From Screen to Reality: Films That Inspire at Girls on the Run’s New Festival

Rockville-based nonprofit Girls on the Run of Montgomery County has announced the upcoming GOTR FilmFest, aiming to boost awareness and fundraising for the program.

Scheduled for the evening of Feb. 29, the event will feature independent short films, speakers, and activities celebrating women, while shedding light on Girls on the Run’s mission and its Scholarship Fund.

According to a press release, the organization’s programs focus on empowering girls of all abilities, fostering inner strength, building connections, and promoting healthy habits through physical activities and discussions led by trained coaches. In today’s uncertain times, the skills gained from Girls on the Run hold significant value.

The GOTR FilmFest 2024 will showcase three films from the SIMA Academy, a renowned collection of globally sourced short documentaries that aim to inspire a more just and sustainable world. The featured films include:

  • “Run Rep Run”: This documentary follows a first-time, millennial, Latina politician in a small New England city, illustrating how change begins at the grassroots level and flourishes through dedication and effort. It prompts viewers to consider what actions they can take to drive change in their communities.

  • “India’s Wushu Warrior”: The story revolves around Fareeha, a 14-year-old Muslim schoolgirl with aspirations of becoming a champion fighter. Despite facing opposition from her family, who deem it unsuitable for a girl to engage in public combat, Fareeha navigates these challenges and emerges victorious in her category. Her triumph conveys a powerful message advocating for gender equality in opportunities and freedoms.

  • “Girls Like Us”: Set in Tanzania, this film sheds light on the societal expectations imposed on women to fulfill domestic roles while men are at work. Against this backdrop, Winnie, a teenage girl yearning for intellectual stimulation, joins Apps & Girls in 2013. This organization empowers young girls by teaching them how to code and create websites, providing them with a platform to explore their potential beyond traditional gender roles.

Girls on the Run of Montgomery County helps over 4,000 girls annually, with more than 1,000 receiving financial aid. Additionally, the program gives out 200 pairs of shoes to underserved girls each year.

“Events like GOTR FilmFest keep Girls on the Run affordable and keep Girls on the Run within Montgomery County,” said Elizabeth Richards, President of the GOTR of Montgomery County Advisory Council, a group of young professionals who support the mission of Girls on the Run. “We are committed to removing financial barriers so every girl who wants to participate in Girls on the Run can. The money raised from the GOTR FilmFest funds scholarships so girls can enroll in the program, provides running shoes for participating girls who need them, and ensures coaches receive first aid/CPR training.”

Girls on the Run offers enjoyable, evidence-based programs that motivate all girls to enhance their confidence, kindness, and decision-making skills. The interactive lessons teach valuable life skills, emphasizing the connection between physical and emotional well-being. Participants also prepare for a 5K race after each season.

An independent study revealed that 97 percent of girls learned essential life skills through Girls on the Run, such as managing emotions, resolving conflicts, assisting others, and making thoughtful decisions. These skills are reportedly utilized in their daily lives, whether at home, school or with friends.

“Being a teacher for over a decade, I see that students, particularly girls, need a sense of community, lessons to improve their self-esteem and the power of positive thinking. That’s what Girls on the Run offers our girls. The impact is evident, as many use the same language and strategies with their peers and teachers,” said Shern Hall, GOTR of Montgomery County coach and member of the GOTR of Montgomery County Advisory Council.

The GOTR FilmFest is scheduled to take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on February 29 at the Suburban Hospital Auditorium in Bethesda. Tickets are priced between $25 and $45 and are available for purchase on Eventbrite.

Photo: © pavel1964 – stock.adobe.com

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