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NEW YORK  (October 16, 2019) –  The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College (AFF), a joint initiative of Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies and the initiative Women and Hollywood, announced screenwriter Denise Meyers as its inaugural Alfred P. Sloan Athena List Development Grant winner. Meyers’ Lucky 13 script was a 2016 Athena List finalist, and tells the incredible true story of the only all-female airbase in American history, powered by unforgettable women who came from all walks of life to play a significant role in the war effort, sacrificing everything to save the B-26 Marauder aircraft from the scrap heap before being unceremoniously disbanded to make room for male civilian pilots hoping to avoid the draft. As the winner of this grant, Meyers will receive $20,000 to help advance her script to the next stage of development. The Festival will host a reception and live script-reading on October 29 at Barnard College in New York City.

Earlier this year, AFF announced its partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support the development and distribution of inspiring films like Lucky 13 about women in STEM. The program supports talented filmmakers and screenwriters dedicated to telling these stories — many of whom have been overlooked by history. It is an ongoing goal of AFF to draw attention to female-focused scripts through its talent development initiative, the Parity Pipeline Program, which includes screenwriting labs, master classes, the Athena List, and has now expanded to funding opportunities. The Sloan Grant places emphasis on stories dedicated to showcasing the diversity and resilience of women in STEM, which is an area of great importance to Barnard College and AFF.

“We could not be more honored that the first time the Festival has awarded funds is with this grant to Denise,” said Melissa Silverstein, Athena Film Festival co-founder and artistic director and founder of Women and Hollywood. “We are excited by our partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and are so proud to support the filmmakers who are developing stories that feature women in STEM.”

“We are delighted to partner with AFF in honoring Denise’s Lucky 13 as the inaugural winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Athena List Development grant,” said Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at Sloan. “This award forms part of a major new initiative to support some of the most promising screenwriters today who are writing stories about women in STEM — women who have often been overlooked or overshadowed. From previous projects such as Hidden Figures and Bombshell: The Hedy Lamar Story to upcoming projects about Orville and Wilbur’s underappreciated sister Katie Wright and pioneering pathologist and LGBTQ icon Louise Pearce, Sloan has long championed these kinds of stories as well as increasing the number of female filmmakers.”

“I am beyond grateful to the Sloan Foundation and the Athena Film Festival for recognizing and advocating for a story about some of the most remarkable — and overlooked — women I have ever known,” said Meyers. “The significance of the Sloan development grant in partnership with the Athena Film Festival is about so much more than Lucky 13. It’s about the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots and a story that not only deserves to be told but is long overdue.”

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Film Program encourages filmmakers to create realistic and compelling stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers. This partnership with AFF is uniquely focused on challenging stereotypes about women in these fields and broadening our understanding of what leadership can look like.

The 10th annual Athena Film Festival will take place February 27 to March 1, 2020, on Barnard’s campus in New York City.

The 2020 festival co-chairs include Amma Asante, J.J. Abrams P’22, Debra Martin Chase, Geralyn Dreyfous, Sherry Lansing, Jon Levin P’13, Katie McGrath P’22, Pat Mitchell, Sheila Nevins ’60, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Regina K. Scully, and Rachel Weisz.

Tickets and passes will be on sale soon. Visit the Athena Film Festival’s website for regular updates and announcements and to purchase passes. Finalists for the Alfred P. Sloan Athena List Development grant were Hedy by Giovanni Porta, The Sky’s the Limit: The Story of the Mercury 13 by The Burton Sisters, and A Noble Affair by Anil Baral and Kathryn Maughan.



The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College is a weekend of inspiring films that tell the extraordinary stories of fierce and fearless female leaders from all walks of life — stories of ambition, courage, and resilience. We amplify the voices and stories of strong, bold women, curating a public discourse on gender equality and changing the cultural conventions surrounding leadership. As the only film festival specifically focused on women’s leadership, the Athena Film Festival provides a forum for dialogue about and an opportunity to showcase what it means to be a powerful woman today, inspiring women and girls in the process.



The Athena Center for Leadership Studies is a catalyst for the education, development, and advancement of inspired and courageous women leaders


Women and Hollywood educates, advocates, and agitates for gender parity across the entertainment industry. Over the last 12 years, it has grown to be one of the most respected sites focused on women’s issues and popular culture, and its founder, Melissa Silverstein, has become a well-respected leader on the subject.


Barnard provides a singular educational experience, as a world-renowned college focused on excellence across the arts and sciences, with all the academic resources of Columbia University and the City of New York as an extended classroom. Founded in 1889, Barnard was one of the few colleges in the nation where women could receive the same rigorous and challenging education available to men. Today, Barnard is one of the most selective academic institutions in the country and remains devoted to empowering extraordinary women to become even more exceptional.


The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation makes grants in science, technology, and economic performance. Sloan’s program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theater and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience. The Foundation has supported over 620 film projects via screenplay development programs with the Sundance Institute, the Tribeca Film Institute, Film Independent, SFFILM, the Black List, the Athena Film Festival, and the North Fork TV Festival, and with annual awards in screenwriting and film production from six of the nation’s leading film schools plus six new film schools this year. For more information, visit or follow the Foundation on Twitter and Facebook at @SloanPublic.


Artemis Rising Foundation is dedicated to supporting projects that transform our culture through media, education, and the arts. Founder & CEO: Regina K. Scully.


The Athena Film Festival is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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