Hunter Funk said she struggled, like many girls, to find herself during her years in middle school.
Having grown up with only brothers, she said it was hard to find out where she fit in a new world of teenage girls.
“It felt like there were so many things I had to be — hip, fun, cute,” Funk said. “It was hard to find someone to follow, and I think everyone just wants someone to look up to.”
But now, Funk said she is using her talents to encourage teenage girls struggling to find their confidence like she once did.
Funk’s film, “Girls Academy,” will be featured at the LunaFest Women’s Film Festival in Moscow this year. LunaFest is a festival that exclusively shows independent short films produced by women, for women and about women. The festival is produced by LUNA, a company that manufactures nutrition bars.
When Funk first heard about LunaFest, she said she started thinking about what had been going on in the Moscow community with women’s issues, especially in light of the Women’s March in January. She heard her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, was hosting a leadership retreat for girls at Moscow Middle School, and Funk said she immediately knew what her film would be about.
“It couldn’t have been more perfect,” Funk said. “Middle school is a time in our lives where we all start to find ourselves and struggle with that. I really wanted to capture that.”
The retreat, called Girls Inspiring Respect Leadership and Service (GIRLS), focuses on building self-confidence and leadership skills in girls at Moscow Middle School. Funk said women from Kappa Kappa Gamma volunteered to coordinate group activities, panels and workshops that encouraged the girls to find their inner strength and support one another.
While she captured footage from the entire weekend, Funk said she really wanted to focus her film on the leaders at the retreat.
“All of the leaders used their experiences to pour into those girls,” Funk said. “It was super inspiring and really emotional to watch.”
Funk said she can trace her passion for capturing the world on video back to her eighth-grade year, when she took a broadcasting class.
“At that point, I realized I loved the attention from the cameras,” Funk said. “I liked being behind it and in front of it.”
Funk said her favorite part about filmmaking is the ability to learn and be curious about many different things. She said she has learned so much more about the world in the last three years of studying film at the University of Idaho.
“I love the adventures,” Funk said. “I love the tears. I love the happiness. All of it inspires me to keep filming.”
This will be the third year the UI Women’s Center has hosted the festival. Each year, the Women’s Center selects original short films by local students and filmmakers in Moscow.
Iris Alatorre, office manager at the Women’s Center, said it’s important to provide a place for women like Funk to showcase their work, even in a community as small as Moscow.
“Throughout history, women haven’t been able to share their stories,” Alatorre said. “Most of history is told from white men. We need these stories out there to relate to, learn about and understand.”
LunaFest will return to Moscow on March 8 at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre. The Women’s Center will host a pre-screening reception at 6:30 p.m., and the film screenings will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at the Women’s Center. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Breast Cancer Fund and the Betsy Thomas Gender Equality Scholarship, a scholarship awarded by the Women’s Center to two UI students each year.
Funk said she hopes people who come to LunaFest and see her film will realize there’s a community in Moscow that supports one another.
“If I heard these stories when I was young, it would have given me guidance,” Funk said. “We can always encourage one another, because people are always looking for a role model.”
Taryn Hadfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org