The Athena Film Festival has revealed the lineup for its 2017 edition. The films that will screen at the annual Barnard College event in New York, designed to celebrate female leadership, include HBO's Carrie Fisher-Debbie Reynolds documentary Bright Lights, the fall theatrical release Queen of Katwe and a special preview of the upcoming Hulu series The Handmaid's Tale, The Hollywood Reporter said.
Bright Lights, directed by Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens, has become especially poignant in the wake of the deaths of both Fisher and Reynolds. The doc had been making the festival rounds ahead of its HBO premiere this past weekend, and its Athena Film Festival screening will be followed by a conversation with HBO's Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins, a former Athena honoree. Queen of Katwe hit theaters in September but has strong ties to the festival in director Mira Nair, who received the festival's lifetime achievement award last year, and star David Oyelowo, who was previously named the festival's 2017 leading man honoree. Handmaid's Tale director Reed Morano will participate in a conversation following the screening of the Elisabeth Moss starrer.
The festival has also partnered with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the U.S. premiere of The Women Who Run Hollywood, followed by a post-screening panel, with filmmaker Cari Beauchamp, who's featured in the film, about pioneering female filmmakers in early Hollywood.
The festival will close with the New York premiere of Dolores, a documentary about feminist union organizer and Cesar Chavez cohort Dolores Huerta. The centerpiece film will be another documentary: City of Joy, about a community of the same name for female survivors of sexual violence in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Other films set to screen at this year's Athena Film Festival include Denial, starring Rachel Weisz; Custody, starring Viola Davis, Hayden Panettiere and Ellen Burstyn; Strange Weather, starring Holly Hunter; The Fits, starring Royalty Hightower; and documentaries Political Animals, Major! and Southwest of Salem. Additional programming includes a virtual reality program, panel discussions, a master class hosted by writer-director and festival honoree Patricia Riggen and a reading of the 2016 Athena list winner A Noble Affair.
In addition to Oyelowo, previously announced honorees include Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler and producer and social entrepreneur Regina K. Scully.
"It's an honor to once again host this incredible festival that celebrates inspiring stories of courageous and bold women and the filmmakers who create them," Athena Film Festival co-founder Kathryn Kolbert said in a statement.
Festival co-founder Melissa Silverstein added, "We are proud to announce a stellar lineup for the 2017 Athena Film Festival to showcase the narratives, documentaries and individuals breaking new ground for women in film. Our continued goal at the festival is to highlight experienced voices in the industry while also exploring and exhibiting brand new talent."
Additional screenings, panels and special events will be announced in the coming weeks. The seventh edition of the festival, co-founded by the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College and Women and Hollywood, will take place Feb. 9-12.