LUNAFEST: Grand Rapids

by Bri Kilroy

Films hold fascinating powers; some briefly help you escape reality while others bring you back to it. We seek them out to both relax and learn as we interpret life through the director’s eyes with the freedom to relate it to our personal point of view.

The LUNAFEST film festival, hosted by Girls on the Run of Kent and Muskegon Counties  (GOTR-KMC), is in its third year of providing moviegoers in Grand Rapids with that transcendent viewing experience with nine short films made by women who address a range of subjects through the art of filmmaking.

“People really enjoy it and everyone resonates with one of the films,” Director of GOTR-KMC Lori Burgess said. “For some, they relate to a funny one and others will relate to a sad one. It’s just whichever touches the individual at that point in time.”

LUNAFEST, taking place in Grand Rapids on April 27 at San Chez Bistro (38 Fulton St. NW), has a reputation for bringing viewers into a world less explored by featuring work by filmmakers from across the globe. You may not go in expecting to relate to a 17-year-old in a refugee camp (Another Kind of Girl) or a grandmother who is on a synchronized swim team (The Honeys and the Bears), but the magic of LUNAFEST is that this range of stories by an even greater range of women sparks something in each of us, whether it’s a memory, belief, thought or desire.

The short films, totaling less than 90 minutes all together, achieve a connection that grips your attention and holds it throughout the event.

The talented filmmakers use the time restriction to their advantage by filling every second of their story with something meaningful.

From the opening title to the closing credits, the viewer receives an intimate introduction to the characters and is invited into their lives. Niñera shows you the ordeals nannies face when their career of raising their employer’s children keeps them from raising their own. In The Third Dad, a daughter who consciously breaks ties with her father goes on a journey to visit his grave ten years later in. A new definition of family is developed in the animated film Family Tale, and love, weaving through the professional and personal lives of a couple, is explored in Partners.

LUNAFEST provides filmmakers a groundbreaking base to connect women by telling their stories and addressing causes through film, but the nation-wide event also brings the community the opportunity to raise money for a local nonprofit in the area. The LUNAFEST event in Grand Rapids, along with a second one happening in Muskegon (April 26, Beardsley Theater), supports GOTR-KMC.

GOTR-KMC has hosted LUNAFEST since 2015, correlating with the mission of celebrating girls and promoting hope through empowering experiences like running and filmmaking. Eighty-five percent of LUNAFEST ticket sales make it possible for girls to participate in GOTR-KMC through full and partial scholarships. The remaining 15 percent goes directly to the Breast Cancer Fund.

Additional opportunities to support GOTR-KMC are sprinkled into fun features during the event, like a drawing to win prizes from a bottle of wine by Clif Family Winery or a gift card to San Chez Bistro. Enter the drawing for $20 or get six entries for $100 with proceeds going toward GOTR-KMC and the Breast Cancer Fund. Terryberry Gallery has also donated a dazzling “I love Running” necklace for the dashing fashionista in us all.

This year’s LUNAFEST invites everyone to experience another woman’s world in the comfortable setting of San Chez’s event space. Guests can arrive at 5:45 p.m. and enjoy filling up on the provided tapas and appetizers while grabbing a signature cocktail, made exclusively for the event, at the cash bar before the films start rolling at 6:30 p.m.

Find tickets and more information along with a brief overview of this year’s films at or at

Grab a seat, Grand Rapids. The movie’s starting.

What: LunaFest Grand Rapids
Where: San Chez Bistro, 38 Fulton St. NW
When: Thursday, April 27 at 5:45 p.m.
Tickets: $15. Tickets at

Watch the LUNAFEST trailer here.

LUNAFEST 2017 Film Line-up:

Another Kind of Girl by Khaldiya Jibawi
Family Tale by Dr. Patricia Beckmann-Wells
Free to Laugh by Lara Everly
Join the Club by Eva Vives
Niñera by Diane Weipert
Nkosi Coiffure by Frederike Migom
Partners by Joey Ally
The Honeys and the Bears by Veena Rao
The Third Dad by Theresa Moerman IB

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

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