Without risks you don’t go anywhere, you don’t learn anything, and the movies that have been least enjoyable for me have been the ones that have kind of been by rote. Directors should always explore their boundaries – that’s where really exciting things happen.
– Ellen Kuras, American cinematographer and director
LUNAFEST East Bay is this Saturday and you don’t have your tickets yet? What are you waiting for? If you need some more convincing, here are my top 10 reasons for attending LUNAFEST this year!
1. Community spirit. What I love about events like LUNAFEST is the sense of community that I feel when I see people coming through the doors of the El Cerrito High School Performing Arts Theatre to watch short films “by, for, about women.” I get a thrill when I look out across the auditorium and see their faces illuminated by the light from the movie on the big screen, knowing that we are all sharing in wonderment and joy as the story before us unfolds. When we spill out into the lobby after the screening, I bask in the energy of our little community talking about what moved us and what brilliant minds behind the films inspire us to share our own creative gifts.
2. Girlfriends, moms and daughters, sisters. Call it a ladies’ night out. Call it mom/daughter time together. Go on a date with your female loved ones (and/or your male loved ones!). Go out to eat, enjoy the film festival – don’t forget to have a group shot at our photo booth to commemorate the occasion (last year’s inaugural photo booth was a hit!) – and afterwards have a glass of wine or a cup of tea and talk about your favorite moment in each short film or your favorite film. Celebrate the creative force of six amazing women filmmakers and make it an annual event. Better yet, make it a priority to support women filmmakers’ movies. Vote with your pocketbooks.
3. Raffle prizes. This year, we have some wonderful raffle prizes: Good wine – and lots of it! Plus, two spa baskets, a bicycle basket, which includes a $100 gift certificate from Bikes on Solano (1554 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA, 510.524.1094), a wine and appetizers basket, and a Solano Avenue merchant basket. So many goodies to choose from, and you can put your raffle ticket toward the gift you are coveting!
4. Braxtons’ Boxes. Who can resist delectable chocolate chip cookies and red-velvet cupcakes from Braxtons’ Boxes? For those who have devoured these goodies the past two LUNAFEST seasons or have had them at a birthday party or other event know what I’m talking about. Prepare to die by chocolate and sugar! Not a bad way to go.
5. Meg Smaker. Meg’s film, Boxeadora, chronicles the struggles and dreams of Cuba’s only female boxer. It’s a powerful and sobering documentary. Meg, who hails from Oakland, will be one of our filmmaker guests. She’ll participate in our on-stage filmmaker interview. Once you see her film, you’ll want to seek her out during intermission or after the event to ask questions about her film.
6. Sarah Feeley. Sarah’s film, Raising Ryland, documents the Whittington family and their journey to raise their transgender son with love, compassion, and understanding. Parents, be prepared to bring a handkerchief or box of facial tissue to share. Sarah is a recent transplant to El Cerrito! She’s been invited to join us on March 19th, and if she’s able to attend and not be called away for work, we’ll introduce her to the audience. Seek her out during intermission or after the event and find out more about her work.
7. Anna Schumacher and Matt Takimoto. Local kids – Class of 2005 – done good: Anna and Matt are alumni of the former Portola Middle School (now Fred T. Korematsu) and El Cerrito High School. Anna earned her BA in theatre at the University of California at Davis, and Matt earned his BA in music at the University of Oregon. Anna’s second film, Finding June, is one of six films chosen for this year’s LUNAFEST, and Matt scored the music. Both will be at the VIP event prior to the screening, and both will be on-stage for a short interview by yours truly. You can meet them during intermission and after the event, and find out what they’re working on next.
8. IT Academy. LUNAFEST enables local film festival planners, such as LUNAFEST East Bay, to donate a portion of their proceeds to local organizations. LUNAFEST East Bay donates to El Cerrito High School’s Information Technology Academy (ITA), which is a small learning community supported by TechFutures, a nonprofit organization founded by Mr. and Mrs. Ron Whittier. ITA “gives the underserved West Contra Cost Unified School District students an opportunity to have career-focused courses in digital art and computer systems management.” Last year’s proceeds helped to buy the ITA a 3D printer. Lucky kids!
9. The Breast Cancer Fund. If you want to learn more about environmental hazards that put women at risk, then get educated by going to the Breast Cancer Fund website, which “works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.” The nonprofit organization shows how we can be proactive in protecting our health and our families’ health. In the 15 years of its existence, LUNAFEST film festivals around the country have raised $860,000 to date for more research in this area. Most of LUNAFEST East Bay’s proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Fund. Be proactive. Be an advocate.
10. Simply great short films. This year six short films were chosen. And they’re really good. Not just good, but thought-provoking, artistic, humorous, invigorating, heartfelt, and especially a testament to the human spirit. Animated vision, different global viewpoints, examinations of social and cultural issues, and exercises in overcoming barriers – this year’s LUNAFEST has got them covered. And the best thing is that the women filmmakers are strong role models for girls and women of any age to create, do what you love, and pave the way for women to be treated equally in the film industry and everywhere else. Go Ladies!
Note: You can still get tickets online. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here. And then mark your calendars for Saturday, March 19th, 7:30pm, at the El Cerrito High School’s Performing Arts Theater. See you there!