On April 6 in the Plemmons Student Union, a festival of short films with one common theme took place: all the films are “by, for and about women.” This is the motto of LUNAFEST, a traveling short film festival with the goal of showcasing women’s issues and inspiring thoughtful dialogue.
Every LUNAFEST event also raises funds for a wide variety of charities. This week’s LUNAFEST event in Boone will benefit a nonprofit young girl’s organization called Girls on the Run.
Mary Sheryl Horine, the associate director for the Institute for Health and Human Services and the council director of Girls on the Run of the High Country, has been working with professor Heather Paige Preston’s public relations campaign class in order to host LUNAFEST at Appalachian State this year.
“They’ve taken this on as a class project,” Horine said. “LUNAFEST is a program with Girls on the Run of the High Country, which is a program within the College of Health Sciences here at ASU.”
The Luna corporation, a producer of energy bars and a division of Clif Bars, works closely with organizations and charities in order to make events like this possible.
“The Luna corporation puts together a package of short films, internationally awarded films, by women and all about the same topic of women,” Horine said. “Luna then sends out the package to various organizations throughout the country to be shown as a way of bringing women together in the community. It also serves as an arts activity and a fundraiser all in one.”
The proceeds for the ticket sales will benefit Girls on the Run of the High Country and the Breast Cancer Fund.
“LUNAFEST leaves it up to the communities to decide [the charities that the festival will help],” Horine said. “Girls on the Run learned about this unique opportunity and put together an application to show the films here, and for the past five years we’ve had a LUNAFEST event here.”
Girls on the Run of the High Country was chosen because it fit with the theme of LUNAFEST, which is about women, their stories and their causes.
“[Girls on the Run] is a program that inspires girls to be confident and healthy, and gives them tools to really lead a healthy life,” Horine said. “That’s where LUNAFEST comes in. It’s both a really cool cultural event and a fundraiser for Girls on the Run, a women’s organization.”
This year’s festival will be put on with the help of the Appalachian State University Women’s Center and the sponsorship of Mast General Store.
“The class is based off learning how to do an entire public relations campaign for a client,” Preston said. “Part of that campaign usually is a special event of some sort, in this case LUNAFEST.”
Preston said that this allows the students to get hands-on experience working with people in the media business and to plan how best to reach their target audience.
“We learned that when Girls on the Run first came to us that they had all sorts of needs,” Preston said. “They had no real public relations help along the way. They need student interns, that’s huge for them. They just needed our expertise, which is great, because we want a perfect match.”
The public relations campaigns class typically serves organizations throughout the community, both profit and nonprofit, that may not have the resources to have adequate public relations services without assistance.
“It’s kind of the perfect storm. We learn a lot through the experience, and we educate too, which is nice,” Preston said. “We teach people what public relations is, and what we can do for them. And since they have a better understanding afterwards they’re able to keep that momentum going when we’re done.”
Preston has her students come up with an agency name and structure to put them in the mindset of a real job. All her students come up with a mock agency and logo in order to simulate real-world experience. The class is based around simulating a real-world public relations experience, including working with real-world clients.
“This class is offered every semester, so we’re always looking for clients. This client was actually suggested by a student in the class, Jenna Huff,” Preston said.
Jenna Huff, a senior public relations major, has served as a mentor in the Girls on the Run program.
“Girls on the Run is a great way to build up and empower women,” Huff said. “LUNAFEST is going to show films that were created by women and about women, and it can show more of what women can do.”
LUNAFEST invites female producers from around the world to create films and submit them for consideration to be included in LUNAFEST events.
“They sort through hundreds and hundreds of films every year to pick out only nine that they think are best,” Horine said. “The producers of course get a reward if their film is selected to be featured.”
The nine films will be selected with the purpose of entertaining the audience, conveying emotion and inspiring dialogue within the community.
“These are unique little films that you wouldn’t really see anywhere else, and they’re truly inspiring,” Horine said.
LUNAFEST will be held on April 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenbriar Theater in Plemmons Student Union and on April 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Harvest House.
Story by: Steven Caughran, A&E Reporter
Photos by: Halle Keighton, Photo Editor