Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) has announced its 2021 program, and the Geena Davis-led event promises to be an inclusive celebration of talent on both sides of the camera. Seventy-one percent of titles screening in BFF’s juried competition program are directed by women, 75 percent are by people that are BIPOC or AAPI, and 33 percent are by people of the LGBTQIA+ community. Seventy percent of the films are written by women, 70 percent by people that are BIPOC or AAPI, and 32 percent by people of the LGBTQIA+ community. As for representation on-screen, 87 percent of the films feature a female lead, 81 percent a BIPOC or AAPI lead, and 30 percent an LGBTQIA+ lead. A press release confirmed the figures.
Set to take place August 2-8, this year’s edition of BFF will combine virtual and in-person activities. The fest will include a 30th anniversary drive-in screening of “Thelma & Louise.” The event will see Davis in conversation with the iconic buddy comedy’s screenwriter, Oscar nominee Callie Khouri.
“We are proud to offer audiences an inspirational line up celebrating diversity and inclusion on screen and behind the camera, to demonstrate the power of intersectional equity in entertainment media,” said Davis. She emphasized that the fest, whether attended virtually or in-person, will offer audiences the chance to see “stories that can change the world.”
Wendy Guerrero, President of Bentonville Film Festival and Foundation, added, “We are thrilled to come together in the heartland to share stories of inclusion at the 7th Annual BFF. The mission of the Festival has always been to create a platform that champions a multitude of new, diverse voices. The silver lining from last year’s 2020 virtual Festival was the unique opportunity to expand our capacity and thereby, our audiences, with more than 30,000 virtual attendees. The Festival is a welcome celebration of art and creativity, and is central to our mission of supporting filmmakers from diverse backgrounds. With exciting and fresh narratives from some of the most up-and-coming voices in film, this year’s competition lineup is one we can’t wait to share with Festival audiences.”
Titles set to screen in the Narrative Features program include Tracey Deer’s “Beans,” a coming-of-age drama about a Mohawk girl set during the 1990 Oka Crisis, and Anna Chi’s “The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu,” a multi-generational family story.
Jennifer Holness’ “Subjects of Desire” and Jena Burchick’s “Mom & M” are among the offerings in the Documentary Features lineup. The former is an exploration of race and power in the context of evolving beauty standards and the latter is portrait of a transgender writer, social media influencer, and their adopted daughter who is battling leukemia.
Check out more competition titles via BFF’s website.