What was once known for being the tenth largest city in Arkansas and location of the Walmart headquarters will now be home of the Bentonville Film Festival. Chaired by actress Geena Davis and hosted by ARC Entertainment, the festival is designed to champion women and diversity in film and media. Being a close cause for the Academy Award winner, Geena Davis is the Founder and Chair of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
Located at Mount St. Mary’s College, the organization is the first of its kind to educate and engage entertainment companies in bringing awareness for gender balance in the arts and media. When asked why she created the institute, Davis proclaimed, ““I have been an advocate for women for most of my adult life.” Now the institute is continuing their influence with the support of the Bentonville Film Festival. “The Bentonville Film Festival is a critical component of how we can directly impact the quantity and quality of females and minorities on screen and behind-the scenes,” Davis adds.
The Bentonville Film Festival, which will take place from May 5-9, is the first and only film competition to guarantee theatrical, television, digital and retail home entertainment distribution for its winning filmmakers. Hosted by ARC Entertainment, Walmart, Coca-Cola and AMC Theatres, the festival will screen over 75 films, ranging from independent features and documentaries to studio premieres.
The festival’s advisory board is made up of entertainment industry leaders and artists including Angela Bassett, Bruce Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, Randy Jackson, Eva Longoria, Julianne Moore, Paula Patton, Natalie Portman, Nina Tassler and Shailene Woodley. During and after the festival, each advisory board member will lead activities ranging from mentoring, film selection advising, and jury participation, among other activities. It’s this acute attention to mentorship, that ARC Entertainment CEO and BFF co-founder Trevor Drinkwater believes “education will continue to grow and become a focal point” in the festival’s near future. From short films to screenplay writing, the attention garnering female and minority diversity in film will most likely continue into other areas of interests in upcoming years.
Recently Sound On Sight sat down to speak with Trevor Drinkwater. When asked how BFF will differ from the echelon of highly publicized film festivals, he remarked, “We are researched based and commercially measured.”
Through a precise selection process, the Bentonville Film Festival is preserving quality by securing meaningful and balanced roles among a wider audience. The festival is shortening the gap between racial and gender groups, and 2015 is the year that will be of notice.
Films that receive the Audience, Jury Selection and Best Family Film awards at the Bentonville Film Festival will receive distribution on at least 25 screens from AMC Theatres. Film submissions for the festival are now open and will be announced in March 2015. Following the festival, the Bentonville Film Foundation will launch a year-round event calendar to promote women and minority filmmakers and artists at universities around the country in partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which is the official non-profit partner of the festival. With the festival’s strides in educating the world on the importance of gender and racial equality, there is no doubt that the words of Geena Davis and Trevor Drinkwater will have a continued impact on the entertainment industry for years to come.
The Bentonville Film Festival is May 5-9, 2015 in Bentonville, Arkansas.