Athena Film Fest: New York Premiere of ‘Copa 71’ to Kickstart Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

“Copa 71,” the Serena Williams-produced documentary that aims to shed light on the 1971 controversially unsanctioned Women’s World Cup, will have its New York premiere at the 14th annual Athena Film Festival, which will return on Feb. 29 and run through March 3.

The festival, hosted by Columbia University’s Barnard College, will feature a lineup of film screenings, conversations and other programming poised at “amplifying women’s leadership through storytelling around women’s sports, Indigenous perspectives, reproductive justice, disability representation and more,” according to the statement.

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The Lily Gladstone-starring “Fancy Dance,” directed by Native American Director Erica Tremblay, will make up one of the films screened in the narrative features collection. “The Persian Version,” a film about an Iranian American family brought together by illness and shocked by the revelation of a family secret, “Animalia,” which follows a woman in Morocco who finds her life upended because of a supernatural event and “Dancing Queen,” about a girl who joins a hip-hop dance crew in search love, round out some of the films in the category.

The festival will also feature a collection of screenings of documentaries including Ruth Leitman’s “No One Asked You” (a road film about “The Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead and the work of the Abortion Access Front), Estefanía Contreras’ “Hummingbirds” (a coming-of-age tale set on the Texas-Mexico border) and Lina Lyte Plioplyte’s “Periodical” (an exploration of the menstrual cycles) as well as a slate of shorts.

“In curating this year’s programming, we kept coming back to the idea of narrative change. Each of these films, in their own unique ways, frame stories in a way that, we believe, can move audiences, change perspectives, and spark lively and important conversations,” Melissa Silverstein, Athena Film Festival Artistic Director, said in a statement. “Our impressive lineup — from filmmakers all over the world — reflects the unique moment in which we’re living. After a tumultuous year for the film industry, our mission to elevate and amplify the voices and stories of powerful women remains as timely as ever.”

The premiere of “Copa 71” on Feb. 29 will open the festival, with a slate of programming continuing soon after. The lineup and full descriptions can be found on the AFF website. A selection of shorts will also be available to be screened through the festival’s virtual platform.

Passes and tickets are now on sale. Additional programming and 2024 honorees will be announced in the coming weeks.

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