Arts & Events » Movies

Grope for Luna

Fundraising festival features films by, for and about women.

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A woman discovers she can literally sculpt her flesh any way she likes, putting a whole new spin on getting ready for a date in Sandy Widyanata's award-winning short film, “Plastic.” 

A Brazilian woman comes into her own by celebrating her African hair in a culture that only values hair that “swings” in Kat Monsoor's “A Vida Politica.”

People of all ages relay their confused and hilarious first understanding of exactly where babies come from in the Sundance entry, “The Kinda Sutra,” by Academy Award winner Jessica Yu.

These and seven other short films running about 10 minutes each will be screened at Richmond's fourth annual LUNAFEST at the Weinstein JCC. 

“The films are by, for and about women. … some of them are hilarious,” says Rachel Pustilnik, owner of Stroller Strides Richmond, a fitness program for mothers with young children and one of the hosts of LUNAFEST. There's comedy, drama and documentary, she says — some with animation.

Established by the nutrition bar company Luna, the film festival is dedicated to championing women filmmakers and giving local nonprofits a vehicle for raising money. All proceeds go to charity because of the donations of community sponsors, with 15 percent going to the Breast Cancer Fund, a national nonprofit that focuses on prevention of the disease. During a reception and silent auction preceding the films, there will be an area with information on toxins in cosmetics, food and children's toys.  Education on the benefits of thermal imaging versus mammograms also will be available. 

The local recipient of the remaining funds is the grassroots Neighborhood Resource Center. “The whole Luna philosophy is about building community, building relationships in the community,” says Audrey Kane, leader of the Richmond mountain bike team sponsored by Luna. “It's about education, awareness and inspiring women to be active and I think that fits with the [Neighborhood Resource Center] very well.”

Dedicated to serving the Greater Fulton Hill community, the center's history and accomplishments read like a feel-good blockbuster: A former post office was purchased using money raised from neighborhood bake sales, fish fries and yard sales and now offers, among other things, a sliding-scale Montessori preschool, health and wellness programs, computer labs for job seekers, GED instruction, and cooking classes using the organic produce grown by the children in an after-school program.

There's also a recording studio for teens tied into a literacy program. “The teens saw what used to be the men's locker room and said this could be an amazing recording studio,” says Annette Cousins, the center's co-executive director. “We wrote some grants and got funding for it and they drew the sketches of what we would need. … and they are just amazed that they have seen this from the very beginning. … They have seen what their neighbors can do to change it into a vibrant space for their community. They feel empowered now because they have seen what can be done by people getting together and working towards a goal.”

Included in the event's ticket price is a wine bar and a buffet with chocolate fountain, catered by Golden Touch; the children from the center will make the table centerpieces. “It's an interesting event,” Pustilnik says. “It can attract two crowds of people. … people who want to give back to the community and people who are into film.” Call it a girls' night out with a conscience. S

LUNAFEST will be held Saturday, March 13, at the Weinstein JCC. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets $25-30. VIP ticket $75. Information at LUNAFESTrichmond.org.

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