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LUNAFEST Oklahoma connects women and others through film

By Darla Shelden
Contributing Writer

For the fourth year, the Work of Women (WOW!) program at World Neighbors recently hosted LUNAFEST, a traveling festival of short films by, for and about women. The event was held at Oklahoma City’s Plaza District area’s Lyric Theater.

In its 12th year nationally, LUNAFEST is a creation of LUNA, the makers of the whole nutrition bar for women and a division of Clif Bar & Company.

LUNAFEST was created to simultaneously promote women filmmakers, raise awareness for women’s issues, and support the Breast Cancer Fund and local non-profits that help women.

The WOW! Program at Oklahoma City-based World Neighbors is the local beneficiary of LUNAFEST. 100 percent of all net proceeds for the Oklahoma City event go to support WOW and the Breast Cancer Fund.
From a documentary about maternal healthcare problems and a film about missed chances at romance to a comedy about the trials of an unwed woman pressured to find a husband, the films are full of reflection and whimsy, hope and humor, grace and perseverance.

This year’s LUNAFEST was co-chaired by two Oklahoma film advocates Cacky Poarch and Tracey Zeeck. Poarch spent eight years as executive director of deadCENTER Film Festival in Oklahoma City and is event coordinator of the Okie Noodling Tournament in Pauls Valley. She also volunteers with the Oklahoma City Arts Commission and Arts Council of Oklahoma City.

“I was on the committee for the inaugural year of LUNAFEST,” said Poarch. “It’s consistently very good film programming and it’s for a great cause.”

Zeeck currently serves on the board of deadCENTER Film Festival and is an active volunteer with the Arts Council of Oklahoma City, City Arts Center, Putnam City Academy Alternative High School and World Neighbors.

“The quality of these films is so good,” said Tracey Zeeck. “The films may be about woman, but they are such high quality that anyone who appreciates film will love these documentaries. LUNAFEST is a good primer for the deadCENTER film festival here in Oklahoma City because it gets you into the spirit of independent film.”

Poarch has just completed a film titled the ‘Reawakening of Meade.’ “The film is about my son, Meade, who had a very scary, life threatening health situation a year ago,” said Poarch.’ “He came out of it great and actually his recovery was unexplainable and that’s what the film is about. In the film I interviewed several people, Tracy included, that were a part of that journey with me. It will premiere at the deadCenter film festival, which is always the second weekend in June.”

Established in 2000 by LUNA, the makers of the Whole Nutrition Bar for Women, LUNAFEST connects women, their stories and their causes through film. This traveling film festival spotlights the work of a diverse array of talented women filmmakers with intelligent, funny and thought-provoking themes.
LUNAFEST is built to be used as a “fundraiser-in-a-box”, helping hosts raise money for nonprofits in their communities, as well as for the main beneficiary, the Breast Cancer Fund.

Since its inception, LUNAFEST has grown from a single annual event to a coast-to-coast force with more than 150 North American screenings each season. To date, 92 filmmakers have been featured, nearly $1.2 million dollars has been raised and thousands of attendees have been moved, entertained and inspired.
This season’s program was comprised of nine selected films united by a common thread of exceptional storytelling by, for and about women.

Part of the Every Mother Counts educational campaign, ‘Obstetric Fistula’ is a film that looks at one of the most common morbidities resulting from poor maternal health care. Interviews conducted in Bangladesh and Tanzania shed light on this deadly yet preventable birth complication that affects between 50,000-100,000 women each year. By focusing on real women’s stories, Every Mother Counts seeks to create a mainstream maternal health movement that improves the lives and well-being of mothers worldwide.

Another poignant film, ‘I am a Girl!’ tells the story of Joppe, a 13-year-old girl who dreams of the object of her affection, Brian, but struggles about how to tell him that she was born a boy. ‘I Am a Girl!’ shows audiences a brave young person unafraid to stand up for herself and to be who she truly believes she was meant to be.

‘How to be Alone’ is a vivid collaboration between filmmaker Andrea Dorfman and spoken word artist Tanya Davis that uses music, poetry and animated images to explore the state of being alone. The film addresses the fundamental fact that we are all alone in some way, and confronts our feelings of loneliness with humor, hope and measured reflection.

Other 2012 LUNAFEST films include Life Model, Missed Connections, A Reluctant Bride, The Wing is Blowing on my Street, Lady Razorbacks and Worst Enemy.

“We didn’t want audiences to be scared off thinking these films are just for women, because they are for everyone,” said Zeeck. “If you can move someone in a short amount of time and make them feel like they are part of the story, then you’ve done your job.”

The WOW! membership program at World Neighbors mobilizes women in support of a better life for their counterparts in isolated villages throughout the world. Through involvement with WOW!, members facilitate the creation of women’s savings and credit groups, invest in women’s leadership for equity in community decision making, and support women contributing to the health and livelihood of their families.

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