ACADEMY AWARD® WINNER GEENA DAVIS’ BENTONVILLE FILM FESTIVAL WILL NOW BE PRODUCED AS AN ANNUAL PROGRAM OF THE NEWLY FORMED ARKANSAS BASED NON-PROFIT, BFFOUNDATION, WITH DAVIS SERVING AS FESTIVAL CHAIR
BFFoundation Appoints Independent Film Producer Kristin Mann as Head of Content The 7th Annual BFF Will Combine Virtual And Safe On-ground Activations to Produce a Hybrid Edition Set to Take Place August 3-8 in Bentonville, AR.
Academy Award® winner Geena Davis’ globally recognized Bentonville Film Festival (BFF), presented by Coca-Cola with founding sponsor Walmart will now be produced as an annual program of the BFFoundation, a 501c3 based in the state of Arkansas, led by a board of directors and operated by year-round and seasonal staff. Formerly operating under the Bentonville FIlm Festival LLC, the non-profit BFFoundation will continue to reflect the guiding mission of the festival: to create a deeper impact for racial and gender equality in all media. BFFoundation also includes an overarching commitment to grow and support the film industry within Arkansas.
“Our organization remains dedicated to championing the inclusion of underrepresented storytellers and content creators across the industry,” said Academy Award® winner Geena Davis. “We will continue to champion change by supporting work that reflects gender and racial equity on both sides of the camera — that allows for authentic representation of all forms of and sexual orientations, and amplifies the voices of females, LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and people with disabilities in entertainment and media,” said Davis.
“As Presenting Sponsor, we at Coca-Cola are excited to see BFF’s evolution from an annual festival to a year-round program. This change will greatly enhance BFF’s impact, both locally here in Arkansas as well as across the broader film industry. We
are proud to support BFF and help champion its mission of diversity, inclusion, and racial and gender equity,” said Louis Martin, President Global Walmart/Sam’s Club Customer Team.
Davis will serve as Chair of the Festival. Wendy Guerrero, who has served as President of Programming for BFF since the inaugural year in 2015, will now take on an additional leadership role as the President of the Festival and the BFFoundation—spearheading its year-round initiatives and inclusive programming. Additionally, independent film producer Kristin Mann has been brought on as head of content for the Bentonville Film
Foundation overseeing the new production arm. Mann will be responsible for the development and creation of films and television shows with a special focus on championing female and underrepresented voices on screen as well as behind the
camera. Mann will also serve on the advisory board for the BFFoundation.
“I’m honored to partner with the foundation and am excited to be a part of growing the festival, developing content, and helping build a sustainable film production ecosystem like this in my home state of Arkansas where I grew up dreaming of one day working in the film industry,” said Head of Content Kristin Mann. Keyboard members include Madeline DiNonno, CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media; Jason Netter, festival producer for BFF since 2016 and CEO of Kickstart Productions; along with other regional and industry stakeholders who will be joining during the coming year. Year-Round regional staff will include Ashley Edwards, Director of Programming; Tracie Flink, Controller; and Sativa Vela, Programmer, with additional team members onboarding as the festival kicks into gear.
The BFFoundation recently opened a new office space in the Market district of downtown Bentonville, Arkansas with close proximity to the region’s rapidly-growing arts and culture ecosystem. Public office hours will be held leading up to the festival in August to support community engagement. The 7th annual BFF will take place as a hybrid edition with virtual and safe on-ground activations in Bentonville, AR, and the surrounding areas, August 3-8, 2021. Film screenings, panels, filmmaker events, and industry engagements will take place virtually and be accessible globally.
Responding out of caution to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film festival shifted to a hybrid platform in 2020 and rescheduled its dates to August. In 2020, over 30,000 active viewers engaged during the week of the virtual Bentonville Film Festival which had the most diverse and inclusive film program to date. More than 80% of the films showcased were directed by women (including three of the four Spotlight selections), with 65% from BIPOC and 45% from LGBTQIA+ filmmakers.
I got to attend the Bentonville Film Festival Virtual Press Conference with Academy Award Winning Actress Geena Davis.
Tammy: For a Black woman who is a first-time filmmaker and their film will be showcased at the BFF for the first time, how do you want the experience to impact them professionally?
Geena: Thank you, that’s a great question! The experience of filmmakers is of prime importance to us. We want to make sure that they feel valued and appreciated. We definitely always want them to come back again, a number of filmmakers have.
We put a lot of special focus on them. We have a special filmmakers retreat which is a very popular event. We’re very happy with the responses that we get from a lot of filmmakers about how different their experience was coming to our festival.
About The Bentonville Film Foundation
BFFoundation is a non-profit organization focused on promoting underrepresented voices of diverse storytellers. Amplifying storytellers who identify as female, non-binary, LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and people with disabilities in entertainment and media.
BFFoundation does this through research, education, and supporting the production and distribution of inclusive content. BFFoundation is focused on working with its partners to foster inclusivity in media and entertainment to produce a positive influence in the community at large. BFFoundation produces the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF), chaired by Academy Award® winner Geena Davis.
About The Bentonville Film Festival
Chaired by Academy Award® winner Geena Davis’ the Bentonville Film Festival is a one-of-a-kind annual event that champions inclusion in all forms of media. BFF is a year-long platform with the BFFoundation, culminating with a six-day festival, in partnership with the founding sponsor, Walmart, and presenting sponsor, Coca-Cola. The Bentonville Film Festival is held annually in Bentonville, Arkansas
For more information please visit https://bentonvillefilm.org/