Last weekend I attended The Athena Film Festival - a celebration of women and leadership in New York.
The festival included films by and about women. The subject matter highlighted the wide diversity of women’s leadership in both real life and the fictional world.
Film is a medium known to nearly all people in nearly every part of the world. And films have power. They create conversation. They reveal truths. They inspire. Through feature films, documentaries, and shorts, the Festival will explore what makes a leader
So many things struck me about the movies, the panels, and the festival as a whole. There are so many amazing women's stories that aren't being told. There are so many inspirational women leaders who we aren't being acknowledged. There's a desperately needed point of view that's not being heard. The Athena Film Festival is one gigantic step towards changing that.
But there was another theme throughout the festival that really got my attention - and it was this:
The importance and strength of the bonds between women.
- Women in the Niger Delta threatening "The Naked Option", a cultural tabu in order to protest oil companies in their land.
- A female chief who created a village for outcast women
- Two Iranian girls rebelling against an opressive society
- The friendship between Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug
- A henna artist helping a breast cancer survivor feel beautiful again
Over and over you saw women coming together either one-on-one or in groups to help each other, support each other, and accomplish amazing things.
Why advertisers need to pay attention to these messages
I've written before about the power of friendship, especially in marketing and ads. We so rarely see examples of female friendship in any medium from marketing to movies.
How bad is it in Hollywood? Here's an update.
The Bechdel Test
The Bechdel Test measures female presence and importance to plot in Hollywood movies. In order to pass the test a film must have two or more women, with names, who talk to each other about something other than men. (The bar is set pretty darn low here, so you'd think plenty of films could pass, but surprisingly few do.)
This is beyond sad. And for so many reasons. But one big one is we are not seeing women's friendships and bonds represented in movies.
The very few films that do focus on female friendships and bonds - Bridesmaids, The Help have been incredibly successful.
So advertisers and marketers - If you're looking for a creative angle that will help you be more successful in your efforts to market to women, feature female friendships in your ads.
Best movie of the festival
There were so many amazing films it's hard to choose one, but I must say Circumstance was absolutely stunning. It was the Sundance 2011 Audience Award Winner and the theatre was standing room only.