Movies With a Cause: Athena Film Festival Reviews

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Gina Borden, a senior at Barnard and an Athena Scholar, takes you on an inside look at three of the 2014 Athena Film Festival’s most powerful movies.  For her Senior Project for the Athena Scholars Program, she created a campaign called Field of Hope to raise money for ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease research and patient care. 

The 99ers

“The 99ers,” a documentary directed by Erin Leyden, follows the inspiring and groundbreaking story of the 1999 US Women’s National Soccer Team and their gold medal victory in the World Cup.  The film is unique and honest in its presentation of the story.  Team members narrate it themselves, and Co-Captain and Producer Julie Foudy provided most of the footage herself from the home videos she took during that famous summer.  The close and personal look into the lives of the players allows the viewer to understand the challenges the team faced, and how they worked hard everyday to overcome them.  Through their hard work, women’s professional soccer was changed forever, and girls across the country had positive role models in these fierce, talented, and driven women.  Only 50 minutes long, this film is an uplifting must-see.

The Book Thief

Based on the novel by Markus Zusak, “The Book Thief” is the unfortunate tale of Liesel Meminger, a girl living with a foster family in Nazi Germany.  Narrated by Death, the film follows Liesel as she attempts to live a normal childhood and adolescence in a society based on fear and immersed in war.  The film is touching in that it teaches what is most important in life: family, friends, books, music, and acceptance of others’ differences.  Director Brain Percival is able to mix in light-hearted scenes to balance the horrors of reality the characters face.  The story is almost unbearably tragic, and yet has the uplifting spirit at the end of a country entering a time of peace.  It is a beautiful film, though be warned of heavy content.

Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way

As Former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro was dying of cancer, her daughter, Donna Zaccaro, realized that it was important to preserve the accomplishments of her mother’s life.  Zaccaro interviewed her mother and all of those closest to her—both personally and professionally—to create “Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way,” a documentary that highlights one of the most important feats of modern feminist history: a woman’s name on the ticket to be Vice President of the United States.  The film takes viewers through Congresswoman Ferraro’s journey in politics and how she established herself as a determined and savvy leader who will stop at nothing to make this country a better place.  It touches on the many challenges she and her family faced in the public eye, such as financial scrutiny and prejudice for being Italian-American.  Through it all, she remained true to her values, and—as the title suggests—paved the way for other women (both Democrat and Republican) to make a difference in government and public service.