Girls' Night Out: Women's film festival returns to Prescott

“How To Be Alone,” above, and  “Missed Connections,” below, are among the short subjects being screened at “Lunafest: Short Films By, For, About Women” starting 7 p.m. Thursday at the Elks Opera House in Prescott.
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Courtesy photos

“How To Be Alone,” above, and “Missed Connections,” below, are among the short subjects being screened at “Lunafest: Short Films By, For, About Women” starting 7 p.m. Thursday at the Elks Opera House in Prescott. <br> Courtesy photos

The film industry, it appears, remains a man's world.

Women populated 18 percent of creative roles in the 250 highest-domestic-grossing films of 2011, according to San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

That disparity is one reason Courtney Osterfelt, founder and director of Prescott-based Women's Empowerment Breakthrough, is excited to bring nine shorts to Prescott via Lunafest: Short Films By, For, About Women.

"It's rare you get to see so many original films written or directed by women at one time," Osterfelt said. "It's always been inspirational."

The festival - 7 p.m. Thursday at the Elks Opera House, 117 E. Gurley St. in Prescott - is set up as a fundraising arm of Luna, the nutrition bar created under the Clif Bar & Company umbrella.

Tickets cost $15 for general admission and $8 students and children.

Women's Empowerment Breakthrough gets 85 percent of the profits. The rest go to the Breast Cancer Fund. Since its inception 11 years ago, Lunafest has raised roughly $785,000 for community nonprofits and $456,000 for the Breast Cancer Fund. (Some groups donate their money from the former pool to the latter, which is why the numbers don't reflect the same proportion.

The event usually nets about $2,000 for Women's Empowerment Breakthrough, Osterfelt said, noting that it's been held locally a handful of times before, but didn't run last year.

"Our organization is entirely volunteer run, so every single dollar that's paid goes to teenage girls in this community," she said.

This year's annual three-day retreat and conference for girls 13-18 starts the day after the festival.

"That usually costs around $7,000, so this covers roughly a third of those costs and scholarships for some of the 50-70 girls to attend," Osterfelt said.

That's nearly five times as many girls as those who attend the nonprofit's weekly programming.

Savannah Martin, a sophomore at the University of Arizona previously attended the retreat as a student at Prescott High School.

"As a student, I was surprised at the diversity of the conference - not only the things we learned and did, but the different socio-economic backgrounds of the people there," said Martin, who also volunteered as a counselor and speaker last year. "We really came together and got along like sisters by the end."

Come to think of it, that's pretty much the same experience she had at previous incarnations of the film festival.

"Some of the movies were really funny, and other ones were really serious, but they all told stories with feminist overtones you don't see in the mainstream film industry," Martin said, adding, "Lunafest showed me there are films and directors addressing these things out there in our community."

The films are "Every Mother Counts: Obstetric Fistula," "How To Be Alone," "I am a Girl!" "Lady Razorbacks," "Life Model," "Missed Connections," "Reluctant Bride, A," "The Wind is Blowing on My Street" and "Worst Enemy."

The box office opens at 6 p.m. Half an hour later, doors open and live music begins.

Call Courtney Osterfelt, 350-2298 or 632-2996, for more information about the Lunafest film festival or Women's Empowerment Breakthrough's annual three-day retreat, which begins Friday.

Visit womensempowerment.wordpress.com, www.lunafest.org and www.elksoperahouse.com to find out more about the events and organizations in this article.