The purpose of POWFest is to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of women directors, including those who have been true trailblazers for all women behind the camera. Each season POWFest honors one director whos body of work has exemplified the heart of POWFest determination, courage and mentorship.

POWFest Pioneer Award Recipients

2013 ~ Penelope Spheeris
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Often referred to as a Rock ‘n Roll anthropologist, Spheeris worked as a film editor and cinematographer before forming her own company in 1974. ROCK ‘N REEL was the first Los Angeles production company specializing in music videos. She produced, directed, and edited videos for major bands through the Seventies and Eighties, concluding her music video work with the Grammy nominated, “Bohemian Rhapsody” video for WAYNE’S WORLD. She has enjoyed two distinct careers in film – one where she does mainstream Hollywood films such as WAYNE’S WORLD, and the other where she does independent music themed documentaries such as the DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION films.


2012 ~ Amy Heckerling


Amy’s short films received prizes at the NYU Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, the prestigious Bronx Film Festival, and secured her place at the American Film Institute. Her AFI short got her into Universal, where she directed FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, followed by JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY and EUROPEAN VACATION. Heckerling’s other films include: LOOK WHO’S TALKING, LOOK WHO’S TALKING TOO, CLUELESS and VAMPS.

2011 ~ Gillian Armstrong


Gillian Armstrong first garnered attention for her debut feature, My BRILLIANT CAREER (1979), about a female writer who chooses her career over marriage. At the film’s release Gillian Armstrong held the distinction of being the first woman to direct a feature-length movie in Australia in almost 50 years. Alternating between period pieces and edgy modern works, her films’ often focus on human dramas and stories with a sense of hope and compassion. Her feature credits include STAR SRUCK, MRS SOFFEL, HIGH TIDE, THE LAST DAYS OF CHEZ NOUS, LITTLE WOMENM OSCAR AND LUCINDA, CHARLOTTE GRAY and SEATH DEFYING ACTS. Gillian’s films’ have been nominated for Academy and Golden Globe Awards and received awards from the Australian Film Institute, the Film Critics Circle of Australia, the Houston Film Festival, Festival International de Creteil the US National Society of Film Critics, the British Critics Association and the British Academy.

2009 ~ Irene Taylor Brodsky


Irene is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning, Oscar-nominated, producer, director, writer and cinematographer. Irene’s most recent film, THE FINAL INCH, was nominated for a 2009 Academy Award®, three Emmy Awards, and won the International Documentary Association’s Pare Lorentz Award for Outstanding Cinematography. Her first feature-length film, HEAR AND NOW, premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award and went on to receive a 2008 Peabody award and numerous Audience and Jury awards around the world. HEAR AND NOW was also nominated for Documentary of the Year by the Producer’s Guild of America.

2008 ~ Allison Anders

Allison Anders

In 1995 Allison Anders was the recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant” and in 2002 she won a George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished achievement and meritorious service for her semi-autobiographical film “Things Behind the Sun”. From the release of her acclaimed first feature,”Border Radio” (1989), Anders has established a body of work that is innovative in its visual and sound style and marked by ensemble acting and strong women characters, including: “Gas Food Lodging” (1992), “Mi Vida Loca” (1993), “Grace of My Heart” (1996), “Sugar Town” (1999) and “Stutter: (2012).



 POWFest Special Guests

Summer 2013 ~ Ondi Timoner ~ Special Screening: WE LIVE IN PUBLIC & DIG!

Spring 2012 ~ Barbara Kopple ~ Special Screening: HARLAN COUNTY USA & A
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Summer 2009 ~ Kathryn Bigelow ~ Special Screening: THE HURT LOCKER


Kathryn Bigelow is a film director, producer and screenwriter. Her films include NEAR DARK (1987), POINT BREAK (1991), STRANGE DAYS (1995), THE WEIGHT OF WATER (2000), K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER (2002), THE HURT LOCKER (2009) and ZERO DARK THIRTY (2012). THE HURT LOCKER won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Picture, wond the BAFTA Award for Best Film, and was nominated for the 2009 Golden Globe for Best Drama. With THE HURT LOCKER, Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director, the Directors Build of America Award for Outstanding Directing, the BAFTA Award for Best Direction, and the Critics Choice Award for Best Director.