Lights, Camera, Action for LUNAFEST


Executive Director of KCGOTR, Lori Burgess, talks about the process of bringing LUNAFEST to Grand Rapids.

By Bri Kilroy

Maybe you’re looking for an uplifting film experience or maybe you just crushed the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon on the 19th (sign up at and are looking to rest your legs. What a great time to attend a film festival, and the Grand Rapids Art Museum is hosting an empowering one.

For the first time, LUNAFEST 2015 is coming to Grand Rapids to play a series of award-winning short films created by women, for women. The nationwide film festival donates 85 percent of its profits to local nonprofit organizations with the remaining 15 percent going to the Breast Cancer Fund. For Grand Rapids, that nonprofit organization is Kent County Girls on the Run (GOTR), a youth program that shows girls how to embrace their individual strengths with a curriculum that creatively integrates running.

Kent County GOTR’s Executive Director, Lori Burgess, was interested in bringing LUNAFEST to Grand Rapids since she started with Kent County GOTR in 2009, but knew it would take more than interest to make it happen.

“Would we be able to risk it financially?” wondered Burgess as Kent County GOTR discussed bringing LUNAFEST to Grand Rapids.

During a national GOTR conference held in New Orleans at the beginning of 2014, Kent County GOTR, bunched with 225 other GOTR councils in North America, won a drawing that would give them financial support to bring LUNAFEST to Grand Rapids. The $2,500 grand was a great amount to get the event going; the next step was securing a venue for the event.

“We had to get approval for the date,” said Burgess, explaining how they formed a committee of volunteers to tackle the task. “We have a really amazing group of women leaders in the community.”

Wealthy Street Theatre, Acton Institute, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and the Goei Center were among the venue considerations for 2015 LUNAFEST, but the Grand Rapids Art Museum became the perfect venue to support the arts and draw audiences to the event.

Weaving with GOTR’s values to recognize power in women and nurture all genres of health, LUNAFEST films cover various topics from health to body image and relationships to cultural diversity. This year’s line up features eight films, all under 15 minutes, illustrating how each woman breaks through their unique barriers. Some women are animated (Miss. Todd), some show that being a rebel doesn’t fade with age (Viva), one tests social norms and status (Tryouts), another brings a woman’s touch to the auto shop industry (Lady Parts) and more.

The bold and artistic stories will reflect your own journey, however unique it is, as each film is charged with inspiring women facing all too familiar issues, reminding every one of us that we are strong, resilient and bad hair days don’t really matter.

Grand Rapids LUNAFEST is April 23 at the Grand Rapids Art Museum in the Cook Auditorium. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Founder of GOTR International, Molly Barker, joins the festival with a speech at 6:30 p.m. Burgess boasts Barker for her charisma and motivation.

“Even just to listen to her for ten minutes to tell a couple stories of empowering women and Girls on the Run is amazing,” said Burgess.

Films roll from 6:45-8:15 p.m. Take an evening to celebrate and connect with the women that define our Grand Rapids community and the world. For more information on LUNAFEST and Girls on the Run, visit or

Cell phones off, Grand Rapids. The movie is starting.



Miss Todd by Kristina Ye

In 1910, New York, Miss Todd works to understand the principles of flight, but has more than gravity holding her down.

A Good Match by Lyn Elliot

Ann and her boyfriend are over, but does that mean things have to end with his mom?

Flor De Toloache by Jenny Schweitzer

A woman challenges social norms and forms an all-female mariachi band.

Tryouts by Susana Casares

Being a teenager isn’t easy, especially for a Muslim American girl who wants to join her high school’s cheerleading squad.

Tits by Louisa Bertman

A film about feminine exploration by an award winning illustrator and aspiring filmmaker who tells stories through moving pictures.

Viva by Amanda Blugrass

A documentary portrait of Cornwall’s grandmother of punk and how to be a rebel at 82.

Chicas Day by Susan Béjar

Today is a girl’s day out, everything is allowed- but don’t forget that it’s just a game.

Lady Parts by Emily Fraser & Katherine Gorringe

The story of how Lady Parts Automotive brings a woman’s touch to an industry dominated by men.


Bri Kilroy is a Grand Valley and AmeriCorps alumni who learned to type through vigorous Mavis Beacon trainings. She also passes as an artist, illustrator and author of this bio.