Attention Female Screenwriters


The Athena Film Festival (AFF) announced today that it is partnering with IRIS to present the inaugural Athena IRIS Screenwriting Lab. This unique lab, offered as part of the 2017 program, is open to female writers with scripts focusing on strong and courageous female characters. The Athena Film Festival, an annual celebration of women and leadership co-founded by the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College and Women and Hollywood, will return for its seventh year February 9-12, 2017.

The Athena IRIS Screenwriting Lab is designed for female writers who have not yet had a script produced. Screenplays must be feature-length narratives and include one or more strong female characters in a leadership role at the center of the story. Submissions are open October 1-31, after which eight to ten finalists will be chosen by a committee. Four winners will be notified in January 2017.

Since its inception in 2013, IRIS has sought to amplify the female voice through narrative film. Founders Elizabeth Kaiden, Kyle Ann Stokes and Nitza Wilon created The Writers Lab, co-produced by New York Women in Film & Television and funded by Meryl Streep, to develop screenplays written by women over 40. IRIS is committed to expanding its efforts to support and promote female screenwriters and other women in film.
“We are thrilled to partner with IRIS, an incredible organization whose dedication to promoting women’s voices in film is inspiring and folds perfectly into our goals at the Athena Film Festival,” said Melissa Silverstein, Athena Film Festival co-founder and artistic director and founder of Women and Hollywood. “We are always looking to develop new voices, and with the partnership of IRIS we are excited about the scripts we will be working on in our 2017 lab.”

The Athena Film Festival is at the forefront in addressing gender inequality in film. This is our mission as well, so this partnership feels like kismet,” said Elizabeth Kaiden, co-founder of IRIS.  “While the volume of public discourse is up, the numbers are not. There’s still work to be done. And when two goddesses get together, they’re bound to have an impact.”

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Submissions are currently open for the 2017 Athena IRIS Screenwriting Lab.


Now in its seventh year, The Athena Film Festival is four days of inspiring films that honor courageous and audacious women in real life and the fictional world. The curated program includes features, documentaries, and shorts directed by both women and men. The festival also created the Athena List, an annual slate of 3-5 screenplays with female leaders or strong female protagonists that have yet to be made into films. The four-day festival, which includes conversations with directors, producers and actors, as well as activities for filmmakers, will be held February 9 – 12, 2017 in NYC at Barnard College. The Founding Sponsor of the Athena Film Festival is The Artemis Rising Foundation, Regina K. Scully, Founder and CEO.


IRIS is an organization of women filmmakers founded in New York City by Kyle Ann Stokes, Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon to champion the female voice through narrative feature film.


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