Girls Impact the World Film Festival is back: local film festival empowers young filmmakers around the world – screens


Austin is no stranger to festivals, and with the spring festival season in full swing, the Girls Impact the World Film Festival is filling more than just a gap in the calendar.

See with their own eyes: “Breaking the Mold,” which screened at the Girls Impact the World Film Festival in 2013, represents the kind of new visions that the festival supports. The festival and conference for young female directors returns for its seventh year this Sunday.

The 7th edition of GITWFF will feature panels, screenings and performances with a focus on women. The festival (this Sunday at Episcopal School in St. Andrew’s Dell Fine Arts Center) invites high school and junior filmmakers to showcase their three- to six-minute short films that focus on issues of women around the world – ranging from violence against women, beauty and empowerment to sex trafficking and immigration. (The festival hosts films from previous years on their YouTube page, if you want to see the incredible work of young filmmakers.)

ConnectHer, a local non-profit organization dedicated to helping women around the world, launched the festival in 2012 as a way for young female directors around the world to not only screen their films in front of a festival audience, but also to present their work to distinguished judges, who will award up to $ 25,000 in scholarships. This year’s panel includes actors Nikki Reed (Thirteen, dusk) and Ian Somerhalder (Vampire diary) and Austin film producer Elizabeth Avellán. Since the inception of the festival, the association has awarded $ 150,000 to the winners: this year, the festival received entries from 42 countries, and from that list, 30 films were chosen to be screened on Sunday. These shorts by young filmmakers will compete for the grand prize, but other categories include People’s Choice, Global Impact, Best Film Production, and more.

Lila Igram, Founder of ConnectHer, said. As always, we were so impressed with the passion and range of film submissions across the United States and the world. More than 200 girls – and 39 young men who participated – use their creativity and activism to draw attention to issues that impact women – and communities – around the world.

“It is extremely important to validate the voices of these young women and men filmmakers who are already so strong,” said Eloise DeJoria, philanthropist and sponsor of the festival. “Cinema is a great way to reach large numbers of people and has the potential to change the lives of everyone involved for the better.”

Meeting the filmmakers and seeing their films are some of DeJoria’s favorite things about the festival. “Their perspectives help us open our eyes to so much,” she said.

In addition to the screenings, Sunday’s festivities will also feature panels of accomplished female directors. The first event of the day is a discussion on “Storytelling for Social Impact” with producer Effie T. Brown (Real women have curves, Dear Whites), author Gay Gaddis, writer / director / producer Sharon Arteaga and Nioma Narissa Sadler, founder of WomenServe, an organization that helps marginalized women tell their stories through film. The second panel features Troublemaker Studios co-owner and GITWFF judge Elizabeth Avellán, women’s health pioneer Edna Adan and Umaimah Mendhro, founder and CEO of VIDA, a company designed to create quality products and clothing.


Girls Impact the World Film Festival, April 14, 11 am-8pm, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School Dell Fine Arts Center, 5901 Southwest Parkway. Tickets available now on www.connecther.org/gitw.


Gladys T. Hensley

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