Ginger Stickel, Colleen deVeer, Ashley Judd and Wendy Reyes at 4th Annual Greenwich International Film Festival (Photo Credit: Asher Almonacy / Greenwich Free Press)

Greenwich International Film Festival Gives Voice to Women

The 4th Annual Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF) was held May 31 through June 3 and women were prominently represented during the four-day festival.

Fifty percent of the films at GIFF were written or directed by women. Actress, activist and TIME Magazine Person of the Year Ashley Judd was the Changemaker award recipient at the Changemaker Gala on Thursday, May 31. The Opening Night Party on June 1 featured a performance by Ms. Lauryn Hill, whose charity, The Lauryn Hill Charitable Fund, will receive a portion of the night’s proceeds.

As in past years, the event was sponsored by local, national and international brands, including Betteridge, J.P. Morgan, Lillian August and Pepsi. Audience members were treated to complimentary coffee from beverage partner RISE Brewing Co. (founded by Brunswick alums). The bar offered two signature cocktails created by East End’s mixologist, featuring Absolut Elyx and Monkey 47 Dry Gin.

Female Artists Make an Impact

Generation Wealth was directed by acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield (Thin, kids+money, #likeagirl). The film examines the damaging obsession with excess and fame over the last 25 years, and how the “American Dream” has been corrupted by consumerism. In her examination of how “Keeping up with the Joneses” has been replaced with “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” Greenfield’s film is a thought-provoking take on the power of greed and its effect on society.

A Woman Captured, from first-time director Bernadett Tuza-Ritter, is a profile of a domestic slave in Hungary who spent more than a decade in servitude. The screening was followed by a Q&A with the film’s director and Mary Lee A. Kiernan, president and CEO of YWCA Greenwich. According to Kiernan, most of the calls to the YWCA Greenwich Domestic Abuse Services hotline are “IRV” calls (intimate relationship violence), but there have been local cases of non-intimate domestic abuse.

“It starts with a lack of awareness,” said Kiernan. “It shocks people that there’s modern day slavery going on.”

There are 45 million people enslaved around the world in 2018, victims of sex trafficking or domestic servitude. Greenwich is not immune to these incidents. In January, two Greenwich teens were victims of sex trafficking through the website The classified-ad website is involved in nearly three quarters of reported online child sex trafficking cases.

How You Can Help

If you’d like to learn more about the woman profiled in A Woman Captured and donate to a fundraising campaign for her, visit Locally, YWCA Greenwich has launched the 2018 Men Against Domestic Violence Campaign to help end domestic abuse. To add your voice of support, visit and take a stand against domestic violence.