By Josette Keelor
Nine short films about issues that affect women could have a great effect on area girls.
A fundraiser for Girls on the Run of the Shenandoah Valley, the film festival coordinated by the makers of LUNA Bars, highlights women as leaders in society through films that range in topics from women's heath, motherhood, body image, aging, cultural diversity and breaking barriers, according to a festival news release.
This year's films, which show at LUNAFEST fundraising events nationwide, will begin at 7:30 p.m. today after a prescreening reception at the Bright Box Theater, 15 N. Loudoun St., Winchester.
The films include "Flying Anne," about a girl with Tourette's syndrome who learns to navigate life with tics; "Tiny Miny Magic," about a woman who develops an unexpected love connection with her mailman; and "Granny's Got Game," about seven competitive female basketball players in their 70s.
Participants of Girls on the Run aren't old enough to attend the festival, since the films tend toward grown-up themes, but someday they will be. Until then the program prepares them for a world that will challenge them so they'll be ready to challenge it right back.
The girls meet twice a week in teams of eight to 20, learning life skills through lessons that celebrate fun through movement, according to the website www.girlsontherunsv.org.
What started only three years ago as the Girls on the Run of Winchester, the after-school program has expanded to include 10 teams in nine sites, Council Director Allison Major said.
The area now includes the Virginia counties of Clarke, Frederick and Page, and West Virginia counties of Jefferson, Berkeley and Hardy, she said. The program also is able to expand into Shenandoah and Warren counties.
Girls on the Run's participants are in third through fifth grade. The older Girls on Track program, currently only at Daniel Morgan Middle School in Winchester, challenges sixth through eighth graders.
The area Girls on the Run spring season will end with a 5K run at 9 a.m. May 17, starting at the Fireman's Shelter in Jim Barnett Park, Winchester.
Major said half of program attendees require scholarships to afford participation fees. That's where LUNAFEST comes in.
Described as a "fundraiser-in-a-box" on its website, the festival helps raise funds and awareness for causes that give women a voice, support or empowerment.
The Winchester festival will give 85 percent of proceeds to Girls on the Run and 15 percent. or a minimum of $300, to the Breast Cancer Fund. This is the third LUNAFEST the girls have hosted, but the first at the Bright Box Theatre.
Girls on the Run is about empowering girls to honor "their unique selves," Major said, so showing films about women made sense as a way of raising funds.
The festival helps "send that empowering, positive message out to women in our community."
Tickets to LUNAFEST are $50 and include a VIP Reception and silent auction beginning at 6:30 p.m. today and screening of all nine films at 7:30 p.m. Purchase tickets at www.lunafest.org/winchester, at www.girlsontherunsv.org or at the Bright Box Theatre online at www.brightbox.com or at the door.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org