Girls Impact the World Film Festival Is Back

Local film festival empowers young filmmakers from around the world

Austin is no stranger to festivals, and with spring festival season in full swing, the Girls Impact the World Film Festival fills more than just a gap in the calendar.

Seeing with their own eyes: “Breaking the Mold,” which screened at Girls Impact the World Film Festival in 2013, represents the kinds of new visions that the festival supports. The fest and conference for young women filmmakers returns for its seventh year this Sunday.

The 7th Annual GITWFF will features panels, screenings, and performances with a female-centric lens. The festival (this Sunday at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School Dell Fine Arts Center) invites high school and undergraduate filmmakers to present their short, three- to six-minute films that focus on women’s issues from across the globe – ranging from violence against women, beauty, and empowerment to sex trafficking and immigration. (The festival hosts films from previous years on their YouTube page, if you’d like to see the amazing work done by young filmmakers.)

ConnectHer, a local nonprofit dedicated to aiding women around the world, started the festival back in 2012 as a way for young female filmmakers from around the world to not only screen their films in front of a festival audience, but also to present their work to distinguished judges, who will award up to $25,000 in scholarships. This year’s panel includes actors Nikki Reed (Thirteen, Twilight) and Ian Somerhalder (Vampire Diaries), and Austin-based film producer Elizabeth Avellán. Since the festival’s creation, the nonprofit has awarded $150,000 to winners: This year, the festival received submissions from 42 countries, and from that list 30 films were chosen to be presented on Sunday. These young filmmakers’ shorts will be in competition for the grand prize, but other categories include People’s Choice, Global Impact, Best Film Production, and more.

Lila Igram, founder of ConnectHer, said. “As always, we were so impressed by the passion and range of the film submissions from across the U.S. and the world. More than 200 girls – and 39 young men who entered – are using their creativity and activism to bring attention to issues that impact women – and communities – worldwide.”

“It’s extremely important to validate the voices of these young women and men filmmakers that are already so strong,” Eloise DeJoria, a philanthropist and festival sponsor, said. “Film is a great way to reach a lot of people and has the ability to change the lives of all involved for the better.”

Meeting the filmmakers and seeing their films are some of DeJoria’s favorite things about the festival. “Their perspectives help open our eyes to so much,” she said.

Along with screenings, Sunday’s festivities will also include panels from accomplished female filmmakers. The first event of the day is a discussion on “Storytelling for Social Impact” with producer Effie T. Brown (Real Women Have Curves, Dear White People), author Gay Gaddis, writer/director/producer Sharon Arteaga, and Nioma Narissa Sadler, founder of WomenServe, an organization that helps marginalized women tell their stories through filmmaking. The second panel features co-owner of Troublemaker Studios and GITWFF judge Elizabeth Avellán, women’s health pioneer Edna Adan, and Umaimah Mendhro, founder and CEO of VIDA, a business designed to create quality products and clothing.

Girls Impact the World Film Festival, April 14, 11am-8pm, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School Dell Fine Arts Center, 5901 Southwest Parkway. Tickets available now at

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Girls Impact the World Film Festival, Nikki Reed, Ian Somerhalder, Elizabeth Avellán, Eloise DeJoria, Lila Igram, Connecther

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