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
Foundation 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.
Los Angeles (April 21, 2021)- 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 relationships 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.
Key board 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.