The Luna bar people give us a great little film festival every year that takes place all over the country. It’s called Lunafest and features short films by women filmmakers. The fest is in its 19thyear, but in my town — Reading, PA — it’s only in its third year. We got on board late, but we got on with enthusiasm.
Carol Toomey, local organizer, brought the festival to her chapter of the AAUW for the first time in 2018. I caught the event last year and was duly impressed and thought I’d talk to Ms. Toomey a bit about it. Here we go:
Sue Lange: Describe Lunafest for me.
Carol Toomey: It’s a traveling film festival for women filmmakers — short film only — with animation, documentary, and narrative films. It’s designed to be a fundraiser for organizations that support local women’s causes. The main beneficiary is Chicken and Egg Films which in turn supports female documentarians.
Most of the films in the Lunafest line-up deal with gender issues, body image, women’s health, relationships, diversity and so on. Our event will be held on March 8that 3pm at the Wachovia Theater at Albright. We’ll start with a reception at 3pm and then screen the films at 4. A lively discussion will follow. The films are thought-provoking and people will want to discuss the issues brought up in the films.
Sue Lange: You had mentioned to me previously about a free screening for students. When is that?
Carol Toomey: Same day, 7 pm at night. Same theater and it is free of charge for students and they’ll get credit for attending.
Sue Lange: How many different cities have a Lunafest event?
Carol Toomey: Over 200 across the country. The lineup is the same for each event. There’s a Lunafest committee that chooses the lineup from all the submissions. Submissions can be done through the Lunafest site: lunafest.org or through FilmFreeway. The entry fee is quite low at $15 for an early bird entry (deadline for earlybird is Feb. 29: get it in!). Each film that is selected will receive $2500.
Sue Lange: You also mentioned that each event is a fundraiser. Who is the beneficiary of the event here in Reading?
Carol Toomey: The local chapter of AAUW — American Association of University Women — which exists to create awareness of women’s issues. So a lot of people benefit.
Sue Lange: And what other organizations are involved with your event?
Carol Toomey: The local student chapter of N.O.W. (National Organization for Women), Albright’s Department of Women and Gender Studies. Albright catering is helping with food and Sweet Street Desserts has donated to the event.
Sue Lange: Oh wow. That alone is worth the price of a ticket. How did you get involved in the first place?
Carol Toomey: I was visiting my daughter, Colleen in LA. She’s an actress out there. While we were out somewhere I stumbled across a postcard advertising the local Lunafest event. It looked interesting so I talked Colleen in going. I was really impressed and brought the idea of hosting a Lunafest back to my AAUW chapter. They were warm to the idea and we approached Albright College with the idea. They loved it
Our first year we filled about half the theater. The following year (last year) we sold out. This year we’ve moved to a bigger venue, the Wachovia Theater at Albright (13thand Bern, 19604).
Sue Lange: That’s amazing. What do you attribute such a rapid rise in audience size to?
Carol Toomey: It’s mostly word of mouth. People don’t have any idea what they’re in for the first time they go. They think they’re not going to see real films because they’re not feature length. But they come away amazed by the experience — the great films, the camaraderie. They can’t wait to tell their friends.
Sue Lange: It is exhilarating. Where do the films come from?
Carol Toomey: All over, but mainly New York and LA. This year we have one coming from Tel Aviv even.
Sue Lange: Well, I’m looking forward to the event. There’s a couple of comedies that look hilarious and the whole lineup is first rate with some serious filmmakers on board (https://www.lunafest.org/filmmakers). I need to head over to Eventbrite and get my ticket now!
Carol Toomey: Yes you do.
Sue Lange: Thanks for talking about Lunafest2020. Good luck, Carol, with the event.
Carol Toomey: Thank you, See you there.
Date: March 8, 2pm (student screening 7pm)
Location: Albright College’s Wachovia Theater and mezzanine, 13thand Bern Streets, Reading, PA 19604
Ticket prices: $25/advanee: $30/door.
And don’t forget to check out the trailer for Dust Nuggets when you’re ambling around the web.