While some movie lovers are buzzing over AFI, those who love movies by and about women are headed to North Dallas for Lunafest
Most North Texas movie lovers are buzzing about the AFI Dallas International Film Festival starting this week. But Ronit Mor’s energies are directed at a much smaller celebration of film.
Mor is the local organizer of Lunafest, a film festival dedicated to generating awareness of — and money for — women’s issues. It takes place at the Center for Spiritual Living in North Dallas on March 28.
Although the touring festival of films by and about women has been around for seven years, Mor, a natural health practitioner, discovered it only about a year ago.
"I saw it in Fort Worth at the Modern Art Museum in a small engagement," she said. "I think I was the only person to travel all the way from Dallas to see it. I fell in love with it."
The films — a mix of documentary, narrative and animated shorts — made such an impression on her, Mor decided it needed to reach a wider audience.
"It’s a touring festival and fundraiser, and they allow people to host it in different cities as long as all proceeds go to women’s causes," she said.
She inquired about whether she could organize a Dallas showing. She could, the festival coordinators told her, but they gave her a narrow window in which to mount it. Mor quickly mobilized, attracting sponsors and handling all the publicity on her own.
"They usually say it takes seven to eight months; I did it in five weeks, and it was a huge success," Mor said. It played last year at the Angelika Film Center at Mockingbird Station.
"I have never seen people get so engaged. Both men and women are invited, and men really love it — about 30 percent last year were men, many gay," she said.
This year, nine films will screen as part of Lunafest, from as far away as Palestine, South Africa, Korea and Columbia. Among them will be a U.S.-Iceland co-production called "Family Reunion," about a closeted lesbian who comes out to her friends and family. It previously played at the Sundance Film Festival.
It’s specifically the variety of voices and positions that Mor finds so compelling.
"You get a glimpse into women’s lives in different cultures — you learn a lot about women in differing places," she said. "The focus is independent thought and about empowering women and inspire them. It’s mostly about raising awareness and you leave wanting to get involved."
Mor’s passion is magnified because net proceeds from Lunafest are donated to The Breast Cancer Fund and other women’s charities. Mor chose Dallas-based Attitudes & Attire, which helps get women off the street and ready to enter the workforce, as her primary local beneficiary. She moved the location from the Angelika to the Center for Spiritual Living, which donated its space for the event, to save expenses so that more funds can go toward their beneficiaries.
Mor initially got involved "out an awareness that only 7 percent of nonprofit funds go toward women’s causes," according to Daniel Richmond, her partner in promoting the festival.
But studies show if you help one woman, you’re actually impacting five, added Mor.
"I’ve been to a lot of occasions like this, but when it’s all said and done, you spent your money well — when you go home, you know you’ve supported something," Richmond said.
The event will begin with a reception, with food donated by Zea Woodfire Grill and wines provided by Parlour Wine Bar, which will select wines from woman-owned vineyards from around the world.
The screening will begin at 7 p.m. and will last about two hours. When it’s over, Mor said she hopes everyone feels as moved by the films as she has been.
"I like to inspire women to seek out their dreams and feel anything is possible," she said.
The seventh annual Lunafest plays at the Center for Spiritual Loving, 4801 Spring Valley Road, Suite 115, on March 28. Reception at 6 p.m., screening at 7 p.m. $25. Lnafestdallas.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 21, 2008