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Annual traveling film festival to showcase works by women

By Staff | Jan 14, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Zontian Virginia Jones interacts with the audience during last year's LUNAFEST.

A traveling festival featuring a collection of short films that highlight female filmmakers and raise awareness about women’s lives is returning to the islands, and this year’s event tickets are free.

Hosted by the Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva and co-sponsored by Vision 2020, the third annual LUNAFEST will take place on Jan. 21 beginning at 7 p.m. at The Community House, with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m. In honor of Zonta’s 100th anniversary, the island fest will be free of charge.

“The Zonta mission is to empower women in all sorts of ways,” event chair Carol Gestwicki said. “LUNAFEST was started to empower women filmmakers and to bring the spotlight to things that are important to women.”

Founded in 2000 by entrepreneur Kit Crawford, the festival has created opportunities for over 150 women to share their untold stories. In addition, LUNAFEST contributes to Chicken & Egg Pictures, a non-profit that supports women non-fiction filmmakers whose creations bring about social change.

“It is set up to specifically support women, particularly young women, filmmakers,” she said.

This year’s festival will feature six short films from around the country and beyond.

“It’s a little over an hour program,” Gestwicki said.

A snippet at the start of each film will spotlight the creators of the work.

“You’ll hear from some of the filmmakers themselves,” she said.

Created in various formats – even animation – each work is unique and thought-provoking.

“Every single one of them are very creative,” Gestwicki said.

This year’s lineup will include:

– “Purl

An earnest ball of yarn gets a job at a fast-paced, high-energy, bro-tastic start-up.

– “Ballet After Dark”

A young woman finds strength after an attack by creating an organization to help survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence through dance therapy.

– “There You Are”

A trans woman must dress like a man to say goodbye to her dying grandmother.

– “Xmas Cake – This American Shelf-Life”

A coming-of-middle-age story that follows a pop singer’s journey from hot to not, and what ensues across cultures from New York to Tokyo.

– “Game”

A new kid in town shows up at the high school boys’ basketball tryouts and instantly makes an impression. Will talent and drive be enough to make the team?

– “Lady Parts”

A struggling actor finally gets her big break, only to realize the glass ceiling can also be a camera lens.

– “How To Swim”

In the last days of her pregnancy, a terrified mother-to-be kidnaps a maternal stranger for an afternoon of hijinks.

Following the short films, a special work will be premiered.

“We have a bonus this year because we have a local film,” she said.

The island club recently produced a short film on the story of the Equal Rights Amendment. Film producers and Zontians Laura DeBruce and Kate Sergeant met with experts on history in America and constitutional law professors, as well as women in Florida to talk about the yet-to-be-passed ERA.

A longer version of the film is in the works for this year.

Gestwicki noted that anyone intrigued by film will enjoy the event.

“Please don’t think these are only films for women,” she said.

“We welcome everybody,” Gestwicki added.

Tickets to the annual fest are normally $20 per person.

“But this is Zonta’s 100th anniversary,” she said, noting that it was founded in the same year that women gained the right to vote in the United States. “So one thing we thought we would do is make this available to the community as part of the celebration this year.”

To reserve free tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/lunafest-sanibel-fl-tickets-82840884315.

Popcorn and drinks will be sold to benefit The Community House.

Also at the festival, the club will be selling tickets for its 19th annual home tour, “A Peek at the Unique,” set for March 14 and chance tickets for the various prizes to be raffled away at the Peek.

The public is encouraged to hop online and reserve their LUNAFEST tickets.

“These are the kinds of things you go home and think about,” Gestwicki said of the films.

For more information, visit www.zontasancap.com.

The Community House is at 2173 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.