Academy Award winning actor Geena Davis and ARC Entertainment announced the launch of the Bentonville Film Festival(BFF), a one-of-a-kind inaugural event designed to champion women and diversity in film. The Festival, which will take place from May 5 – 9 in Bentonville, Arkansas, will be the first and only film competition in the world to offer guaranteed theatrical, television, digital and retail home entertainment distribution for its winners.

Geena Davis Promotes Diversity With Bentonville Film Festival

The festival, which is being hosted by ARC Entertainment, Walmart, Coca-Cola and AMC Theatres, will be chaired by Geena Davis and will screen approximately 75 films in competition, ranging from studio premieres to independent features and documentaries. The Festival’s Advisory Board is comprised 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.


While individual activities for each advisory board member will vary, they will include garnering support within the entertainment industry, leading mentorship activities, film selection input, festival jury participation, defining success metrics and measuring effectiveness of programs, and offering broad strategic counsel.


“I have been an advocate for women for most of my adult life,” said Geena Davis. “The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is dedicated to improving the representation in gender and diversity of talent, filmmakers, and business leaders by growing awareness through research, education and advocacy. 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.”


Films that receive the Audience, Jury Selection and Best Family Film awards at the Bentonville Film Festival will receive a distribution agreement with a guaranteed traditional theatrical release on a minimum of 25 screens from AMC Theatres. AMC Theatres will also participate in the film submission and jury selection process.


“I’m honored to collaborate with ARC Entertainment, Walmart, AMC and Coca-Cola to launch this important initiative,” added Davis. “I have been so impressed with the commitment Walmart has made to support Women through their Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, which has as one of its goals to source $20 billion from women-owned businesses in the U.S.”


In addition to the film screenings, the Bentonville Film Festival will include a star studded award show hosted by Geena Davis and presented by Kraft Foods Group, multiple panel discussions with celebrities and industry leaders, and family film night events that will be free to the public and held in exciting non-traditional venues.


Following the debut of the event, the Bentonville Film Foundation as part of the Bentonville Film Festival initiative will launch a year-round event calendar to promote women and minority filmmakers, artists, directors, and producers at colleges and 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.


Film submissions for the festival opened on Jan. 15, 2015, with films accepted into competition being announced in March 2015.