LunaFest film series to play on-Island

"Date With Fate." — Photo courtesy of LunaFest

A medley of nine short films by and about women comes to the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club in Edgartown on Thursday, June 12. The LunaFest event is a fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Fund and the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. LunaFest is a national organization that uses film to raise money for women’s issues in more than 150 screenings nationwide.

Featuring filmmakers from Australia, the Netherlands, Greece, and Norway, as well as the U.S., this year’s films address a variety of issues. They range from a story of a teenager who is the only female on her school’s wrestling team, and one about a girl with Tourette’s Syndrome, to a septuagenarian basketball team and an animated film about how sounds gives shape to space.

“I’m hoping it [LunaFest] will become an annual event here,” longtime Vineyard summer resident Mary Jane Williams of Oak Bluffs and Southington, Conn., told The Times last weekend. The San Francisco-based organization, which calls itself the Whole Nutrition Bar for Women, has already raised more than $656,000 for the Breast Cancer Fund and more than $1.5 million for other nonprofit organizations serving women.

As a member of the steering committee for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Ms. Williams organized the event, which has already occurred on Nantucket for several years. “I think it’s really important,” she said of the connection between women’s health issues and the environment. “One in eight women have breast cancer. People have had their heads in the sand for a long time.”

The Breast Cancer Fund serves as an advocate for studying the link between breast cancer and chemical exposure. The fund’s “State of the Evidence: The Connection between Breast Cancer and the Environment” is in its sixth edition. The Fund is also a founding member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and is working to eliminate the use of BPA, a chemical used in food and beverage containers that has been linked to breast cancer. The Fund sponsors outdoor events for breast cancer survivors and supporters like Climb Against the Odds and Peak Hike.

The European Union is more advanced than the U.S. in addressing chemical contamination of food and the environment, according to Ms. Williams. Federal legislation to control toxic contamination is currently under consideration, as well as sanctions against fracking, which pollutes water supplies.

“I’m expecting it [Island participation in LunaFest] to start small but grow,” Ms. Williams said. In addition to the film screenings, the Alliance of Nurses is sponsoring a workshop on writing about women and environmental health issues. Six nurses from Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and other states will attend the four-day workshop in Oak Bluffs. Dr. Barbara Sattler of the University of San Francisco School of Nursing and Health Professions will lead the workshop. She will also speak before the LunaFest film screening.

The event begins with a cocktail reception and silent auction from 4 to 5 pm, followed by the films, from 5 to 9 pm. The cost is $100 for the reception and screenings, or $25 for the screenings. For more information, contact Mary Jane Williams at