“We’ve already been seeing how much girls are needing to have people outside of their household to talk to about difficult situations,” Wolfe said. “They’re processing it in a different way than all of us, so this money is going to allow us to be ready to support more girls moving forward.”

Can’t watch all four films on May 21? No problem. Stream the films at your convenience as soon as 5 p.m. May 21. You will have 48 hours to start watching the films, and 24 hours to finish once you hit play.

Watch the 2021 trailer for LUNAFEST on YouTube.

For more information about Girls on the Run of Snohomish County, go to www.girlsontherunsnoco.org.

If you stream

Girls on the Run of Snohomish County is hosting the LUNAFEST film festival on May 21 via Eventive. The event features films directed by and about women. There are four films with a total running time of about 65 minutes: “Knocking Down the Fences,” “Overexposed,” “Connection” and “Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business.” Suggested for ages 16 and older. Tickets are $15-$25. More at www.lunafest.org/screenings.

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