Wednesday, November 28, 2012

LunaFest films impact lives

Meant to empower, festival shorts inspire everything from knitting to running

Express Staff Writer

“A Good Year” Lunafest.

    When valley resident Dani Stern attended Lunafest two years ago with her daughter Sierra, one film in particular, about knitting, sparked a passion.
    “She’s been knitting away ever since,” the mother said of her sixth-grader.
    Pastimes, diversions, inspiration and goals are important to impart to her daughter, not just because that’s what moms do, but because Stern is battling cancer and doesn’t know when her on-the-job training might end.
    The films about women and girls are brought to the valley each year as LunaFest, a benefit for Girls on the Run of the Wood River Valley, a self-esteem-raising club that emphasizes strength in life using running as one of the many empowerment tools.
    The festival—scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 1, at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum—also includes a reception and silent auction, with items such as a painting by valley artist Melissa Graves Brown, a package for chiropractic care, dinner at DaVinci’s restaurant, tickets to the play “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” snowshoes, shopping sprees and even a private party at Whiskey Jacques’ saloon in Ketchum.
    As a Girl Scout leader for the past decade, Stern is drawn to participate in empowerment programs like the scouts and Girls on the Run because it not only gives her a chance to bond with her daughter, but also exposes her daughter to other like-minded mothers who Sierra can lean on when things are overwhelming.
    “They are women that I know will take an active role in her life when I’m gone,” she said. “They are women that know me well enough to keep her on the path I would choose for her.”
    Stern, wife of chiropractor Aaron Stern, is also a mother to Asher, 8. As parents, they strive to keep the kids moving forward and not using cancer as an excuse not to live each day to its fullest.
    Stern said she believes there is a correlation between her situation—keeping her confidence up for her ongoing fight with cancer—and the determination that Girls on the Run stokes in girls by setting their sights on the end goal of a final five-kilometer race.
    “I think it’s a great way for girls to be active, strong and to work together,” she said.
     But the emphasis of the program is not just on learning how to run. The club is more about dealing with life’s challenges, such as self-esteem issues, bullying and body image, as well as service to the community.
  Executive Director Mary Fauth said the films are not all overtly message-filled; some are just documentaries of interesting people and the things that they do.
  The knitting film that caught Sierra’s eye was about a group of women of all ages, and some men, who turned their talent at knitting into a community beautification project. Knitted “cozies” were placed on posts and trees, similar to the artwork seen around Ketchum on utility boxes.
    Stern said the process of knitting calms her daughter in difficult times or when the stress of her mother’s illness is overbearing. Some of Sierra’s teachers let her knit in class to help her focus. It has also gotten her linked with her grandma, who lives far away, but shares the interest.
    Sierra is now trying to get a club started to knit together and is looking for projects that would benefit from her skills.
    “One little film has had a big impact on our family,” Stern said.
    And because she’s lost her hair from chemotherapy sessions, Stern has been given a number of “amazing” hats that Sierra has made.
    For more information on the club or the festival, visit

Girl-power films
What: Lunafest, a reception and silent auction, speakers and a film series of shorts (PG-16).
When: Saturday, Dec. 1, at
6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $15 for adults; $10 for students in advance, online, or at Sturtevants in Ketchum and Hailey; $20 at the door.
Where: nexStage Theatre, 120 S. Main Street in Ketchum.
Benefits: The Breast Cancer Fund and Girls on the Run WRV.


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