Geena Davis and Wendy Guerrero Preview the 2021 Bentonville Film Festival, Running August 3-8 | Festivals & Awards

“The 2020 festival was the most diverse program we ever had, with over 70 films programmed,” noted Davis. “80% of the films were directed by women, 65% by people of color and 45% LGBTQIA+. In 2021, as Wendy said, we’re leaning even further into our initiatives and core mission, and our biggest takeaway last year was that creating a film festival with this level of equity compromised absolutely nothing. In fact, it showcased the tremendous talents and abilities of many, many underrepresented storytellers that make up the fabric of our communities here in the US and around the world.”

BFF stated its commitment to following the CDC and state guidelines for public events in its planning process for August’s festival, which will include drive-in films, outdoor films and public family friendly events in downtown Bentonville. Competition filmmakers will be invited to participate in events such as a happy hour, luncheon and the award show, while film programs, panels and filmmaker talks will continue to be made available on the festival’s virtual platform. Perhaps one of the most intriguing annual events, which will be made streamable this year, is “Geena and Friends,” where Davis invites fellow celebrity guests to read from a famous script while swapping gender roles.

“A lot of times we’ve picked comedies, but it’s funny no matter what the genre of the film is to realize how it could actually obviously work with women instead,” said Davis. “This has been my message to the studios and the industry for many years: don’t make a movie or cast a movie without first passing it through a gender lens. Go through it and see which characters could be either male and female. Bring in male and female actors to audition for each part. We do this as a fun way to show that there is a lot more possibility in your casting than what first sprang to the writer’s mind, and so we hope that that’s making a change in the industry.”

For more information, visit the official site of the Bentonville Film Festival.

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