Girls on the Run Wood River Valley will host its eighth annual Lunafest Film Festival, featuring nine short films by and about women, at the Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum on Thursday, Dec. 6.

    The evening will include a silent auction from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and the films will start immediately after. The event is a benefit for the Wood River Valley chapter of the national Girls on the Run organization, a program designed to empower girls ages 8-13 by addressing issues such as self-image, healthy relationships, teamwork and self-care. The event will also include an Empowerment Photo Essay Contest in which youths are invited to submit a photo that they took themselves accompanied by a 100-word essay about what empowers them to pursue their dreams, according to Girls on the Run Executive Director Mary Fauth. Audience members can peruse the photos and essays, which will be displayed in the lobby of the Argyros prior to the film and vote for their favorite. The winner will be announced at the conclusion of the showings and presented with a $250 Visa gift card.

    “We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams,” states the Girls on the Run Wood River Valley website.

    “Lunafest is a great opportunity to bring the community together around stories about and for women,” Fauth said. “The films cover different stories and different cultures, and every year there’s a message.  Everyone in the audience comes away with a certain film that particularly struck them. Over the years, Lunafest has become a favorite of the community. “

    Lunafest is a film festival created by LUNA bar to celebrate women and is shown by many chapters of Girls on the Run throughout the country. Its slogan is “Connecting women through film.”

    This year’s slate of films includes “Buttercup” by Megan Brotherton, a film about a young woman whose mother has just died, and whose best friend shows up unannounced at her house to provide support; “Girls Level Up” by Anne Edgar, which follows a young Pakistani woman who grew up in a conservative Muslim neighborhood in the Middle East and now helps girls in Silicon Valley design video games; “Toys” by Amanda Quaid, about a girl on a rural farm in the 1930s whose father, disappointed that she’s not a son, gives her a bow and arrow to play with; “Fanny Pack” by Uttera Singh, a comedy about a young Indian-American woman whose father’s anxiety over her independence causes him to chase her to the airport issuing ultimatums; “Joy Joy Nails” by Joey Ally, about a Korean woman who manages a nail salon and the Chinese manicurist who ruffles her feathers; “Yours Sincerely, Lois Weber” by  Svetlana Cvetko, a tribute to a successful female silent film director at Universal Studios in 1916 whose name is practically unknown today; “Jesszilla” by Emily Sheskin, a short documentary about a young boxer who has dreams of becoming a professional fighter; “Waiting for Hassana” by Ifunanya Maduka, about a young woman who was among the 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Africa in 2014 and managed to escape but is mourning the disappearance of her best friend, who is still missing; and “Last Summer in the Garden,” an animated film about death and rebirth by Bekky O’Neil.

    The money raised from Lunafest goes toward the implementation of the Girls on the Run program in schools, including licensing, materials and scholarships, Fauth said. The program costs $115 per session, but no applicant is turned away for lack of funds. She said Girls on the Run chapters use a curriculum designed by the national office. It includes motivational activities and workshops and incorporates walking and running while creatively addressing life skills. It also has a partnership with the athletic shoe manufacturing company Asics, which donates used running shoes to participants in need.

    The Wood River Valley chapter of Girls on the Run meets twice a week for 10 weeks in the fall, and again in the spring, at all Blaine County elementary schools and the Sun Valley Community School. It also serves Wood River Middle School with its Heart and Sole program, Faust said. The organization has 16-30 volunteers, some of whom are former participants in the program. Each group has 12-20 girls and each session begins with a warm-up designed around the day’s topic followed by a run or walk.

    “The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5k running event,” the organization’s website states. “The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.”

    Tickets for Lunafest cost $20 for youths and seniors and $30 for adults if purchased in advance. Tickets will be available at Iconoclast in Hailey and The Elephant’s Perch in Ketchum as well as through the Girls on the Run website, Tickets will also available at the door on the evening of the event for $25 youth/senior and $40 adult. Red Carpet Admission tickets are available for $60 in advance or $75 at the door and include a souvenir gift, a beverage and an entry in the Pamper Me raffle worth over $700 in products.  Auction items can be viewed in advance on the website.

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