The Bentonville Film Festival is a diversity-focused yearly event founded by fem hero Geena Davis and ARC Entertainment executive Trevor Drinkwater. In a surprising turn the festival is sponsored by Walmart in the small town of Bentonville, Arkansas. Geena Davis has long been a supporter of a fair and balanced showing of women in media, having found the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media after she starred in the must-see Thelma and Louise. Um, we LOVE women advocating for women!!
The festival has had Advisory Board members that include Shonda Rhimes, Viola Davis, Bruce Dern, and Natalie Portman just to name a few. Each member of the board and the juries are vocal supporters of taking film beyond the realm of middle age white men. Plus, check this: ALL films that win the Audience, Jury, and Best Family Film awards receive guaranteed theatrical distribution (!!). Yup, you can see festival winners in AMC Theatres, on Lifetime, or on a DVD or video-on-demand-released by Walmart. In 2015, 87% of the films shown were distributed – which is great because it means people like you and me can see tons of diverse films super easily! In a market where women and diverse voices are still struggling to be seen and paid equally, this is an industry changing movement. There is also the added perk that you can watch film festival worthy movies-maybe with your favorite vinas-from the comfort of you own living room.
If all of these things don’t get you super excited about the Bentonville Film Festival, just know that they celebrated the launch with an A League of Their Own softball game. Come on – that is absolutely amazing and I get behind anything that brings my most loved feminist movie back to life.
Head over to the BFF website (we’re a fan of this unofficial abbreviation) to see past winners, submission requirements, and other news. Feminists, film lovers, and anyone who thought Geena Davis was the real star of Beetlejuice should all get behind this movement to make the movie industry more reflective of our modern world.
(All photos courtesy of the BFF website)