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THE FILMS. THE FILMMAKERS.

Since 2000, LUNAFEST has been flipping the script, creating opportunities for women in film. Our talented women directors bring stories from all over the world. Sharing new perspectives, lighting a fire in the industry.

Discover the groundbreaking women from prior seasons, along with this year’s lineup.

NOTE: Films featured in LUNAFEST are not rated but we suggest age 14+ for this season's lineup. The 2020 Season features seven (7) short films with a total program running time of 96 minutes.

2020 season

Purl
By Kristen Lester & Gillian Libbert-Duncan

An earnest ball of yarn gets a job at a fast-paced, high-energy, bro-tastic start-up.

Kristen Lester

Kristen Lester directed the SparkShorts film Purl. In November 2012 she began working at Pixar Animation Studios and was a story artist on The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory, and Pixar’s upcoming film Onward, which is set to release in theaters on March 6, 2020.

She is currently the head of story on an unannounced feature film that is in production, leading a team of story artists in creating storyboards. 

Lester grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she attended Western Canada High School. She graduated from Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, and currently resides in San Francisco. 

Gillian Libbert-Duncan

Gillian Libbert-Duncan produced the SparkShorts film Purl. She joined Pixar Animation Studios in 2006, and during her tenure at Pixar, she was the line producer and department manager for the Academy Award–winning feature film WALL·E. She has served as the department head of editorial, sound, layout, and art and is currently the department head of story. 

Libbert-Duncan was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. Her love for film began at an early age. One of her favorite childhood films was Mary Poppins because it opened her eyes to the unique world of animation and visual effects. She has been exploring those two worlds ever since.

Ballet After Dark
By B. Monét

A young woman finds strength after an attack by creating an organization to help survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence through dance therapy.

B. Monét

Brittany “B. Monét” Fennell is a writer/director who hails from Silver Spring, Maryland. She graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta with a BA in English and holds an MFA from New York University in Film and Television with a concentration in writing and directing. In her films, she poses questions about identity, society, race, and culture. It is vital to her that underrepresented people are shown in film, media, and television.

Her award-winning short film Q.U.E.E.N. has screened at dozens of festivals, including Cannes Short Film Corner, and premiered on Magic Johnson’s channel, ASPiRE. Additionally, she was a runner-up in Women and Hollywood’s First Time Female Filmmakers Contest.

For more about B. Monét, please visit www.bmonetcreations.com.  

There You Are
By Lisa Donato

A trans woman must dress like a man to say goodbye to her dying grandmother. 

Lisa Donato

Lisa Donato is an award-winning director, writer, and activist from Billings, Montana. Since 2014 she has directed six award-winning short films. Her work is dedicated to people and communities relegated to the margins. She has earned a passionate following by telling stories that don’t shy away from the unique struggles of women—queer and straight—focusing on the power, resilience, and love they demonstrate in the face of adversity.

Her upcoming feature film, Gossamer Folds, is about two neighbors with unhappy lives at home who strike up an unexpected friendship during the summer of 1986. The film marks Donato’s feature-length directorial debut and will release to festivals in winter 2020.

She is currently directing a docuseries about drag culture that showcases the real lives of drag queens and queer artists across the United States.

Donato cowrote the feature film Signature Move, which premiered at SXSW in 2017 and screened at more than 150 festivals worldwide; it can currently be found on Amazon Prime. She’s also working on a feature documentary about a group of female artists with disabilities in Denver called The Great Now What. Her mixed-media project, Hobo Salon, provides free haircuts for the homeless community in Austin, Texas, and collects personal experiences through filmed interviews. 

For more about Lisa Donato, please visit www.lisadonato.com.

Xmas Cake —This American Shelf-life 
By Petra Hanson & May Yam

This coming-of-middle-age story follows a pop singer’s journey from hot to not, and what ensues across cultures from New York to Tokyo.

Petra Hanson

Petra Hanson is a writer, producer, and emerging animator from New York. A former international pop star turned activist, storyteller, and filmmaker, Hanson spent her decade-long music career writing pop songs (in Japanese), art-directing her music videos, and curating a persona that earned her band, Gaijin A Go Go, a deal with Sony and unexpected fame in Japan. This chapter of her life later inspired a story that she told live onstage for the storytelling platform The Moth, which became the subject of her first film, Xmas Cake—This American Shelf-Life. Nominated for Best Short Documentary at 2019’s Tribeca Film Festival, Xmas Cake showcases Hanson’s music, her gift for storytelling, and the adept visual language of her animations.

Her degree in photography from Cornell University helped Hanson build her lifelong proficiency in visual art and design. And the time she spent assisting iconic photographer Mary Ellen Mark helped shape her sensibilities and desire to tell fierce stories of adversity and resilience that are often overlooked by the mainstream.

Hanson is the founder and producer of The B/Sider, a live storytelling series and podcast dedicated to celebrating those who forge their own inspiring path after hitting the Top 40. "

May Yam

May Yam is an award-winning Chinese and British director, producer, DP, writer, and editor known for her extraordinary eye for detail. As a visual storyteller and a cultural anthropologist, she brings her prowess to projects ranging from Primetime Emmy–winning news segments to virtual reality films for Rotary International focused on solving humanitarian problems. Yam has filmed and edited weekly shows for Sony Entertainment TV with a viewership of more than 300 million and worked with large commercial clients such as Intel, Vodafone, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Hilton and Marriott Hotels, and San Jose Metro News.

Xmas Cake—directed, produced, and edited by Yam—was nominated for Best Short Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival. Yam has received awards for Best Short Film, Best Cinematography, Best Coolest Effects, and Audience Choice at various film festivals. As CEO and founder of the film production house MY Studios, May is dedicated to making films that inspire, educate, and empower.

Game
By Jeannie Donohoe

A new kid in town shows up at the high school boys’ basketball tryouts and instantly makes an impression. Will talent and drive be enough to make the team?

Jeannie Donohoe

Jeannie Donohoe is an award-winning filmmaker based in New York and Los Angeles. She has written and directed several short films, including Game, which screened at more than 200 festivals and received 70 international awards, including two Oscar-qualifying awards at Raindance and the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF), a Cannes Bronze Lion, and a Vimeo Staff Pick. Lambing Season was selected for more than 50 film festivals and was a winner at Aspen Shortsfest. In addition, online publication IndieWire named Lambing Season one of the Best Short Films of 2014, and it was featured on the PBS series Film School Shorts. Her film Public was shown at Palm Springs ShortFest and on the PBS series ImageMakers.

Donohoe was selected from among more than 4,600 applicants to write and direct Game through the Lexus Short Films program.

Donohoe earned her MFA with honors in Directing from Columbia University. She attended Dartmouth College as an undergraduate and earned an MS in Education while teaching middle school in the Bronx through the Teach for America program. Donohoe is currently developing her first feature-length film.  

Lady Parts
By Erin Rye & Jessica Sherif

A struggling actor finally gets her big break, only to realize the glass ceiling can also be a camera lens.

Erin Rye

Erin Rye is a writer/director with an unyielding commitment to comedy and social justice. She's worked across formats with the same goal: to make people laugh, gasp, and think about their choices. She has directed the Web shorts Super Single, Seeking: Non-Speaking, and Lou. Up next for Rye is writing and producing a queer female love story where nobody comes out and nobody dies.

She has also written multiple television comedy pilots and is the producer, creator, and co-host of the comedy, pop culture, and politics podcast Erin and Aliee HATE Everything. You can catch her as an actor on HBO’s Veep and Hulu’s Dimension 404 as well as numerous Web series, shorts, and commercials.

Rye holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

For more about Erin Rye, please visit www.erin-rye.com.

Jessica Sherif

Jessica Sherif is an Algerian-Canadian director whose work unites captivating visuals with emotionally impactful stories and unapologetically human characters. Her film Hollywoodland is currently in post-production. It stars Yetide Badaki (American Gods) and Karen David (Fear The Walking Dead). Her directing credits include the short films You Again and Twinning, the pilot for Real Housewives of The Oregon Trail, and branded videos for companies like Soul Pancake.

Sherif is developing a documentary series with Time Studios. Previously, she produced the Netflix series Ultimate Beastmaster, was development director for Creature Films at Entertainment One, and spent years writing, producing, and directing the Emmy Award–winning investigative series Dan Rather Reports.

Sherif was recently selected into the 2019 Women In Film Mentoring Program for directors. She holds two law degrees from McGill University and a master’s degree from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She is also a graduate of the Upright Citizens Brigade. She speaks fluent French and Spanish.

For more about Jessica Sherif, please visit www.jessicasherif.com.

How to Swim
By Noa Gusakov

In the last days of her pregnancy, a terrified mother-to-be kidnaps a maternal stranger for an afternoon of hijinks.

Noa Gusakov

Noa Gusakov is an award-winning filmmaker currently based in Tel Aviv, Israel. Gusakov is a graduate of the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School. Her writing and directing credits include five short films: Walking Up, Lookout, Sabbatical, Large Soldier, and How to Swim, which have collectively screened at more than 100 film festivals and won more than 17 international awards. She developed the screenplay for Large Soldier at the Berlinale Short Form Station, and the Israeli Academy Awards nominated Large Soldier for Best Short Film. Her short film How to Swim had its international premiere at the Palm Springs ShortFest and was selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick.

In recent years Gusakov earned fellowships from the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire and from Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York. She is currently working as a screenwriter and director for TV productions and developing her debut feature film.