The inclusive lineup includes an impressive slate of films – more than half from underrepresented creators – including 42 Competition Films, 13 episodic content presentations, notable showcase screenings of top festival films, critical favorites, anniversary screenings of classics, a presentation of family focused and animated greats, and every film to date from the Marvel Cinema Universe in a special free-to-the-public presentation for BFF’s film fans. Short film selections will be announced next week.
“This year’s edition of the Bentonville Film Festival truly exemplifies our mission,” said BFF co-Founder Geena Davis. We are thrilled to honor industry pioneers, while at the same time recognizing current trendsetters and changemakers, and showcasing a new class of inclusive storytellers. To be able to bring them all together in one place to enact change – that is what BFF is all about.” Click here for the full schedule or read on for an overview.
Films in the dramatic feature competition this year include: Marisol Gomez-Mouakad’s ANGELICA; Sanghoon Lee’s BANANA SEASON; Kevin Arbouet’s BENJI THE DOVE; Marinanna Palka’s EGG; Tom Huang’s FIND ME; Sean Olson’s F.R.E.D.I.; Anne-Marie Hess’s GOOD AFTER BAD; Jenna Laurenzo’s LEZ BOMB; Molly McGlynn’s MARY GOES ROUND; Autumn McAlpin’s MISS ARIZONA; Vashhti Anderson’s MOKO JUMBIE; Santiago Rizzo’s QUEST; Alex Ranarivelo’s RIDE; Jenn McGowan’s RUST CREEK; Megan Griffith’s SADIE; Anthony Nardolillo’s SHINE; Ramaa Mosley’s TATTERDEMALION; Mark Dennis and Ben Foster’s TIME TRAP; Teddy Smith’s URBAN COUNTRY; Nadine Truong’s I CAN I WILL I DID; Suzi Yoonessi’s UNLOVABLE; and Kendall Goldberg’s WHEN JEFF TRIED TO SAVE THE WORLD.
Documentary features in competition include: Marvin Blunte’s 6 WEEKS TO MOTHER’S DAY; Joanna James’s A FINE LINE; Skye Borgman’s ABDUCTED IN PLAIN SIGHT; Robin Hauser’s BIAS; Stacey Reiss’s DAUGHTERS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION; Luis Prieto’s THE DISUNITED STATES OF AMERICA; Brian Ivie’s EMANUEL; Dan Habib’s INTELLIGENT LIVES; Susan Kucera’s LIVING IN FUTURE’S PAST; Trish Russo and Craig E. Shapiro’s LOVE ALWAYS, MOM; T Cooper’s MAN MADE; Sebastien Paquet’s MIND OVER MATTER; Rob Herring and Ryan Wirick’s THE NEED TO GROW; Kulap Vilaysack’s ORIGIN STORY; Kate Hickey’s ROLLER DREAMS; Mark Hayes’s SKID ROW MARATHON; Robin Berghaus’s STUMPED; Jillian Moul and Matthew Moul’s SURVIVING HOME; Maya Washington’s THROUGH THE BANKS OF THE RED CEDARS; P.J. Marcellino, and Hermon Farahi’s WHEN THEY AWAKE and Sally Colón-Petree’s WOMEN LIKE US.
The Episodic Projects vying for prizes are: Ben Strang’s Beast; Morgan Beck’s Brooke; Keith Miller’s Brooklynification; Jennifer Morrison’s Fabled; Raj Trivedi’s From Jappan; Corrie Chen and Tori Garrett’s Mustangs FC; Kholi Hicks’s Reaver Vs. Specter; Max Rissman’s Root for the Villain; Will Seefried’s Sink Sank Sunk; Andrew Olsen’s SusaneLand; Jeremy Redleaf’s Threads; Milena Govich’s Unspeakable; and Allison Vanore’s Whatta Lark (Ep 1).
BFF previously announced that Elissa Downs’s THE HONOR LIST would make its world premiere as the Opening Night selection, with Lea Thompson’s THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN screening as this year’s Centerpiece selection.
Special Spotlight selections include; Carlos Lopez Estrada’s drama BLINDSPOTTING, about the intersection of race and class, set against the backdrop of a rapidly gentrifying Oakland; Sara Driver’s documentary BOOM FOR REAL, about legendary New York City-centric artist Jean-Michel Basquiat; Brett Haley’s crowd-pleaser HEARTS BEAT LOUD, starring Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons as a father and daughter, who form an unlikely songwriting duo; Julie Cohen and Betsy West documentary RBG, about the inestimable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and Jennifer Fox’s Sundance hit, THE TALE, which stars Laura Dern, Ellen Burstyn, and Common, in a devastating film which dramatizes Fox’s reconciling her memories of her first sexual relationship with the reality of what actually transpired.
The Sony/ConAgra Outdoor Theatre @ Lawrence Plaza will offer a number of family-friendly and animated hits including; the recent Academy Award winner, Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina’s COCO, Ang Lee’s classic, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000); Otto Bell’s adventure film, THE EAGLE HUNTRESS (2016); both Joe Johnston’s JUMANJI (1995) and Jake Kasdan’s recent blockbuster hit, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, and Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook’s animated classic, MULAN (1998), celebrating its 20th Anniversary.
Additional highlights and events within the film festival are; the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge Finalists screening on Wednesday, May 3, followed by a Q&A with founder Nic Novicki; the special Project Zero screening and event on, Sunday, May 5, to raise awareness for the Arkansas-based organization’s mission to diligently and passionately promote adoption through the foster care system; the Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center, Ready Nation, Moms in Film and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families presentation of Raising America on Friday, May 4, followed by a panel discussion with Kyle Peterson, Alysia Reiner and others; the Samsung Create Event, on Thursday, May 23, presenting student filmmakers challenged to make a short film based on the mission of BFF by utilizing a Samsung Galaxy phone and tablet; and Marvel Experience, Wednesday May 2 – Friday May 4, at Skylight Cinema which will offer the ultimate Marvel Experience for film fans, with free film screenings, themed concessions and galactic experiences.
For the 4th consecutive year, BFF will remain the only film festival in the world to offer guaranteed distribution to its narrative feature film winner. BFF’ s distribution partners include AMC Theatres, Lifetime, Starz, ACI-Inspires and others.
In 2018, BFF will add new prizes for its other juried categories. Through a partnership with MarVista Entertainment, the winner of the Short Film Competition will be awarded a directing role on one of MarVista’s future feature films, providing an opportunity for diverse ideas, opinions and stories to be heard.
The winner of the Documentary Film Competition will receive a mentorship prize package sponsored by ITVS, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that has, for over 25 years, funded and partnered with a diverse range of documentary filmmakers to produce and distribute untold stories. The Episodic Competition winner will receive a prize package sponsored by SeriesFest, an award winning festival dedicated to showcasing the best and boldest in episodic storytelling from around the world, that includes a screening at the SeriesFest Season 4 in Denver, a consultation with an industry professional, and a VIP Badge.