10 Film Festivals That Support Women Filmmakers

5 Film Festuvals


10 Film Festivals That Support Women Filmmakers


Now in its seventh year, the Athena Film Festival — a celebration of women and leadership — is an engaging weekend of feature films, documentaries and shorts that highlight women’s leadership in real life and the fictional world.  The four-day festival, which includes conversations with directors and talent and workshops for filmmakers, has quickly established itself as one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind.




This film festival has a deep commitment to fostering the growth of young women filmmakers. They even have a Camp Jane program for middle and high school girls who have an interest in film.

There call for women filmmakers on their website states:

Are you a female filmmaker? Then please submit to our 9th annual Citizen Jane Film Festival that will take place November 3-6, 2016. We screen films in all genres and short or feature length that are directed or co-directed by women. We program films made by filmmakers in all stages of their careers–from first time filmmakers to pioneers in the industry. If accepted, filmmakers are strongly encouraged to attend the festival in person to participate and collaborate with other female filmmakers throughout the weekend, and we work hard to help make this happen for you as much as possible!




“Amplifying the voices of women and girls” is the tagline and mission of the Women’s Film Institute.

The San Francisco Women’s Film Institute was conceived and founded in 2005 by filmmaker, media arts activist and community educator Scarlett Shepard. Shepard’s goal was to build upon the success of the San Francisco International Women’s Film Festival (founded in 2004) and it’s mission of supporting, promoting and celebrating films directed by women as art and education and expanding its programming year-round.

The institute supports its mission by presenting the annual San Francisco International Women’s Film Festival, Generation HERstory filmmaking training program for young women (ages 12-19), and a variety of film screenings and educational programs.




Stands for Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival.

It is a mighty regional festival and even has some exciting summer workshops for aspiring teen filmmakers already planned.

Their mission is simple:

In recognition of the power of women’s voices in film, the Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival (POW Fest) places a spotlight on women directors by showcasing their work and strengthening the community of women in film.

We feature the work of today’s top women directors, honoring the true pioneers while providing support and recognition for the next generation of leading women filmmakers.




If you are across the pond, or want to be, then check out this festival in the UK.

Underwire is the UK’s only film festival celebrating female filmmaking talent across the crafts. Founded in 2010 by Gabriella Apicella and Gemma Mitchell with the aim to change the face of the industry from the inside out, the festival has awarded training and mentoring opportunities to over 40 filmmakers, and has screened over 300 films.

The festival recognizes talent across Directing, Producing, Screenwriting, Editing, Cinematography, Sound Design, and Composing, and any short film that has a woman in one of those roles is eligible.

With women making up only 21.8%* of a typical feature film crew it is clear that these talents must be showcased early, to propel the women filmmakers of the future into their feature film careers.




This is a classic film festival that champions the voices of women in film.

They allow film submissions that range from features, shorts, documentaries, music videos, animation, and written screen plays.

Students can even enter this festival.

Here is an overview from their website:

The California Women’s Film Festival is deeply honored to celebrate women filmmakers, artists and writers by providing a showcase and networking forum in the heart of Hollywood.

The CWFF understands how important it is to hear and see the educated, entertaining and diverse stories of women from around the globe. We provide a platform so these voices can be heard and shared with audiences that want to be inspired.  The California Women’s Film Festival accepts all projects that has at least one woman in one of the key production positions:  (Producer, Director, Writer, Cinematographer, Lead Actress, Etc……). Projects that are produced and/or directed by men are accepted as long as there is a lead female protagonist and/or the story is based around women.




This film festival caters to more veteran women filmmakers but it is definitely worth attending to make industry connections if you are an aspiring or emerging filmmaker.

FeFF, an international film festival for women directors, bridges the gap between the written, visual, and media arts with an eclectic program of films, script readings, book signings, a photo exhibit, music nights, industry-initiative panels, and best-in-the-biz tributes. FeFF provides an exclusive showcase for Canadian and international independent women filmmakers. We present high-calibre short and feature films in drama, comedy, sci-fi, action, horror, documentary, animation, and experimental genres. The directors and their casts and crews participate in Q & As with audiences following their film screenings. In addition to the annual festival, FeFF also curates film programs throughout the year and produces community-outreach programs to raise awareness of issues that pertain to women.




If you made more of an experimental film then this festival might be up your alley.

They truly see being a filmmaker as being an artist.

The International Les Femmes Underground is a film festival centred on the subversive, unique, and innovative. LEFUFF, showcases artists from all walks of life creating work which redefines the manner in which women are represented in mainstream cinema. Making its debut in 2016, Les Femmes Underground is premiering in Los Angeles as the first ever traveling women’s underground film festival. Les Femmes Underground was created as a response to the decline of feminist icons and role models in the media. As feminists, we believe it is our responsibility to empower new generations of young women to generate work which breaks away from society’s gendered roles. Les Femmes Underground seeks to premier first time under-represented emerging feminist film-makers and artists.




“Reel Women Power” sums up the aim for the FLO Film Festival based in Mumbai, India.

The FLO Film Festival creates a platform to address the representation of women and girls on screen, and exploring – through cinema – the themes unique to this side of the gender spectrum. The Indian and international features, documentaries, animation and short films showcased at the Festival will highlight relevant content dealing with women’s issues, as well as inspiring stories of hope, courage and empowerment. The mission is to start a dialogue breaking down stereotypes, and to enable audiences to become discerning viewers and critically reflect on their media consumption and how it _influences them.




WVN is really a community and collective of women filmmakers that are dedicated to pushing boundaries and opening more doors for women in the industry.

They have organization ambassadors, plan screenings, coordinate college tours, and even provide fiscal sponsorship (which ideal for documentary filmmakers).

A distinctive feature about WVN is that their film festival takes place solely online. This allows more flexibility and diversity for emerging filmmakers to participate.

Their mission statement is as follows:

Women’s Voices Now amplifies the voices of all women by promoting the free expression of women’s struggles for civil, economic, political, and gender rights worldwide. By providing free online platforms for film, art, writing, and social-media activism, we connect people and resources striving for global women’s rights.

Women’s Voices Now fills a critical gap in global efforts seeking to elevate the status of women, especially women who are underrepresented and women with little access to resources. Through the narrative of films, writing, and art featured by Women’s Voices Now, our work continually inspires and challenges women and men to overcome obstacles in the advancement of women.

Through our annual online short-film festival, hosting platforms of written and visual expression, and coordinating community engagement, we foster and enhance the international dialogue on women’s rights and encourage engagement from a worldwide audience.



What do you think about our list? Are there any that you’d like to add, let us know.

We hope that there are a few that have your film’s submission’s name on it!

CJ CHILDRESS is a photographer that keeps true to having a documentary style and an emerging filmmaker that follows that same aesthetic. She can’t wait to go to New Orleans this summer and pretend that she’s filming LEMONADE part II. You can follow her on instagram. 

Shortie of the Week – Kweli Legacy


This week’s feature for Shortie of the Week is “Hostile“. Hostile is a fast paced drama involving the hostage negotiation of a woman who has been pushed to the edge in the most compromising of situations.

Executive Producer: Nikkea Shareè
Essence Magazine Best Selling Author Nikkea Sharee (formerly Nikkea Smithers) has been a multimedia force for over a decade. Her award winning novels span a variety of genres from drama, romance, murder mystery, poetry and even young adult fiction. A noted spoked word artist, she has performed on stages from NY to LA
Director: Ciara J. Lewis
Screenwriter, playwright and director based out of Connecticut. With a successful season adapting the best selling novel “Once You’ve Touched the Heart” by Iris Bolling (praised by USA Today) into a screenplay for CW Richmond, she has developed her love for film. Attending The Los Angeles Film School to transition from writer to director, she is currently working on a number of projects.
Advice to Female filmmakers:
Create your own lane and be diligent about your craft. Stay focused. Don’t compromise. Be yourself.
Show some Love for our Shortie of the Week.
If you are interested in being featured or submitting your short or trailer for consideration check out how here.
Creative Outsiders, xo

Behind the Scenes Blab with Lenore Coer

Check out our First Blab with special Guest Lenore Coer of Coerlesslyink. This is our first behind the scenes blab covering the Topic: Stepping into Filmmaking what’s next?

Hailing from a small town outside of Atlanta, GA, Lenore Coer is a natural-born storyteller. She is self-diagnosed with the middle child syndrome: the forgotten one, the one that was ignored. Because of this, her imagination has always been a place where young girls receive the admiration and acknowledgment that she so desperately wanted to feel growing up.

Her stories reflect the lessons she learned growing up in a Christian, two- parent household, and the secrets she’s carried about life choices, sex and sexuality that she was too afraid to live out aloud. The goal of her writing is to explore the complexities of what it looks and feels like to be a woman of color in today’s world. Lenore paints a picture that most women, no matter where they’re from, can identify with and feel.

Lenore has honed her gifts in front of and behind the camera by completing a B.A. in Spanish from Sewanee: The University of the South, studying acting at The William Esper Studio and completing a screenwriting certificate from The New School, culminating in winning the Rena Down Memorial Award for Screenwriting Excellence.

Lenore wants young girls and women around the world that look and sound like her to see themselves reflected back at them in the media. With her studies behind her, Lenore is ready to delve into the world of screenwriting, determined to make a mark on the industry with her unique style beginning with her newest web-series “Stepford SideChix.”

How Sway, How?

Behind the Scenes Hostile

When I decided to pursue screenwriting I didn’t have a friend, family member or associate that I could consult pertaining to how that journey would look. I had no formal training outside of being an avid journal writer and a published author. I just had a dream and I knew I needed to pursue it.

I opted to take the traditional route and went to school for my Master’s in Screenwriting. I was the lone woman of color who was proudly raising her hand saying I’m a screenwriter (even though I didn’t have a clue about the world of screenwriting).

I survived that process and found myself with my eyes wide opened to the distant fairy land of film and desiring knowledge and experience on the production end. So that meant more school, more loans but still not exact hands on experience.

I knew I had to get some experience in directing and knowing what went into making a film before I started my final project and directed my first documentary. So I decided to reach out to someone who was in the process of producing her film.

In reaching out I kept it short, sweet and to the point. One I didn’t DM her asking to get put on (newsflash DM’s aren’t professional) I showed genuine interest in her project along with letting her know who I was.


After exchanging pleasantries with her I was given the opportunity to be the script supervisor, working on the film set for a week.

Here are some of my takeaways for those of you who are seeking to get your foot in the door.


There are so many local production moments going on in your city. Ask can you work on the set. Even if it’s just assisting with food services. You still can learn so much by paying attention.

Clothing 101.

The first shooting day it was windy and downright cold. Hoodies are your friend with pockets. Pockets are important because you have so many random things that you need to toot along with you. Layers of clothing are a plus and comfortable sneakers or shoes are a major key.


Know Your Job.

When in doubt reference google. The day you step foot on set you should have a good idea of what is expected of you. I also suggest looking at what other jobs do because you may be pulled to assist beyond what your duties are.

Know the Lingo.

Of course everyone has heard quiet on the set. But there are other key terms that are just good to know. So you won’t get blinded by the lights as they are being turned back on.

Pay Attention.

I’m sure you want to ask a million questions but this isn’t necessarily the time to pick the creative brain of the director or the director of photography. They won’t be in the mind frame to do so. Instead pay attention to the gems they offer. Pay attention to the instruction they give you specifically as well as others. During your break, but the notes in your phone and go over them at the end of day. Arriving early may also afford you time to gain more gems.

Don’t think you’re above any job.

If you’re the script supervisor and they need you to work the boom then do it.

Follow the rules.

You are a professional. If you signed an agreement and they asked you for no pictures on the set or disclosing information about the film. Then don’t break the rules. You are not there as a fan put a professional.

Tough Skin.

Thank goodness I had a great experience while working on the film set. It was an awesome crew and cast. However, on my journey as a screenwriter I have run into people who don’t want you to win, those who are rude and others who believe they have arrived. Don’t let someone else stop you from getting to where you desire to be.

And some will be demanding to see if you can handle the pressure. So don’t take it personal.

I could go on and on about my first experience working on a set. But these are some of the keys that stuck out to me. Getting the hands on experience will show you if this is for you or not.


Shivawn Hill is currently in pre-production with her short documentary, Lifting Crowns. She is also trying to figure out how to form a team to help her be the voice of so many women’s untold stories. You can follow her on INSTAGRAM

20 Filmmaking Terms Every Aspiring Filmmaker Needs To Know


20 Filmmaking Terms


20 Filmmaking Terms Every Aspiring Filmmaker Needs To Know

This  little resource is particularly for true aspiring filmmakers. Those of you who didn’t go to film school and who may have zero film credits to your name BUT you are dying to launch your dream, bet BIG on yourself, and enter into the world of filmmaking.

To boost your confidence, you need to know lingo when it’s dropped while you are in negotiation to work on your first film and while you are actually in the throws of working on a film.

These 20 filmmaking terms will give you a frame of reference and allow you to feel somewhat ready (because it will still be a little zany and nerve racking working on your first film) to tackle your first real world introduction into becoming a badass filmmaker.

To keep this easy and organized to read through, this post is divided into three categories: Directing, Writing, and Technical.

These three areas shape films and television. They work in concert during pre, actual, and post production.


Call Sheet

A listing of which actors will be required for which scenes, and when they will be required. 

Shot List

List given to the film crew of all the shots to be filmed during that workday. 

Cut To

It is the transition between shots or scenes while filming. It is often used to help intensify character changes and emotional shifts.  

Establishing Shot

A shot, usually from a distance, that shows us where we are. A shot that suggests location. Often used at the beginning of a film to suggest where the story takes place. For example, if our story takes place in New York, we might use a shot of the Manhattan skyline as an establishing shot.


Unedited rough cuts of the day (or from the previous day) which the director reviews to decide if a re-shoot needs to take place. 


Sequence of pictures created to describe each scene in the film production. Usually indicates camera angle and movement, blocking of actors, and size of the frame. 



It’s the one or two sentence summary of your film that not only conveys your premise, but also gives the reader emotional insight into the story as a whole.


An abridged script; longer than a synopsis. It consists of a summary of each major scene of a proposed movie, and may even include snippets of dialogue.


Many scripts will use the parenthetical (beat) to interrupt a line of dialogue. A “beat” suggests the actor should pause a moment, in silence, before continuing the scene. “Beats” are often interchangeable with ellipses “…”


The text in all CAPS at the beginning of a scene that briefly describes the location and time of day.

For example:


Note: sometimes sluglines are abbreviated to something as simple as “LATER” or “BEDROOM” to maintain the pace and flow of a sequence.


Voice Over. This abbreviation often appears beside a CHARACTER’S name before their dialogue. This means the character voices that dialogue but his or her moving lips are not present in the scene. Voice-over is generally used for narration, such as in the beginning of The Mummy. Or a character’s inner thoughts said out loud such that only the audience will hear.

Shooting Script

The final script which is used for the actual filming. 

Spec Script

If a writer finishes his/her own screenplay outside the studio system (it isn’t an assignment) then sends it to the studios for consideration, it is a spec script. 



A mechanism on which a camera can be moved around a scene or location. Simple dollies involve a tripod on wheels. Dolly shots are moving shots. 


Chief lighting technician who is responsible for designing and creating lighting plan.

Boom Microphone

A long pole with a microphone on the end. Controlled by the “Boom Operator.” 


COMPUTER GENERATED IMAGERY (CGI) The use of 3D graphics and technology to enhance special effects.


Is supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot. In fiction film, it is a technique used to indicate simultaneous action or flashbacks.


Person responsible for the set-up, adjustment and maintenance of production equipment on the set.

Remember these 20 terms because you will hear them tossed around often as you embark on your filmmaker journey.

Did we miss any?

Share terms that you think aspiring filmmakers should know in the comments.

Happy Filmmaking!


CJ Childress is currently in pre-production for a silent short film, a commercial, and several photography projects. She is also trying to figure out how to be the cinematographer for Beyonce’s next video as she writes this post. You can follow her on INSTAGRAM.


Shortie of the Week -Kayona Brown


This week’s feature for Shortie of the Week is “Of Music and Men“. Of Music and Men is an American comedy-drama series that chronicles the life of a young single female entrepreneur and her experiences with men as she tries to succeed in the music business and in love.

Kayona Ebony Brown

As a multi-hyphenate artist, my journey began with the simple desire to tell stories. I was 8 years old when I started on this path. Today, I use a myriad of platforms, from novels and screenwriting, to acting and directing for stage and film. My experiences have contributed to the gift I hope to share with the world and the legacy I plan to leave.

Advice to Female filmmakers:
Allow your voice to tell you who it is. So often we get caught up trying to do what we think people will like or create what we think might sell. But your voice is your own; it’s special. No one else has it. Whether it’s writing, directing, acting, editing, whatever… Give your voice time and space to be YOUR voice, and it’ll become its perfect self.
Show some Love for our Shortie of the Week.
If you are interested in being featured or submitting your short or trailer for consideration check out how here.
Creative Outsiders, xo