Geena Davis and the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF), which champions women and diverse voices in media announced today its narrative and documentary selections in competition to take place at the 2nd Annual Bentonville Film Festival on May 3 – 8, 2016.
The festival will feature approximately 34 films in competition including 16 documentaries and 18 narratives and expands its platform with the addition of a short film competition. With the help of founding sponsor Walmart, presenting sponsor Coca-Cola and distribution partners AMC Theatres, Lifetime and Starz, the Bentonville Film Festival remains the only festival to offer guaranteed distribution to the winning festival films for Audience, Best Family Film and Jury Awards. Walmart and BFF have a shared mission to champion diversity and inclusion. As the largest seller of physical movies, Walmart is always seeking great content to offer its customers and BFF provides an avenue to identify compelling films from women and diverse filmmakers. In its inaugural year, the festival saw more than 37,000 attendees and was able to grant distribution to 87% of its competition films through Walmart and other BFF distribution partners.
The films selected for the Narrative Competition are:
Albion: The Enchanted Stallion – Director: Castille Landon, Screenwriters: Castille Landon, Ryan O’Nan, Sarah Scougal. (USA/Bulgaria) World Premiere, 100 minutes
A twelve-year-old girl is transported by a magical black stallion to the mystical world of ALBION, where she discovers that she alone is the key to saving an entire race of people.
Cast: John Cleese, Debra Messing, Jennifer Morrison, Stephen Dorff, Richard Kind, Liam McIntyre, Daniel Sharman, Ryan O’Nan, Castille Landon and Avery Rath
American Fable – Director/Screenwriter: Anne Hamilton. (USA) 96 minutes
When 11-year-old Gitty discovers that her beloved father is hiding a wealthy man in her family’s silo in order to save their struggling farm, she befriends the captive in secret and quickly becomes trapped between protecting her family and her soul.
Cast: Richard Schiff, Peyton Kennedy, Kip Pardu, Marci Miller, Rusty Schwimmer, Gavin MacIntosh, Zuleikha Robinson
Comfort – Director/Screenwriter: William Lu (USA) 105 minutes
A late-night courier agrees to pick up the feisty daughter of an important client, and a romance blossoms between them as they explore LA’s food scene.
Cast: Christopher Dinh, Julie Zhan, Kelvin Han Yee, Billy Sly Williams
Embers – Director: Claire Carre’, Screenwriter: Charles Spano, Claire Carre’. (USA/Poland) 86 minutes
After a global neurological epidemic, those who remain search for meaning and connection in a world without memory.
Cast: Jason Ritter, Iva Gocheva, Greta Fernandez, Tucker Smallwood, Karl Glusman
Fair Market Value – Director: Kevin Arbouet, Story: Judy San Roman, Screenwriter: Kevin Arbouet. (USA) World Premiere, 99 minutes
Kendall, a real estate agent from Miami, moves to the suburbs of New York and immediately finds she has to join forces with Brooke, a competitive rival agent, to sell one of the most expensive mansions in Long Island.
Cast: Luisana Lopilato, Craig Bierko, Royce Johnson, Julia Duffy, Drew Meorlein, Jerry Adler, Wendy Makkena, Debra Jo Rupp, Tina Benko, Gene Gabriel, Olga Merediz
Five Nights in Maine – Director/Screenwriter: Maris Curran (USA) 82 minutes
A young African American man, reeling from the tragic loss of his wife, travels to rural Maine to seek answers from his estranged mother-in-law, who is herself confronting guilt and grief over her daughter’s death.
Cast: David Oyelowo, Dianne Wiest, Rosie Perez, Teyonah Parris, Hani Furstenberg
Good Enough – Director/Screenwriter: AnnaRose King (USA) 80 minutes
In the aftermath of her estranged father’s death, Lorna leaves her on-again-off-again boyfriend at home and sets off on a journey across the country in hopes of finding out more about her family and herself.
Cast: AnnaRose King, Ted Tremper, James Caan, Delaney Williams, Ilana Becker, Todd Bartels, Becky Yamamoto, Max Loeb, Sofiya Akilova , Peter Moore
It Had to Be You – Director/Screenwriter: Sasha Gordon (USA/Italy) 83 minutes
Sonia is a neurotic jingle writer who’s always dreamt of a big and exciting life. Surprised by a sudden proposal and subsequent ultimatum from her easy-going boyfriend, Chris, Sonia has to decide whether she’ll join the ranks of her married friends or take a leap and pursue her fantasies.
Cast: Cristin Milioti, Dan Soder, Halley Pfeiffer, Mark Gessner, Kyle Mooney
Josephine – Director: Rory Feek, Screenwriter: Rory Feek and Aaron Carnahan (USA) 80 minutes
In the spring of 1864, a desperate young farmer’s wife enlists in the army, posing as a man. She battles the enemy, the men of her unit and her own identity in a quest that takes her on a journey from Tennessee to Virginia in search of her missing husband.
Cast: Boris McGiver, Alice Coulthard, Jessejames Locorriere
Kid Witness – Director/Screenwriter: Kevin Kaufman (USA) World Premiere, 94 minutes
While her mother is away on business, a young girl home alone with her older brother witnesses her neighbor’s kidnapping. But no one believes her–not her brother, not the cops. In this family friendly romp, this precocious child takes matters into her own hands to save her neighbor.
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Ripley Sobo, Lev Gorn
Lost & Found – Director: Joseph Itaya, Screenwriters: Joseph Itaya, Erik Cardona (USA) 90 minutes
Andy and his younger brother Mark are sent to visit their estranged uncle on a mysterious island. They soon discover clues to a complex treasure hunt, a hunt that could lead to unimaginable wealth and heal their broken family – if they can find it in time.
Cast: Justin Kelly, Benjamin Stockham, Céleste Desjardins, with Cary Elwes, and Jason Patric
Operator – Director: Logan Kibens, Screenwriters: Sharon Greene, Logan Kibens (USA) 90 minutes
Joe, an obsessive computer programmer, and Emily, a budding comedy performer, are happily married until they decide to use one another in their work. Operator is a dark comedy about love, technology, and what can’t be programmed.
Cast: Martin Starr, Mae Whitman, Nat Faxon, Cameron Esposito, Retta, Christine Lahti
Running Wild – Director: Alex Ranarivelo, Screenwriters: Christina Moore & Brian Rudnick (USA) World Premiere, 98 minutes
A young widow forced to save her ranch after her husband’s fatal car crash, creates a convict rehabilitation program with a herd of wild horses that wandered on her ranch. She has to overcome greed and bureaucracy to ultimately heal the convicts, horses and herself.
Cast: Sharon Stone, Tommy Flanagan, Jason Lewis, Dorian Brown & Tom Williamson
Saved By Grace – Director: Johnny Remo, Screenwriters: Ken Lemm, Lance Bachelder, Johnny Remo (USA) World Premiere, 85 minutes
A retired police officer, despondent over the loss of his family, contemplates a dramatic decision which will change his life forever. He then meets a mysterious woman who, through her personal stories, gives him a reason to re-examine what is most important to him.
Cast: Joey Lawrence, Catalina Rodriguez, Muse Watson, Christopher Michael
Swing Away – Director: Michael Achilles Nickles, Screenwriters: Paul Robert Lingas, Julia Wall Nickles (Greece/USA) World Premiere, 98 minutes
Following a meltdown on tour that results in her suspension, professional golfer Zoe Papadopoulos travels to her grandparents’ village in Greece for a much needed break. There Zoe rediscovers her Greek heritage, her love of the game, and her own hidden strength.
Cast: Shannon Elizabeth, John O’Hurley, Manos Gavras, Renos Haralambidis, Karl Theobald, Alexandros Mylonas, Olga Damani, Christos Sougaris, Viktoria Miller
Te Ata – Director: Nathan Frankowski, Screenwriters: Esther Luttrell, Jeannie Barbour (USA) World Premiere, 105 minutes
Based on a true story, Te Ata follows the life of Mary “Te Ata” Thompson Fisher, a young Chickasaw woman who is torn between the traditions of her family and her desire to become an actress in early 20th century America.
Cast: Q’orianka Kilcher, Graham Greene, Gil Birmingham, Mackenzie Astin, Brigid Brannagh, Cindy Pickett
The Mad Ones – Director/Screenwriter: Aniruddh Pandit (USA) World Premiere, 92 minutes
Three twenty-something professionals search for meaning in life and work in the digital age. In a world that won’t stop changing, Ricky, Claire and Nitin uncover the only constants of life: love and friendship.
Cast: Anthony Gioe, Dana DeLorenzo, Lavrenti Lopes
Wild Prairie Rose – Director: Deborah LaVine, Screenwriter: Sharon Greene (USA) World Premiere, 90 minutes
Rose returns to her small town to care for her ailing mother. Once there, she falls in love with a deaf man and must decide if she has the courage to follow her heart.
Cast: Tara Samuel, Troy Kotsur, Suanne Spoke, Courtney Jones
The films selected for the Documentary Competition are:
A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers – Directors: Geeta Gandbhir, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. (USA/Pakistan) 90 minutes
One hundred and sixty women leave their families in Bangladesh for one year to join the United Nations Stabilising Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). They form one of the world’s first all female, predominantly Muslim peacekeeping units, shattering every stereotype the world holds about the capabilities of Muslim women.
An Act of Love – Director: Scott Sheppard. (USA) 86 minutes
In 2013, Rev. Frank Schaefer gained national attention for officiating his son’s same-sex wedding. The Schaefer family was drawn into a movement for LGBTQ equality in the nation’s second largest protestant denomination.
Best and Most Beautiful Things – Director: Garrett Zevgetis. (USA) 90 minutes
In a celebration of outcasts everywhere, a precocious young blind woman disappears into quirky obsessions and isolation. With humor and bold curiosity, she chases love and freedom in the most unexpected of places: a provocative fringe community.
Citizen Soldier – Directors: Christian Tureaud, David Salzberg. (Afghanistan/USA) World Premiere, 95 minutes
This is the story of the the Oklahoma 45th National Guard Brigade, better known as the “Thunderbirds.” …one day working a normal 9 to 5 job, the next day fighting America’s wars on the front lines, building global partnerships when asked, and protecting the homeland at all costs.
Driving with Selvi – Director: Elisa Paloschi. (Canada) 74 minutes
Selvi is a former child bride who escaped to become South India’s first female taxi driver. This is the journey of a charming, strong, and courageous young woman who defies all expectations, moving beyond the pain she’s experienced to create a new life.
Floyd Norman: An Animated Life – Directors: Erik Sharkey, Michael Fiore. (USA) 94 minutes
Animator. Storyman. Troublemaker. At 80 years old, see how this Disney Legend, the first African-American animator at Disney, continues to impact animation and stir up his own brand of “trouble.”
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise – Directors: Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack. (USA) 114 minutes
Iconic writer, poet, performer, and activist Maya Angelou overcame the Jim Crow South and devastating abuse to become one of our culture’s greatest voices. Rare footage and never-before-seen photos unveil a public and personal life that intersected with some of the most profound moments in recent American history.
Newtown – Director: Kim A Snyder. (USA) 83 minutes
This film traces the aftermath of the worst mass shooting of school children in American history. This is a portrait of traumatized community, weaving an intimate story of resilience and their new sense of purpose in the face of unimaginable loss.
Raising Bertie – Director: Margaret Byrne. (USA) 102 minutes
Through the intimate portrayal of three boys in Bertie County, NC, this starkly poetic film offers a rare in-depth look at the issues facing America’s rural youth and the complex relationships between generational poverty, educational equity, and race. The evocative result is an experience that encourages us to recognize the value and complexity in lives all too often ignored
She Started It – Directors: Nora Poggi, Insiyah Saeed. (USA) 84 minutes
Despite estimates that less than ten percent of all tech start-ups are founded by women, we follow five young women entrepreneurs who set out to build their own business in a male dominated field who will stop at nothing to pursue their dreams.
Tested – Director: Curtis Chin. (USA) 73 minutes
A diverse group of 8th graders in New York City vie for a coveted spot in one of the city’s elite public schools by taking a single standardized test.
The Founders – Directors: Charlie Fisk, Carrie Schrader. (USA) 88 minutes
In 1950, thirteen women defied convention and created the Ladies Professional Golf Association. They forged a path for future women athletes to be celebrated and taken seriously. Set against the timeless beauty of the golf course, the four remaining pioneers reminisce about the journey, the struggle and the game itself.
The Good Breast – Director: Bernadette Wegenstein. (USA/Italy) World Premiere, 95 minutes
Four women and their surgeon share their diverse and emotional journeys as they face the challenges of breast cancer. Their experiences reveal how the breast is far more than just an organ, but contains within it all the history, suffering, and power of female identity.
The Incomparable Rose Hartman – Director: Otis Mass. (USA) 71 minutes
With a career spanning decades, photographer Rose Hartman is known for her iconic photos from Studio 54, her boisterous personality and presence capturing the New York social scene. Her work will draw you in, the film will make you understand this force of nature.
The Three Hikers – Director: Natalie Avital. (USA) 97 minutes
In 2009, when three American hikers mistakenly wandered off the beaten path near Iraq’s poorly marked border with Iran, they quickly experienced the consequences of their error. This gripping chronicle of the ensuing two-year prison ordeal sheds new light on the delicate diplomacy behind the trio’s release.
Waiting for B – Directors: Abigail Spindel, Paulo Cesar Toledo. (Brazil) US Premiere, 71 minutes
In Sao Paulo, Brazil, a group of Beyoncé fans camped out for two months to be the first in line for her 2013 concert. This film is an intimate portrait of the fans and their day-to-day lives in camp and off.
A unique addition to this year’s films is a Work In Progress Screening. BFF will be screening one film by a filmmaker in the process of completing her film. This is an opportunity to collect feedback and workshop the film with a live audience.
Big Sonia – Directors: Leah Warshawski, Todd Soliday. (USA) 90 minutes
“National treasure”, local celebrity, Holocaust Survivor – Sonia (90) has just been served an eviction notice for the last shop left in a dying suburban mall. Following Sonia on the motivational speaker circuit, BIG SONIA explores what it means to be a survivor. Will you let your trauma define you? Or will your past make you stronger?
BFF multi-event passes are on sale now including package options ranging from entry level to premium. Single event tickets will go on sale week of April 11. Also look for ticket sales for Together, We Make the Music concert at the Walmart AMP on April 13 (link will post on the BFF website). Stay up to date on all things BFF at www.bentonvillefilmfestival.com or follow us at https://www.facebook.com/BFFfestival to learn more about events scheduled, multi- and single-event ticket passes, catch up on industry news and the great work going on with the BFF Foundation.
About Bentonville Film Festival (BFF): Co-founded by Academy Award Winner® Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and President and CEO of ARC Entertainment Trevor Drinkwater in 2015, The Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) is a commercial platform with a mission to champion women and diverse voices in media. BFF proactively supports content creation that inspires young minds to do great things. BFF is commercially focused and research based and is the only film competition in the world to guarantee theatrical, television, digital and retail home entertainment distribution for its winners in partnership with AMC Theaters, Walmart, Lifetime, Starz and VUDU. The Festival takes place during the first week of May in Bentonville, Arkansas.
About BFF Foundation: Bentonville Film Festival Foundation Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit organization focused on promoting women and diverse voice in the entertainment industry through research, education, mentoring and industry partnerships. The primary partner of the Foundation is the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
About Geena Davis and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media: Geena Davis is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, appearing in several roles that became cultural landmarks. In 1989, Davis received the Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actress in “The Accidental Tourist” and earned the 2006 Golden Globe Award® for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama, breaking ground in her portrayal of the first female President of the United States in ABC’s hit show “Commander in Chief.”
Davis is recognized for her tireless efforts on behalf of women and girls nearly as much as for her acting accomplishments. She is the Founder and Chair of the nonprofit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount St. Mary’s College, the only research-based organization working with media and entertainment companies to engage, educate and influence the need for gender balance by reducing stereotyping and creating a diverse and inclusive range of female characters for entertainment targeting children 11 and under.
Davis was recently appointed Special Envoy for Women and Girls in ICT for the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Davis is also an official partner of UN Women, working toward their goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women worldwide. Davis is the Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women.