Lunafest puts focus on films by and about women

A polar expedition, a legendary 93-year-old artist, and an Indigenous angler are just a few of the subjects film lovers will get a closer look at when Lunafest hits the screen at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library on Thursday.

The annual film festival enters its third year with seven documentaries and short films on the schedule. It’s the product of a partnership between the library and the Prince Albert YWCA.

“We don’t often get films and video content like that that’s wildly available and also by and about women,” YWCA communications and marketing coordinator Jesse Kendall said. “It’s starting to get more common now, but it’s still something we need to recognize.”

The film festival coincides with YWCA’s Week Without Violence, which launched on Monday. The goal of the global initiative is to advocate for the end of all forms of violence against women, and Kendall said that’s become even more important since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Nations has warned about a shadow pandemic of violence against women since the start of the outbreak, and Kendall said it’s difficult to stop that violence without understanding the female perspective.

“Part of ending gender-based violence is education, and in order to educate people, we need to make the stories of women accessible, and understand their side of the story,” she explained. “As more people become more knowledgeable about things that are happening, it reduces the amount of violence that we see.”

The Lunafest documentary list includes ‘Overexposed: Filming an Arctic Odyssey’ by Holly Morris, which takes a look at the film team that captured the story of a Women’s Euro-Arabian polar expedition, as well as Meg Schutzer’s ‘Knocking Down the Fences,’ which focuses on A.J. Andrews, a professional softball player and the first woman to win a Rawlings Gold Glove Award.

Short films include Amy Bench’s ‘A Line Birds Cannot See’ about a 12-year-old’s harrowing search for her mother.

Kendall said women are often seen as the weaker sex. She’s hoping these films will show everyone just how much strength women have.

Thursday’s screening will be an in-person event, but organizers say they will move it online if public health conditions worsen. All attendees will have to produce a negative COVID-19 test or proof of full vaccination.

The event begins at 7 p.m. at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library. It will include a short presentation about the importance of ending violence against women.