Sometimes, it pays not to be white; and at Barnard College at Columbia University, it’s effectively paying $14.
During Spring ’23, the private women’s school will host its annual Athena Film Festival. Its mission, per the official webpage:
The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College celebrates extraordinary films from across the globe that tell the stories of fierce and fearless women leaders. The curated program includes Academy Award nominated films, award winning features and documentaries, NY premieres, shorts and so much more.
Men, move over:
An Athena film is one of defiance, survival, breakthrough, and radical joy that comes from living as yourself. There are many ways to be a leader and there are even more ways to be a leader as a woman. Leadership was defined and continues to be defined by men. Athena Films challenge that narrative and show how women work in and outside of this traditional definition to change what leadership looks like.
“Now in its 13th year,” the site says, “the festival is a project of the Athena Center for Leadership at Barnard College and Women and Hollywood.”
Included among the entry requirements:
- Films must have a woman (girl) or women character(s) in leadership role(s) or position(s).
- Only short films can be submitted (30 minutes or less in length).
- Non-English films must be subtitled.
“Films that don’t focus on women’s leadership,” the page makes clear, “WILL NOT be considered.”
It sounds like a great chance for people pushing a certain sort of film. For those wearing a certain shade of skin, the value proposition diminishes. The festival announces, “Please note: We charge a $14.00 submission fee. Submission fees are non-refundable.”
However, only whites will necessarily be charged; they’re the only race without “extra barriers”:
In recognition of the extra barriers BIWOC artists face in the film industry, we are offering submission fee waivers to films written, directed, or produced by BIWOC (Black, Indigenous, Women Of Color) artists.
The point of all that syntax: There’s a skin tax.
Concerning worth, whiteness — in a word — has withered:
If you’re a Barnard student — white or non- — and you’re looking forward to being debited according to your DNA, that window of opportunity has closed; the entry period has ended. Nonetheless, the “BIWOC Artist Submission Fee Waiver Request” can be viewed here.
It affirms the institution’s devotion to intersectionality:
The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College is committed to practicing and celebrating radical intersectional feminism.
Athena did make available one other type of relief:
We are also offering submission fee waivers to films that have suffered financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perhaps that could apply to everyone of every race. Either way, the aim of equity is laser-focused at schools around America. Maybe white feminist filmmakers at Barnard will experience equal pay once “barriers” cease to find all females but them.
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