EXCLUSIVE: The Athena Film Festival said Time’s Up co-founder Nina Shaw, The Miseducation of Cameron Post writer-director Desiree Akhavan and Toronto Film Festival co-chief Cameron Bailey have been selected as this year’s honorary award winners, bestowed to celebrate women leaders in the entertainment industry and those who support them.
The ninth annual Athena Film Festival, co-founded by the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College and Women and Hollywood with a focus on telling amplifying stories of fierce and fearless females, runs February 28-March 3 at Barnard in New York. It will open with Julia Hart’s Fast Color, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and closes with the New York premiere of the Sundance buzz documentary Knock Down the House in its New York premiere.
Shaw, a Barnard alum and founding partner at Los Angeles entertainment legal powerhouse Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano, where she has repped talent for more than 40 years, will receive the Athena Award. Akhavan, who wrote, directed, and starred in her 2014 film debut Appropriate Behavior, also wrote and directed Cameron Post, the timely coming-of-age story about LGBTQ youth that took the Grand Jury prize at Sundance 2018. She will receive the Breakthrough Award.
Bailey, the former film critic who via his longtime roles at Toronto has brought countless female filmmakers into the international spotlight, will receive the Leading Man Award.
“Now more than ever, it is crucial that we continue to recognize the voices and visions of women
in this industry,” said Melissa Silverstein, co-founder and artistic director of the Athena Film Festival and founder of Women and Hollywood. “The Athena Film Festival is proud to honor these champions and give them a platform to continue the dialogue about this important moment in the industry.”
Added Kathryn Kolbert, the festival’s co-founder and producing director: “We are proud to announce our 2019 Athena Film Festival honorees, who continue to push the gender equality and inclusion conversation forward, both in front of and behind the camera. We value the work of each of our honorees and look forward to highlighting their accomplishments at the festival.”
Previous Athena awardees include Amma Asante, Ava DuVernay, Greta Gerwig, Diablo Cody, Karyn Kusama, Dee Rees, Callie Khouri, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Julie Taymor. Previous Leading Man awardees include Paul Feig, David Oyelowo, and J.J. Abrams. Bridget Everett won the inaugural Breakthrough Award last year.