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The Athena List Highlights Best Unproduced Screenplays with Strong Female Protagonists

Photo of Paula Bernstein By Paula Bernstein | Indiewire February 6, 2014 at 4:25PM

The organizers of Athena Film Festival have created "The Athena List," which highlights outproduced screenplays about women characters.
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Athena FF 2014

Last year, Melissa Silverstein, a co-founder of the Athena Film Festival and editor of the Women and Hollywood blog (which lives at Indiewire), wrote about a report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, which found that women accounted for 33% of the characters, but only 11% of the leading characters in the top 100 films of 2011.

Inspired by The Black List, which recognizes Hollywood's best unproduced screenplays, Silverstein decided to do something to help draw attention to screenplays which feature female characters. Silverstein and the organizers of the Athena Film Festival have created The Athena List, which will highlight 3-5 screenplays featuring strong female protagonists. The inaugural honorees will be recognized at the upcoming Athena Film Festival, which runs from February 6-9 in New York City.

"If you follow Hollywood, you know the Black List and you know how it has become important in itself, being on this list," Silverstein told Time.com, which first announced the screenplays that made the inaugural Athena List. "There seems to be a need out there to have a conversation about this lack. Hopefully it will spur people to think that you can make a movie about a woman running for office as easily as you can about a man running for office. You can make a movie about a woman musician as well as you can make a movie about a man musician. A lot of the time, people get stuck in what they’re comfortable with. Our objective with the Athena List is to make people pay attention for a moment."

Read More: Gender Inequality in Film in Infographic Form

The screenplays recognized by The Athena List are:

On the Basis of Sex, by Daniel Stiepleman: The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s early years.

The Good Years, by Rachel Feldman and Adam Price: The story of Lilly Ledbetter’s life before she became famous for the equal-pay act that bears her name.

The Sky’s the Limit: The Story of the Mercury 13, by Maria Burton, Gabrielle Burton, Ursula Burton and Jennifer Burton: A script, by four sisters, about the female astronauts who were prepared to go into space in NASA’s early days but then kept earthbound due to their gender.

Audrey’s Run, by Emily Abt: The script tells the fictional tale of a contemporary African-American woman running for mayor of Boston.

This article is related to: Women's issues, Women, Filmmaker Toolkit: Screenwriting, Athena List, Athena Film Festival, News