Jun 7, 2024 - News

Everything to know about the Bentonville Film Festival

photo of bentonville film fest

Ashley Edwards (left) and Wendy Guerrero attend the 2021 Bentonville Film Festival awards ceremony and party in 2021 in Bentonville. Photo: Justin Ford/Getty Images for BFFoundation

The Bentonville Film Festival, founded by actress and producer Geena Davis, returns to Northwest Arkansas next week for its 10th run.

Why it matters: The festival highlights women and other underrepresented groups in film — both on screen and behind the scenes. It also draws a big crowd that includes celebrities.

State of play: The event will include about 75 film screenings, including narrative features, documentaries and short films. Some have been making their way around the film-fest circuit to events like Sundance and Tribeca, and others will premiere in Bentonville, festival president Wendy Guerrero told Axios.

  • Panels are planned on subjects like AI in storytelling and analyzing women in STEM on screen. There's also a pitch-a-thon, where filmmakers will pitch their projects to a panel of media professionals, including Lisa Ann Walker, who plays Melissa on Abbot Elementary."
  • Singer-songwriter Linda Perry will perform a five-song set Thursday.
  • Actors Cassandra Freeman, Tika Sumpter and Michaela Watkins will participate in this year's Geena and Friends event, where they will reimagine traditional comedic narratives with an all-women cast, The Hollywood Reporter stated.

What they're saying: "We started it as a gathering place for artists and storytellers — voices to be heard," Guerrero said. "We saw a blank space and we didn't feel that it was being fulfilled, so that's kind of where we started. And it's really blossomed into one of the largest-growing festivals in the country."

  • The sheer scale of the event attracts artists and attendees from around the world, but the festival has also become a community for filmmakers where people find creative partners and go on to work together, she said.

Zoom out: Some familiar favorites like "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" and "Beetlejuice" will be screened outdoors at The Momentary. Those screenings, along with a "festival village" with booths and activities for kids, are free and open to the public.

If you go: The festival kicks off Monday and runs through June 16, with events at The Momentary, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Skylight Cinema and Thaden School. Get a pass for $375.

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