CARLSBAD — A local nonprofit showcased emerging female filmmakers at LUNAFEST to raise funds to support and empower women in the community on International Women’s Day.
Approximately 214 people were in attendance for the sold-out fundraising event on March 8 at Carlsbad City Library. The event helped support the efforts of Soroptimist International of Oceanside-Carlsbad, a nonprofit of 80 volunteers that create programs to assist women and girls with training to achieve economic empowerment.
“I believe it was coincidence, I mean the stars were aligned for us,” said Marybeth Glenn, a volunteer Soroptimist who has been hosting the event since 2016.
LUNAFEST is the first all-female traveling film festival that assists local nonprofits in raising funds for women’s causes in local communities. Glenn said that the Soroptimist International of Oceanside-Carlsbad has been presenting this short-film series since 2008 because it aligned with the nonprofit’s core mission.
“LUNAFEST are documentary films made by, for and about women and it promotes women in film and the empowerment of women overall,” Glenn said.
Kim Ashby, a Soroptimist who helped coordinate this year’s event, estimated the total contributions from the event at $11,000, which came through event ticket sales, raffle tickets for prizes, a silent auction for a fireman dinner and its event sponsors and donors.
From the estimated contributions, $350 of the money raised will be donated to Chicken & Pictures, a non-profit organization that supports women nonfiction filmmakers and the main beneficiary of LUNAFEST.
Samantha Stevenson has been attending LunaFest for the last several years and noted the impact that these films create for audience members.
“In a room full of strangers like this there’s certain things and certain emotions, life events, that happen that we individualize and handle on our own,” Stevenson said. “We can relate and have the same tug on our hearts that makes us come together.”
This year’s short-film series showcased seven films examining issues women are currently facing, from a lack of female representation on film sets and availability of diverse roles in film in “Lady Parts,” or the struggle of identity and acceptance for transwomen in “There You Are.”
One of the featured films garnering significant audience praise was “Ballet After Dark,” a 16-minute short film directed by Brittany “B. Monét” Fennell.
The film chronicles Tyde-Courtney Edwards and how she created an organization to help survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence through dance therapy in Baltimore, Maryland.
Jeff Brandmeyer, a teacher at Carlsbad High School Film Academy, moderated the question and answer portion after the screening for the second year in a row.
Brandmeyer opened the discussion on the film “There You Are,” by Lisa Donato, and the silence of the film’s transgender protagonist and said, “I love the message that we need to be seen as who we are than how we appeared to other people.”
“I teach young women in my filmmaking class and I strongly believe women need to be involved in creation and telling their stories,” he said.