OGDEN — Confronting your fears and facing social pressure, isolation and rejection can be difficult.

Sarah Feeley said it’s even harder to do that in front of a camera.

But Feeley wanted to remind the world how important it is to love people for who they are, so she made a short documentary for CNN Films entitled “Raising Ryland.” The film, which focuses on a profoundly deaf 6-year-old transgender boy named Ryland, was selected to be shown at this year’s LUNAFEST Film Festival, which is making a stop at Weber State University on March 4.

“‘Raising Ryland’ is an intimate look at parenting with no strings attached,” Feeley said in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “This first-hand account showcases what happens when a boy who cannot hear teaches the world around him to listen.”

Feeley said she was heartbroken by the rising number of LGBTQ youth who felt so hopeless and unloved that suicide seemed like their best option.

“When we share our stories, we become visible and reduce shame. I wanted to show that there are parents out there who love and support their children with no strings attached even when it means confronting their own fears and expectations,” she said.



WHAT: LUNAFEST film festival

WHEN: 7 p.m. March 4

WHERE: Wildcat Theater, Shepherd Union Building, Weber State University, 3848 Harrison Blvd., Ogden

ADMISSION: $15 or $10/WSU students; 801-626-6090, www.lunafest.org/ogden0304


The festival, hosted by Weber State University’s Women’s Center, will be held at the WSU Wildcat Theater. Although in its 15th year, this is the first year LUNAFEST has come to Ogden.

LUNAFEST is a short film festival by, for and about women, said Paige Davies, Women’s Center advocate and program specialist. Established in 2000 by LUNA, the makers of the Whole Nutrition Bar for Women, LUNAFEST connects women, their stories and their causes through film.

“This traveling film festival spotlights the work of a diverse array of talented women filmmakers with intelligent, funny and thought-provoking themes,” Davies said. “All proceeds will benefit the Breast Cancer Fund, the WSU Women’s Center and Soroptomist International of Ogden.”

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Soroptimist is a worldwide organization of local clubs for professional and business women. Its focus is education, which leads to social and economic empowerment, supporting not only local, but international projects. Proceeds from this event given to SIO will support grants for nontraditional women students with financial need who are the sole supporters of their families, Davies said.

“The Weber State University Women’s Center works diligently every day to strengthen and improve the lives of women, children and their communities through empowering, advocating, educating and increasing pathways to resources on campus and within the larger Weber and Davis communities,” Davies said. “Much of our work is directly with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. Many survivors that we provide advocacy for are in need of emergency funding to move, buy food and clothes for their children, replace destroyed objects and various other costs. Proceeds from this event will go into our emergency fund to directly support these survivors.”

Since its inception, LUNAFEST has grown from a single annual event to a coast-to-coast force with more than 175 North American screenings each season. To date, 127 filmmakers have been featured, nearly $2.9 million dollars has been raised and thousands of attendees have come away moved, entertained and inspired, Davies said.

In addition to “Raising Ryland,” five other films will be shown at Weber State:

Balsa Wood,” written and directed by Dominique Lecchi, is about two mixed race siblings visiting their extended Filipino family for lunch.

“First World Problems,” directed by Hanna Maylett, tells the story of a tired housewife who loses her car in a shopping mall, opening a door to a whole new world.

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"First World Problems" at LUNAFEST

A tired housewife loses her car in a shopping mall and sees a whole new world open up in "First World Problems," part of LUNAFEST on March 4 at Weber State University. The film festival features six movies by, for and about women.

“Beach Flags” is about a young Iranian lifeguard determined to participate in an international competition in Australia. She experiences an unexpected obstacle when a new team member arrives. The film was directed by Sarah Saidan.

“Finding June,” written by Anna Schumacher, follows a young deaf woman named June who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Throughout her care and support meetings, she is helped by an interpreter. The film addresses the importance of understanding one another through experience, despite language and communication barriers.

Meg Smaker’s documentary, “Boxeadora,” focuses on a female boxer in a man’s sport, trying to follow her dreams of Olympic glory.

Tickets for the festival are $15 for the general public and $10 for WSU students. You can purchase them at www.lunafest.org/ogden0304 or at the Shepherd Union information desk on campus, 3848 Harrison Blvd.

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