LunaFest returns to Moscow

Matt Maw

It may be difficult for most people to compose a “Top 10 List” of female filmmakers, but the University of Idaho Women’s Center could help to add a few entries. The Center will host LunaFest tonight, March 11, a traveling film festival that spotlights women’s films and issues. This season boasts nine independent short films, all made by women, featuring elements of animation, documentary and more traditional narrative methods. The movies engage a range of topics, from blind dating, to basketball for the elderly, to economic hardship in Greece.

Lysa Salsbury, the Center’s director, said the films are relatable and don’t hold back on reality.

“They’re very human, very much about those aspects of the human experience not often talked about,” Salsbury said. “They’re very moving, raw and real stories.”

LunaFest was started in 2000 by the Luna company—the folks behind the Luna women’s nutritional bars. More than 900 national and international films have been submitted to the festival each year, and each selected filmmaker is awarded $1,000. LunaFest has raised more than $650,000 for its primary recipient, the Breast Cancer Fund, and more than $1 million for local groups in the areas it’s been shown. More than a spark for conversation, Salsbury said LunaFest is a valuable effort to actively support and display women’s work.

Salsbury said the goals of the festival are threefold: to advance female work in a film industry full of men; to engage women’s issues across cultures; and to provide a platform to celebrate independent filmmakers and their work in front of an appreciative audience. Moviegoers are apt to clap after viewing each film.

“It’s such an enthusiastic and supportive environment,” she said.

Salsbury said everyone can relate to society’s demands on individual appearance, ability and other factors. The international scope of the festival is no barrier to viewers.

“(The movies) really transcend cultural divides,” she said. “Even though issues are presented as specific to culture, the emotional issues resonate with women everywhere.”

With a reception beforehand catered by Maialina Pizzeria Napoletana and Camas Prairie Winery, and a raffle featuring prizes from local businesses, LunaFest looks to be a beautiful evening. It might even make your “Top 10.”

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