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LunaFest film event comes to Naperville

The experiences of an immigrant dog walker, a father and daughter rebuilding after a fire and an animated poem about isolation during the pandemic are just a few stories in the diverse and powerful short films featured in LunaFest.

“They’re incredible and they’re just very creative,” said Laura Desmarais, Cultural Arts Chair for the American Association of University Women Wheaton-Glen Ellyn branch.

LunaFest 2022, a traveling festival of short films created by and about women, will screen eight films from 5 to 8:30 pm at Center Stage Theater in Naperville. The event is a fundraiser hosted by AAUW Wheaton-Glen Ellyn.

The short films are focused on a variety of topics, and not necessarily those that often come to mind with the phrase “women’s issues.”

“It’s really out of the box thinking,” Desmarais said.

Among the films is “Generation Impact: The Coder” by Samantha Knowles. It tells the story of a 13-year-old girl who creates an app that helps kids stay in contact with their incarcerated parents.

“They’re insightful and they’re poignant,” Desmarais said of the films.

Another is about a Black woman who noted there are no Black female cartoonists at The New Yorker.

“And so it’s how she got to be the first one to have The New Yorker accept her cartoons,” Desmarais said.

Started by the Luna nutritional bar’s Luna Foundation in 2001, the festival “was intended to provide opportunity for women to tell their stories in film,” she said.

Filmmakers submit their ideas to the festival, and LunaFest selects a number of them to produce, she said.

“There have been 170 filmmakers that have been featured throughout since it premiered in 2001,” Desmarais said. “It’s become rather competitive. It makes it exciting you never know what you’re going to see from year to year.

“And they’re all poignant. The producers are younger and they’re looking for starts. And they’re people who are award-winning,” she said. “They’ve accomplished something in their own rights in order to win the sponsorship from LunaFest. It’s a fun festival.”

This is the third time the organization has hosted LunaFest. In the past the branch hosted an annual book sale, but began hosting LunaFest as “a much more fun and exciting alternative as a fundraiser,” Desmarais said.

Funds raised from the festival provide scholarships to local female high school graduates to attend College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.

“It’s all about reaching out and empowering women with opportunity,” she said.

Doors to the event open at 5 pm, with hors d’oeuvres and cash bar available. The films are screened from 6 to 7:30 pm, followed by coffee and a raffle of gift certificates to 15 Wheaton and Glen Ellyn area restaurants.

Advance purchase of the $50 tickets is recommended. If still available, tickets will also be sold at the door.

The film festival is appropriate for ages 13 and above.

“It’s very appropriate for high school and college (students),” Desmarais said.

The festival gives attendees a chance to get to know the works of those active in the film industry but whose names may be unfamiliar.

“They’re not doing the big screen stuff but they’re doing lots and lots of stuff we’re not even aware of,” Desmarais said.


When: 5-8:30pm Oct. 15

Where: Center Stage Theater, 1665 Quincy Ave., Suite 131, Naperville

Tickets: $50

Information: wheatonglenellyn-Il.aauw.net

Kathy Cichon is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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