LUNAFEST Short Film Festival has stories for everyone
By: Terry Rader
Hirsch Wellness Network is proud to host its 10th annual LUNAFEST on May 23 from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Community Theatre of Greensboro. This ticketed fundraising event is open to the general public (ages 13 and up suggested) with a complimentary beverage and popcorn. LUNAFEST features films with a total running time of 85 minutes, “by, for and about women,” but men return each year as well. There is also a pay-it-forward ticket gifting for cancer patients for those who wish to make it possible for someone else to attend.
LUNAFEST, the first all-women traveling film festival began in 2000 by LUNA Bar. LUNAFEST will screen across 175 cities with audiences expected to reach 25,000 this year.
The eight films and directors for 2019 are Flip the Record by Marie Jamora, The Final Show by Dana Nachman, My Immigrant Story by Yuriko Gamo Romer, War Paint by Katrelle N. Kindred, Drummer Girl by Sophie Hexter, Are We Good Parents? by Bola Ogun, Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday by Jackie Files, and UR Dead to Me by Yonoko Li.
President and founder of Hirsch Wellness Network Louise Grape said that 110 people attended the viewing last year and they are excited to offer an actual theatre venue this year with a seating capacity of 160. She said that all of the funding for this community event goes toward Hirsch Wellness Network’s healing arts programs for classes that are free of charge to cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.
Grape said that LUNA handles packaging and sending the films to the hosts and that HWN and other hosts pay $350 directly to LUNA’s nonprofit of choice, Chicken and Eggs Productions, which provides mentorship and critical financial support to female nonfiction filmmakers. She said that the whole thing is a “complete giving circle” and even though the films are about women, it is a must-see for men.
Grape said she attended LUNAFEST years ago and felt that the healing power of listening to other’s stories made a difference on the journey from illness to wellness. She didn’t recall the name of the particular film, but the story of a Syrian family living in a tent city told through the eyes of a young girl and her friends remain with her to this day.
The film showed that no one was separated by class or race in the tent city and that even though they didn’t want to be living that kind of life, it had changed them as people. It showed that they were all connected by their shared experience.
Hirsch Wellness Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has been dedicated to building a cancer support community that connects cancer patients and survivors, caregivers, family, and friends with creative tools and self-care strategies providing emotional support during treatment into survivorship and beyond since 2008.
Grape has walked the journey with cancer touching her life through her sister, her mother and herself. She created HWN to honor her mother and others so that they could have a place to come where they could be honest with what they are going through.
“We try to be there for the whole person,” she said. “Hospitals provide the physical and clinical side of things. Often when people ask about cancer, they don’t know what to do with the information when it is shared. Many who have cancer or have loved ones with cancer put on a happy face. No happy face is needed here. I observed this as a 9-year-old when my mother died in 1973, and when my sister had ovarian cancer and died in 2015, and again when I was diagnosed with cancer right after my marriage.”
A breast cancer survivor, Grape is still here and happily married 30 years later.
Hirsch Wellness Network’s mission “believes that regular artistic practice relieves stress, enhances mindfulness, and can generally improve health outcomes. Making art connects us to a profound source of creative flow; we are invited to enter an inner dialogue between ourselves and the materials, which can open up avenues for emotional expression shown to decrease stress and depression.”
HWN instructors are growing and include Mary Beth Boone, Catherine Crowder, Elaine Heinl, Jacqui Mehring, Bonnie Mcleod Hitchcock, Leanne Pizio, Terry Brown, Dena Goldman, Victoria Clegg, Molly Haile, Mavis Liggett, and Jack Stratton.
“We are always looking for area experts to bring a healing arts teaching approach for those touched by cancer,” Grape said. “Volunteers are also a major part of our support network, and more are welcome to help with events, classes and clerical needs.”
To learn more about attending or teaching an HWN class in “a place to be fearless,” see the list of classes online and contact program manager Ginger Lambrecht at (336) 209-0259.
TERRY RADER is a freelance or for-hire writer/editorial/copy/digital content, former creative director/ strategist, storyteller, poet, wellness herbalist, flower essences practitioner, and owner of Paws n’ Peace o’ Mind cat/dog/house sitting.
May 23 from 7-9:30 p.m., Tickets $25 (ages 13 and up suggested) at Community Theatre of Greensboro, 520 S. Elm St. Greensboro, (336) 333-7470. Hirsch Wellness Network, 1250 Revolution Mill Dr., Suite 130, Greensboro. Call (336) 549-8367 for LUNAFEST or event information.