Weber State University’s Women’s Center presented their fifth annual Lunafest film festival Oct. 21. Lunafest features films by, for and about women.

Image from "Ballet after Dark," a film showed at the latest Lunafest.
Image from "Ballet after Dark," a film showed at the latest Lunafest. Photo credit: Courtesy of LUNAFEST.org

Of the 175 cities in the country who participate, the WSU Women’s Center in Ogden has hosted Lunafest because the center’s goals align with the values of the festival — gender equality, supporting women and empowering communities.

Lunafest is a traveling film festival created by Luna, a maker of nutrition bars. The company has fought for equal rights for women for nearly 20 years.

The event started with a virtual kick-off. Participants were then given a link to the featured films.

Those who registered for the event had the option between a free ticket or a priced ticket for the purpose of donation. The event also included a silent auction of goods from donors and local businesses.

All proceeds went to the Women’s Center’s Safe@Weber Survivor Emergency Fund. The program provides financial support to WSU survivors of sexual or interpersonal violence.

The center surpassed its goal of raising $1,000 through Lunafest. Paige Davies, director of the Women’s Center, said she hopes for more participants in the future, because the more money contributed to the festival, the more support there is for sexual assault and domestic abuse survivors.

Davies said she hopes that WSU will continue to show support for Lunafest for years to come, as it gives the community a tangible way to support survivors through ticket donations and the silent auction.

“Hosting a film festival of independent films made by women is empowering,” Davies said. “We hope that the films inspire and empower women filmmakers and artists in our WSU community.”

The festival provides a safe space for all members of the community to come together, understand and learn more about each other and carry on conversations about tough or taboo topics.

There are always multiple topics that the films cover. Some of those topics and genres vary from documentaries, animations, dramas and humor.

Of the seven films screened this year, PIXAR’s short film “Purl” and Brittany Monét’s documentary “Ballet After Dark” were among Davies’ favorites.

“Purl” follows the story of the main character, Purl, who is a bright pink ball of yarn. She is hired at a predominantly-male company. Each day, she loses part of her own identity as a woman in the midst of the chaotic environment.

After being ignored by her colleagues, Purl conforms to the appearance and attitudes of these men and is soon noticed by them, so they invite her out for drinks.

Soon after, another woman named Lacy arrives at the office and is repeatedly ignored by the men. However, Purl befriends the new girl.

At the end of the film, they show multiple different-colored balls of yarn, men and women, who intermingle and work together as a team.

“Purl” shows that women need their differences to make their environment a better place for all, and to not change the characteristics that set them apart from others.

Davies said “Purl” portrayed the unspoken pressures that women face in male-dominated environments accurately, and the use of humor was an aspect many women could relate to.

Photo credit: Courtesy of LUNAFEST.org

On the other hand, the more serious film “Ballet After Dark” tells the story of the classically trained ballerina Tyde-Courtney Edwards, who survived a sexual abuse attack.

After her dehumanizing attack, she created an organization to help sexual abuse and domestic violence survivors find healing after trauma through dance therapy.

During the film’s production, the producers made sure women telling their stories in the film were given a platform to become something bigger than they’d dreamed.

“Too many of us women have been excised from the industry, and we want to change that,” said producer Queen Latifah. “We want to make this playing field a little more even.”

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