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Lunafest spotlights players — and filmmakers — who've got game

Women's film festival, which includes documentary about over-70 basketball players, donates proceeds to social causes.

May 01, 2014|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Members of a senior women's basketball team in North Carolina star in a 10-minute short titled "Granny's Got Game," which will screen Saturday at Lunafest.
Members of a senior women's basketball team in North… (Patrick Calhoun )

Angela Alford spent three months, silently, on the sidelines.

The former professional athlete, who is 6-foot-5 and played for Vanderbilt University and USA Basketball in the 1990s, had a hard time believing the scene unfolding in front of her. A senior women's amateur basketball team from Raleigh, N.C., her hometown, was battling it out on the court.

"I thought they must be genetic anomalies to still be playing in their 70s," she said. "Surely they just didn't age like the rest of us."

What started out as giving advice on a shot or calling out encouragement from the bleachers led to her coaching the Fabulous 70s at the National Senior Games in Texas in 2011.

With that experience, the now-38-year-old Alford, who went on to direct a short and full-length movie about the players, both titled "Granny's Got Game," believes she blurred the lines between filmmaker and subject. She wouldn't have it any other way, though.

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"It turns out that they have the same aches and pains as we all do, but they love the game and they love each other, so they keep playing together," she said. "I still check on them in practice. I sell them Girl Scout cookies from my daughter. They are like grandmothers to my kids."

Alford's 10-minute version of "Granny's Got Game" will screen Saturday as part of Lunafest. The event, established in 2000 by the makers of the Luna Bar, advertised as a nutrition bar for women, is a traveling film festival that highlights shorts "by, for and about women."

Between October and June, Lunafest travels to more than 150 locations in North America. In recent months, it has made stops in Florida, Ohio, Kansas City, Connecticut and elsewhere and expects an estimated 250,000 viewers to attend its 2013-14 season. The program attracts 950 submissions every year and pays $1,000 to each filmmaker who makes the cut.

Also, 100% of the net proceeds go to charity, with 924 organizations that assist women having been aided to date. Eighty-five percent of Lunafest's earnings, which have so far translated to $1.25 million, is channeled toward causes local to each hosting city, such as the Community Action Partnership of Sonoma, YWCA of Missoula and Theatre Workshop of Nantucket. The remaining 15% — roughly $656,000 — has been donated to the Breast Cancer Fund, the festival's main beneficiary.

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