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Women-centered Films at the Athena Film Festival

Streaming online during the month of March, the annual Athena Film Festival highlights four new features and four shorts that center on women in STEM. Three of the features received development support or recognition from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: AMMONITE, which stars Kate Winslet as renowned paleontologist Mary Anning; CODED BIAS, Shalini Kantayya's documentary that exposes racial inequalities embedded into comptuer code; and PICTURE A SCIENTIST, a documentary which features women in science who are hoping to change gender-based discrimination.

AMMONITE is a fictional drama based on the life fossil hunter and self-taught paleontologist Mary Anning. For years her significant contributions to the field–discovering Jurassic-age fossils–went unacknowledged largely because of her gender. AMMONITE filmed on location at Anning's home in Lyme Regis, now a museum.

CODED BIAS is a documetnary inspired by the research of MIT Media Lab computer scientist Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justic League which helps expose bias in decision-making software. As the filmmaker Shalini Kantayya told us in an interview, "data rights are really human rights, and you see that for the people who have been harmed by A.I. bias in the film."

The male-dominated culture of science is challenged in the documentary PICTURE A SCIENTIST, which features stories from women in science who have suffered from bias, discrimination, and harassment, and are working to make the field more equitable. Last June, the filmmakers and subjects participated in an online conversation and Q&A which is available to watch.

The Athena Film Festival is run by Barnard College, and has decided to run the month of March this year in celebration of Women's History Month. The entire festival celebrates and elevates women's leadership.

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