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Arts & Culture

Focus on female filmmakers: LUNAFEST comes to Easton

This is Beth film
Beth Rodden
"This is Beth" directed by Jen Randall tells the story of celebrated rock climber Beth Rodden, who grapples with her body image. The short film is part of LUNAFEST.

EASTON, Pa. — Designed as an empowering afternoon of fun and film during Women's History Month, the Easton branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) is hosting its first LUNAFEST.

The traveling festival of short films is made for women by women and takes place on Sunday, March 19 at Lafayette College's Landis Center.

  • The Easton branch of the American Association of University of Women (AAUW) is hosting its first LUNAFEST, a movie event that showcases short films directed by female filmmakers
  • Proceeds from the tickets benefit the AAUW's college scholarship program
  • Tickets cost $25 or $10 for students and seniors

LUNAFEST was created in 2001 by LUNA Bars to showcase films about women and gender-nonconforming individuals with the idea that sharing different and diverse stories can spark conversations, connection and change.
It also serves as a “fundraiser in a box” for hosts seeking to raise funds for their cause, according to Carol Inman, chairwoman of the event.

"It's a very interesting fundraising model for nonprofits that address women's issues," Inman said.

Tickets are $25 (or $10 for students and seniors) and proceeds will go towards providing scholarships to Easton-area high school graduates who plan on attending two- or four-year colleges and universities.

How it began

Inman and fellow AAUW members got the idea to bring LUNAFEST to the Lehigh Valley after hearing about it at a national conference for the association. The AAUW is a nonprofit that was founded in 1881 to promote women’s education, particularly baccalaureate and post-graduate.

"The Reading branch has been hosting LUNAFEST for a couple of years now and when we went to the conference, they raved about it," Inman said.

"They are charming films that are witty and intelligent, and the production value is very high. I have [organized] a number of film festivals, and I'm really impressed with the production value."

Showcasing women's issues

This year's theme is body dysphoria.

"Each year they pick a different theme. Last year, they did immigrant women's experiences which was very good and a little edgy," Inman said. "It also used humor to a very good effect."

2023's films include "Reclaim Your Water: Natasha Smith," directed by Faith E. Briggs, "Miss Chelove: From Java to the Streets of D.C." by Sara T. Gama, "Pete" by Bret Parker and Pete Barma, "This is Beth" by Jen Randall, "More Than I Want To Remember" by Amy Bench, "Syed Family XMas Eve Game Night" by Fawzia Mirza and Kausar Mohammed and "Swimming Through" by Samantha Sanders.

"They are charming films that are witty and intelligent, and the production value is very high. I have [organized] a number of film festivals, and I'm really impressed with the production value."
Carol Inman, organizer of LUNAFEST in Easton

The 90-minute screener showcases the talent of women filmmakers from different cultural backgrounds and sheds light on other issues, such as LGBTQ rights and female friendships.

Syed Family Night - movie
"Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night," is one of the short films that address women's issues at LUNAFEST, a movie screening taking place in Easton on Sunday, March 19.

For example, Mirza and Mohammed's short flick tells the story of Noor, a queer Pakistani Muslim woman, who brings her Puerto Rican girlfriend, Luz, home for the first time during the family's holiday festivities.

Meanwhile, Manther's film explores the relationship between three open water swimmers who continue their training during winter in Chicago, through snow, ice and the pandemic.

Bling swap

The event will also feature a jewelry exchange along with free refreshments.

"One of our artists set up an amazing display," Inman said. "Everyone can bring a piece of formerly loved costume jewelry and after the screening, they can pick up a new piece of bling."

Reclaim Your Water
Faith E. Briggs
"Reclaim Your Water" is one of the four short films that are part of the LUNAFEST movie festival.

It's all part of the AAUW's local efforts to host more film festivals and other fundraising opportunities.

"This year, we are just doing the LUNAFEST event, but I really want to join forces with Lafayette (College) and other organizations in the city to do a series of films throughout the month of March," Inman said.

"My hope is to have more films that address edgier, diverse issues. I do this because I'm a great believer in the ability of films to launch discussions either at the event or later on between friends."