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Essential Event Info

W H A T :

  • Nine short films plus one local addition, running time approx. 90 minutes. In English and various languages with English subtitles.
  • Genre: Shorts - live action and animation; drama, comedy and documentary.
  • Discussion after the film.
  • The films are NR (not rated) but suitable for all audiences, high-school and older.

  • W H E N :

  • Tuesday, January 15
  • Wednesday, January 16

  • Screening at 7:00 pm,
    doors open at 6:30 pm

    W H E R E :

  • Cincinnati Art Museum,
    953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park/Mt. Adams.
  • Easy Access, Free Parking
    click for Directions & Map

  • T I C K E T S :

  • Cincinnati Art Museum,
  • Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for Art Museum members and students with valid ID.

    $7 tickets are ONLY available online, by phone, at the Museum, and at the door subject to availability.


  • tollfree 1-877-548-3237
  • at the Art Museum

  • ...and at these locations
    ($9 tix only, cash only),
    click each location below for a map:

  • Clifton-Ludlow Ave. -
    Sitwell's Coffee House
    513 281 7487

  • Mt. Lookout Square -
    Lookout Joe Coffee Roasters

    513 871 8626

  • Northside-Hamilton Ave -
    Shake It Music & Video
    513 591 0123

  • Downtown Cincinnati -
    Coffee Emporium
    513 651 5483

  • Tickets will also be available at the door, subject to availability.

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    To complete your night out, we've arranged dinner discounts with two restaurants offering great food at reasonable prices:

    Tuesday & Wednesday, January 15-16,
    Andy's Mediterranean Grill.
    Conveniently located just a few blocks from the Art Museum at 906 Nassau Street near Gilbert Avenue.

    CWC patrons purchasing advance tickets for LUNAFEST on these nights will receive a 15% food-and-beverage discount (excluding alcohol) for meals before or afterthe film.

    Andy's features great Lebanese meat, chicken, fish and vegetarian specialities, including Kabobs, Shwarma, Lebanese Pizza, Baba Ghannouj, Labneh, Falafel, Hummus with Tahini, etc.

    To receive the discount, you will need to show your tickets if purchased at a local outlet, email confirmation if purchased online or by phone, or printed receipt if purchased in advance at the Art Museum. Reservations suggested, call 513.281.9791. Click here for directions, menu and general info and click here for a map.

    Wednesday, January 16, The Terrace Cafe at the Cincinnati Art Museum.   Non-members attending LUNAFEST on this night will receive the same 10% discount (excluding alcohol) extended to museum members. The restaurant fills up quickly on film nights, so reservations are recommended, call 513.639.2986. View menu here.

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    Lunafest 2008

    >>>   Check out the WVXU review of Lunafest:    
    ... listen here,  or  read it here.    

    SELECTED FROM over 200 entries, this year's LunaFest winners are the work of nine promising filmmakers from around the world.

    ACCOMPLISHED FILMMAKERS from Africa, Central and South America, France, Iceland, Ireland, Japan and the USA pursue universal themes, flavored by the fresh eyes of youth — two-thirds of the filmmakers are under 30 and the balance are under 40.

    ENTERTAINING AND INFORMATIVE, these short dramas, comedies and documentaries will tug at your heartstrings, make you smile and make you think.

    About The Films

    MAKE A WISH (Itmanna)
    Director Cherien Dabis, Palestine, 2006, 12:00, live-action, in Arabic with English subtitles.

    A young Palestinian girl will do whatever it takes to buy a birthday cake. Shot on location in Ramallah on the West Bank, this is an intimate personal journey that follows 11 year-old Mariam on the day of her father's birthday. Through the eyes of a kid, with wry humor, MAKE A WISH explores the impact of conflict and war: love, loss and grief on a personal level.  More ...

    Director Jesse Epstein, USA, 2006, 11:15, animation.

    Charles Farruggio is a ballet dancer, with a really big nose, and this film deals with body image and our frequently obsessive relationship with what we as a society deem to be "perfection." Innovative, witty, beautifully paced and edited with an engaging voice-over narration by Farruggio, his story is illustrated in time-lapse fashion using hand drawn images by artist Robert Castillo, in a tour-de-force burst of pencil swipes, arcs, leaps and pirouettes.  More ...

    FAMILY REUNION (Gódir Gestir)
    Director Isold Uggadóttir, Iceland/USA, 2006, 21:30, live-action, in Icelandic and English with English subtitles.

    New York-based Katrín is returning from New York to her native Iceland for her grandfather's birthday, carrying a secret she doesn't know how to share. But she's the one who's in for a surprise in this sweet story of family love and acceptance.  More...

    DOÑA ANA (Lady Ana)
    Director Marlon Vásquez Silva, Colombia, 2006, 1:40, animation, in Spanish with English subtitles.

    An animation comprised of beautifully created watercolors and collages, that addresses the plight of displaced farmers in Colombia and conveys the loss of cultural capital that occurs when small agricultural communities are destroyed. Doña Ana shares the joys and hardships of her life along with her love of strawberries.  More...

    Director Sophie Barthes, USA, 2006, 11:00, live-action.

    What might happen if happiness came in a box and you could buy it at a store? French director Sophie Berthes and Polish actress Elzbieta Czyzewska explore the juxtaposition of the abstract/subjective and the tangible, with surprising results.  More...

    Director Sophie O'Hara, USA, 2006, 3:00, animation.

    A pocket becomes a metaphor for the journey of motherhood. A woman experiences the joys of raising a family and what it means to be a pocket — to hold, to protect and to finally let go.  More...

    Director Diana Keam, South Africa, 2005, 12:00, live-action.

    When her baby sister dies, Margo's other mother shows her that grieving and the acceptance of loss can transcend the tightly wrapped realm of convention.  More...

    Director Ru Kuwahata, USA, 2006, 2:00, animation.

    A young Japanese girl struggles with adolescent rebellion and the reality of family ties. Daikon Ashi is a Japanese term that means "legs that look like white radishes." The girl makes fun of her mother's legs, but soon realizes that she will grow up and look exactly like her mother, daikon ashi and all.  More...

    BREAKING BOUNDRIES: the Sondra Van Ert Story
    Director Jennifer Grace, USA, 2006, 5:30, live-action.

    A documentary reflection on one female Olympic athlete's determination and success. One of the most decorated winter athletes in the U.S., Van Ert inspired a generation of non-traditional athletes (snowboarders!) to push past social boundaries in the name of a dream. BREAKING BOUNDARIES isn't just about athletic boundaries, it's about overcoming the obstacles that any dreamer faces.  More...

    Director Linda Spalazzi, USA, 2006, 7:30, live-action.

    Special addition: we are pleased to announce the inclusion of this moving short documentary created by Bright Light Communications for the Cincinnati YWCA which includes footage of their "Empty Chairs" exhibit, artwork by children from violent homes, plus interviews with family members and kids who have felt the impact of domestic violence. The film underscores the importance of the YWCA's battered women's shelter and violence abuse prevention programs. "Violence on our streets will not end until we stop violence in our homes."

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    Post-Film Discussion

    Theresa Singleton
    & Linda Spalazzi

    Theresa Singleton is a long time advocate of women's issues and is actively committed to ensuring their rights and protection in Greater Cincinnati and beyond. An 1989 graduate of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, she started her career with the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati in 1990.

    As the YWCA's Protection from Abuse director, Ms. Singleton supervises and is responsible for the YWCA's Battered Women's Shelter, House of Peace, Eastern Area Court & Sexual Assault Programs, Transitional Living Housing Programs, Alliance for Abused and Battered International Women, The Strategic Humane Intervention Project and is the point person for Domestic Violence Challenges the Workplace.

    She is passionate about dispelling misconceptions that surround victims of intimate partner violence and works tirelessly to educate a broad range of professionals about the serious and sometimes fatal consequences of intimate partner violence.

    In 2004 she was the producer of Batterers Will Kill, a nationally distributed award-winning documentary that exposes the warning signs of domestic violent homicide. In 2005, it was awarded a silver medal at the New York International Film and Video Festival in New York City. In May 2005, Ms. Singleton was the recipient of the Ohio Attorney General's Special Achievement Award at the Attorney General's Two Days In May, Crime Victims' Conference. And, in May 2006, she was recognized as Mother of the Year at the Rudi Johnson Foundation Luncheon and Concert.

    Linda Ingram Spalazzi

    President, Bright Light Visual Communications

    While completing her M.A. in Mass Communications at Indiana University, Linda worked for the PBS station in Bloomington. The station's open atmosphere, along with the variety of programming styles — documentary, educational, arts — gave her a freedom to explore a wide range of creative solutions. This sense of exploration remains central to her work.

    After completing her degree, she joined a production unit of a Cincinnati television station, producing and directing commercials and documentaries. In 1976, Linda and Rocky Spalazzi bought the company and changed the name to Bright Light. Linda directed Batterers Will Kill and Empty Chairs and Painful Windows for the Greater Cincinnati YWCA.

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    About Lunafest, the Breast Cancer Fund, and the Greater Cincinnati YWCA


    Started in 2001, LUNAFEST is an annual film festival that tours nationally. Beginning with a handful of venues, the festival has grown significantly each year and will reach approximately 100 communities via the current tour.

    LUNAFEST screenings are special evenings where women (and their friends, families, partners, husbands and boyfriends) can gather to view a selection of diverse films that embody a wide range of topics. The works range from documentaries and narratives to animated shorts and cover subjects such as women's health, relationships, cultural and racial diversity, sexuality and spirituality.

    LUNAFEST was created to support women on a number of levels:

  • To provide women filmmakers the opportunity to be seen and heard
  • To empower women by showcasing women's issues, stories and amazing moments
  • To support women's health and Luna's partnership with the Breast Cancer Fund
  • To support local communities and organizations
  • To provide women with a forum to communicate, share and inspire social change within their communities

  • About LUNA

    The genesis of Luna is straightforward, but no less significant for its simplicity. In Berkeley California, there is a company named Clif Bar, Inc. They make energy bars, primarily for athletes. In the late 1990s the women at Clif Bar, in response to their own needs and those of their friends, developed a product they called the Luna Bar, a nutritional bar with natural contents formulated to benefit women during and after pregnancy. Consumers soon discovered that a tasty product that provided 100% of daily requirements for essential vitamins and folic acid was a great thing and its popularity spread beyond expectant mothers to all women, and men as well.

    The resultant focus of LUNA is notable because of their clear and consistent commitment to improving the lives of their customers. Luna of course is in business to stay in business, but their philosophical model is conveyed through their operations and the programs and causes they support. The LUNAFEST film festival is one of several programs embraced by the organization. Please visit www.lunabar.com to learn more about their story, programs and products. If you are an aspiring filmmaker, or know someone who is, please check with the good folks at LUNAFEST regarding film submission procedures.

    The Breast Cancer Fund

    The Breast Cancer Fund (BCF) identifies and advocates for the elimination of the environmental and other preventable causes of the disease. Founded in 1992, BCF works from the knowledge that breast cancer is not simply a personal tragedy, but a public health priority that demands action from all. BCF works to challenge the myths and perceptions surrounding breast cancer while providing inspiration to the women who suffer from the disease. Through public education, prevention and public policy initiatives, BCF mobilizes the public and secures the institutional changes and legislative reforms necessary to eliminate the environmental links to breast cancer

    The Breast Cancer Fund was a founding partner of LUNAFEST in 2001, and LUNA continues to honor their work by directing 15% of all proceeds of LUNAFEST to their cause. In reciprocal fashion, LUNA is a primary corporate sponsor of the Breast Cancer Foundation. As such, LUNA is an active partner via financial support, event sponsorship, and participation in its programs to prevent breast cancer. LUNA's commitment to BCF is consistent with its long-term commitment to providing healthy food and a clean environment. With the wide reaching effects of breast cancer, and the devastating number of women diagnosed each year, the women of LUNA are proud to join in the fight and support BCF's mission. To learn more about the Breast Cancer Foundation please visit www.breastcancerfund.org.

    The YWCA of Greater Cincinnati

    Every single day of the year, the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati acts as a voice for women and an agent for change. The YWCA is the principal agency for women in our community, with a focus on the well-being of the whole woman. The YWCA reaches out to women that are seeking solutions to abusive situations, are in need of literacy and job training, want to effectively raise their children, and are looking to take care of their bodies.

    The YWCA is a community leader on issues of Racial Justice, providing forums to explore our history and future possibilities. For over 138 years the YWCA has provided comprehensive programs, outspoken leadership and professional expertise on the vital issues of the times. With a unique combination of service and social action, the YWCA continues to focus on a common goal:

    The Family Violence Prevention Project collaborative is comprised of over 40 public and private agencies that represent various perspectives in the field of family violence including advocates, direct service providers, and funders. These agencies span the spectrum of family violence service provision from the medical community to the criminal justice system. The YWCA of Greater Cincinnati serves as the lead agency. The United Way of Greater Cincinnati is the lead partner.

    To learn more about the YWCA and its important programs, please visit www.ywca.org.

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    About the Filmmakers

    Cherien Dabis
    :: MAKE A WISH    www.makeawishmovie.com    www.cheriendabis.com

    Born in 1976 in Nebraska to Palestinian/Jordanian immigrant parents, award-winning filmmaker and television writer Cherien Dabis has been recognized by the industry's top organizations and trade publications, including the Sundance Institute, IFP and Filmmaker Magazine.

    A graduate, with honors, in communications and creative writing of the University of Cincinnati, and a 2004 graduate of Columbia University's Masters of Fine ArtsFilm program, Dabis' short films have screened at some of the world's top film festivals. Her latest, Itmanna (Make A Wish), premiered at the 2006 Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films and Dubai International Film Festival where it won the Gold Muhr Award for Best Short Film.

    An official selection of the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin and winner of the Press Prize and Jury Special Mention at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, Dabis received several generous grants in support of the film, including the National Geographic's All Roads Film Project Seed Grant, the Jerome Foundation's New York City Media Arts Grant as well as the New York State Council on the Art's Electronic Media and Film Distribution Grant.

    Currently in development on Amreeka, her feature film writing and directing debut, Dabis was invited to participate in the Sundance Institute's first ever Middle East Screenwriter's Lab and the 2006 Cannes Film Festival's inaugural Mediterranean Films Crossing Borders program. An alumni of Film Independent's 2005 Director's Lab, Project: Involve Mentorship Program and Los Angeles Film Festival's Fast Track Program, Dabis also received a 2006 Artist Fellowship in Playwriting & Screenwriting from the New York Foundation for the Arts in support of the screenplay. Most recently, Screen International listed Amreeka as one of the "Ten Arab Films to Watch" in 2007.

    In 2003, Dabis was awarded a Screenwriting Grant from the Professional Organization of Women in Entertainment Reaching Up (Power Up) for her short screenplay Little Black Boot (acquired by The Sundance Channel). Premiering at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, the film went on to win several Best Short Film awards and was a Grand Prize Winner of the 2004 PlanetOut.com Short Movie Awards. Dabis is also a recipient of the Power Up Filmmaker's Fund for her short Memoirs of an Evil Stepmother (acquired by MTV/Logo). Her short film-writing debut, Nadah, premiered at the 2003 Rotterdam International Film Festival and was nominated for the VC Film Festival's Golden Reel Award.

    A Staff Writer on season three of Showtime's critically acclaimed television series The L Word, Dabis returned to season four as a Story Editor. As a feature film screenwriter, she has been awarded several distinguished awards in support of her screenplays including the Zaki Gordon Award for Excellence in Screenwriting, the Institute for Humane Studies Film and Fiction Scholarship and the New York Women in Film and Television Scholarship. Her production credits include Jane Campion's psychological thriller In the Cut and NBC's critically acclaimed television series The West Wing.

    Before her work in film and television, Dabis worked as a media activist and public relations specialist in Washington, D.C., where she shaped national media coverage of key political issues from reproductive rights to environmental and consumer safety. Her communications campaigns helped pass legislation involving better FDA oversight of medical devices, reproductive health and civil rights. As a writer, her fiction and personal essays have been published in Mizna and Growing Up Girl, an Anthology of Voices from Marginalized Spaces.

    Director's Statement:          *** CONTAINS SPOILERS ***
        Skip down to "Anecdotes" if you want to discover this film on your own.

    Make A Wish
    is an intimate personal journey that follows Mariam on the day of her late father's birthday. While the film doesn't definitively deal with how her father died, political references throughout indicate that his death was related to the political turmoil in the region. The film was inspired by the idea of absence, specifically the many Palestinian men who are absent from their families due to imprisonment or death. And little is ever known about who they were or what they left behind. I wanted to pay tribute to the grief of the surviving loved ones. And I wanted to portray that grief through the eyes of a child.

    The film is shot semi-documentary style in order to capture the realism of the Palestinian experience and to build a sense of urgency. The stakes are high for Mariam. She must be able to buy the cake before the end of the day, or it will be too late. Mariam's desperation is telegraphed through long lenses so that the audience is immersed in her point-of-view. The audience sees the world through her selective eyes. The eyes of a grieving child with but one thing on her mind: buying her father's favorite cake in order to celebrate his life and honor his memory. The tone of the film is one of a drama with a light touch. Moments of candid humor shine through to ease the tension of Mariam's journey.

    Thematically, Make A Wish explores the devastating impact of political conflict and war: love, loss and grief on a deep, personal level. It offers a glimpse into a family working through expressions of grief, each member dealing with it in a vastly different manner. The film is both a celebration of life and a work of mourning.


    When I traveled to the Middle East in October of 2005 in order to shoot the film, I hadn't been back to Palestine in twenty years. It took me twelve hours to travel 55 miles from Amman, Jordan to Ramallah. I was detained and interrogated by Israeli soldiers at the Allenby Border Crossing.

    The film was shot entirely in occupied territory using non-actors and working with a very small crew. While I flew in American cinematographer Alison Kelly, the rest of the crew was Palestinian. Though we shot on mini-DV, we rented the mini-pro 35 in order to attach 35mm prime lenses to the camera. We didn't realize that finding a Palestinian focus puller would be nearly impossible. There is one. And he was booked. We would have hired an Israeli but Israelis aren't allowed to travel into occupied territory. So we hired a Palestinian cameraman and trained him.

    Because we shot during Ramadan, we were NOT allowed to eat in public. Most of the film is day exteriors, so that was a real challenge. Especially as most of the crew wasn't fasting. The scene where Mariam sells gum on the street corner was shot totally documentary style. Whenever the traffic light turned red, we ran out to the cars stopped at the intersection, told the passengers VERY briefly what we were doing and what we wanted from them and then rolled camera. We had less than one minute to do all of that so we were lucky if we got one take per red light. Unfortunately I was never able to get the names of those "actors" in order to give them credit or thank them.

    On the third day, several Palestinian police officers asked us to stop shooting and leave the area immediately because they were fighting with Palestinian security forces and gunfire threatened to ensue. Luckily, it never did. Relatives I'd never met showed up on set on the last day of production. They heard that a Dabis was in town shooting a film. I drank whiskey and smoked hookah with them after wrap.

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    Jesse Epstein & Robert Castillo :: THE GUARANTEE

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