By Carley Stavis

The UCSC Women’s Center will provide an opportunity for Santa Cruz residents to be entertained while supporting two important causes—the grueling fight against breast cancer, and the grueling fight to see women represented in independent media.

On Saturday, January 26th, the female-bent film festival Lunafest 2008 will take place at the Rio theatre at 7 p.m. Lunafest is composed of nine short films, all by, about, or for women; it provides a platform for local organizations to earn money while allowing female filmmakers, producers, writers, and actors exposure in over 100 venues nation-wide every year.

The Santa Cruz Lunafest is being put on by UC Santa Cruz’ Women’s Center and WomenCARE, a Santa Cruz center where women dealing with cancer can find help and support services.

These local organizations, in conjunction with The Breast Cancer Fund, will get 100 percent of the proceeds from ticket sales for the event.

Given the organizations at the receiving end of the money raised, Lunafest will certainly benefit women locally and nationally, but the festival’s support of women in the independent media should not be glossed over.

Sophia Kaylani, the Program Manager from LUNA who is in charge of organizing Lunafest every year, wanted to make clear what Lunafest means for women filmmakers from an artistic standpoint.

“Women are severely underrepresented in the film industry, but at Lunafest, they are 100 percent of the talent and work behind the films shown,” she said.

With Lunafest as a platform, numerous filmmakers from different age groups, races, social classes, and educational levels have been able to screen films representing an often-unseen perspective.

Marketing manager for Lunafest 2008, Brooke Golden, drove this point home: “Less than 5 percent of the top 250 highest-grossing films every year come from women. But when you watch the films at Lunafest, you’re watching something new and unique, and you can clearly see that women can make wonderful things happen in the film industry when given the chance.”

The festival also proudly functions with a highly inclusive spirit: any woman with a message and a camera has the opportunity to have her film shown to more than 20,000 festivalgoers each year.

Fourth-year UCSC film major Megan Orr, who plans on submitting a film herself sometime in the future, is a student intern at the Women’s Center. She is highly supportive of what the projects represents and the opportunities it presents women

“Women can submit films on anything, and in any style they want,” she said. “These films reveal another side of film, a side that’s rarely shown or publicized in mass media. The films come from women of all ages and cover every kind of empowering topic.”

LUNA is currently accepting submissions of short films made by women to be screened throughout 2009. A panel of 12 notable women in the film industry will review the films, and the nine films with the top reviews will each win a $1,000 cash prize and the opportunity to be screened nationally.

From the ordinary people who attend Lunafest, to the people who organize it, and the women whose films make their way across the country because of it, attitudes toward the festival are generally positive. For Liz Blazer, director of Backseat Bingo, which screened at Lunafest in 2005-2006, “Lunafest really stands for something different among festivals—it has tremendous heart, and it creates amazing legs that carry your film to the outer edges of community, off the typical festival path. I applaud Lunafest for its grassroots values: growing community and celebrating women’s voices in film.”

_Students can purchase tickets for $5 in advance at the UCSC Ticket Office and the WomenCARE office, or at the door for $10. The first film will begin at 7pm, January 26._

_For more information on the films screening, films screened in past years, or how to submit an entry, visit www.lunafest.org._