Second annual Bentonville Film Festival set for May 3-8

A Walmart-sponsored film festival intended to “champion women and diversity in film” will return to the Natural State for a second year in 2016.

The Bentonville Film Festival, founded by actor Geena Davis and businessman Trevor Drinkwater last year, is set for May 3-8, 2016 at various locations around Bentonville.

Organizers say that more than 37,000 people attended the inaugural event, but Davis said she expects the festival to come into its own in its second year.

Event poster

“The inaugural event came together very quickly which did not allow us to execute on many of the great ideas to enhance the commercial viability of the platform,” she said. “This year will showcase some amazing and powerful initiatives to champion women and diverse voices in media.”

This year’s event will include 34 films in competition, including 16 documentaries and 18 narrative films, as well as new short film competition.

There isn’t a dedicated movie theatre in Bentonville, so most of the film screenings will take place in three mobile theaters around the square, each with a capacity of 91 people. Other film screening venues include Old High Auditorium, Bentonville Public Library, and 21C Hotel.

In addition, the festival will include several panels with industry executives and celebrities, special events, and other activities.

Also as part of the festivities this year is a concert featuring country artists Darius Rucker and Cassadee Pope, along with Fayetteville resident and The Voice Season 9 Top Three Finalist Barrett Baber at the Walmart AMP on May 4.

Local venue Meteor Music Lounge will also include a lineup of “nationally recognized and local musicians” each evening during the festival.

A schedule of special events associated with the event is below, as well as descriptions of several of the films set to be screened at the festival.

A full, detailed schedule of events is available at You can also download their new mobile app that includes schedules, maps, and other features.

Single-event tickets start at $10, and are on sale at

Special event schedule

Together, We Make the Music
What: Concert – Darius Rucker, Cassadee Pope, Barrett Baber
When: Wednesday, May 4
Where: Walmart Amp
Tickets: $34.50-$60.50, on sale at

Girls that Grill Competition
What: Barbecue competition
When: Friday, May 6, 4 p.m.
Where: Bentonville Square
Description: BFF offers a full day of free community activity at the Bentonville Square starting with a ‘Girls That Grill’ competition. Stop by to see the competition heat up at 4 p.m. and to see who is crowned the queen of ‘cue at the awards ceremony on the main stage at 5 p.m. In addition, the competitors will be showcasing their grill skills with demonstrations and free samples from 12 – 2 p.m. along with music, games and activities for the entire family to enjoy throughout the day.
Admission: Free

First Friday Family Films
What: Screening of Stuart Little
When: Friday, May 6, 7 p.m.
Where: First Baptist Church Bentonville
Admission: Free

Outdoor screening of the original Ghostbusters film
When: Friday, May 6, dusk
Where: Outside 21 C Hotel
Admission: Free

League of Their Own Ball Game and KidsFest
What: Baseball game featuring national and local celebrities
When: Sunday, May 8, 12 p.m.
Where: Arvest Ballpark, Springdale
Description: BFF will host a repeat of last year’s popular ‘A League Of Their Own’ ball game at Arvest Ballpark, featuring national and local celebrities. The game will be held on Sunday May 8th with gates opening at noon to kick of the BFF KidsFest activities and the first pitch will be thrown at 2 p.m.
Tickets: To be available at a later date at, or in person at the box office.

Film roster – Narrative

Film descriptions provided by Bentonville Film Festival

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion (USA/Bulgaria) World Premiere, 100 minutes
Director: Castille Landon
Screenwriters: Castille Landon, Ryan O’Nan, Sarah Scougal.
Cast: John Cleese, Debra Messing, Jennifer Morrison, Stephen Dorff, Richard Kind, Liam McIntyre, Daniel Sharman, Ryan O’Nan, Castille Landon and Avery Rath
Description: 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.

American Fable (USA), 96 minutes
Director/Screenwriter: Anne Hamilton.
Cast: Richard Schiff, Peyton Kennedy, Kip Pardu, Marci Miller, Rusty Schwimmer, Gavin MacIntosh, Zuleikha Robinson
Description: 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.

Comfort (USA), 105 minutes
Director/Screenwriter: William Lu
Cast: Christopher Dinh, Julie Zhan, Kelvin Han Yee, Billy Sly Williams
Description: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.

Embers (USA/Poland), 86 minutes
Director: Claire Carre’
Screenwriter: Charles Spano, Claire Carre’.
Cast: Jason Ritter, Iva Gocheva, Greta Fernandez, Tucker Smallwood, Karl Glusman
Description: After a global neurological epidemic, those who remain search for meaning and connection in a world without memory.

Fair Market Value (USA) World Premiere, 99 minutes
Director: Kevin Arbouet
Story: Judy San Roman
Screenwriter: Kevin Arbouet
Cast: Luisana Lopilato, Craig Bierko, Royce Johnson, Julia Duffy, Drew Meorlein, Jerry Adler, Wendy Makkena, Debra Jo Rupp, Tina Benko, Gene Gabriel, Olga Merediz
Description: 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.

Five Nights in Maine (USA), 82 minutes
Director/Screenwriter: Maris Curran
Cast: David Oyelowo, Dianne Wiest, Rosie Perez, Teyonah Parris, Hani Furstenberg
Description: 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.

Good Enough (USA), 80 minutes
Director/Screenwriter: AnnaRose King
Cast: AnnaRose King, Ted Tremper, James Caan, Delaney Williams, Ilana Becker, Todd Bartels, Becky Yamamoto, Max Loeb, Sofiya Akilova , Peter Moore
Description: 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.

It Had to Be You (USA/Italy), 83 minutes
Director/Screenwriter: Sasha Gordon
Cast: Cristin Milioti, Dan Soder, Halley Pfeiffer, Mark Gessner, Kyle Mooney
Description: 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.

Josephine (USA), 80 minutes
Director: Rory Feek
Screenwriter: Rory Feek and Aaron Carnahan
Cast: Boris McGiver, Alice Coulthard, Jessejames Locorriere
Description: 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.

Kid Witness (USA) World Premiere, 94 minutes
Director/Screenwriter: Kevin Kaufman
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Ripley Sobo, Lev Gorn
Description: 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.

Lost & Found (USA), 90 minutes
Director: Joseph Itaya
Screenwriters: Joseph Itaya, Erik Cardona
Cast: Justin Kelly, Benjamin Stockham, Céleste Desjardins, with Cary Elwes, and Jason Patric
Description: 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.

Operator (USA), 90 minutes
Director: Logan Kibens
Screenwriters: Sharon Greene, Logan Kibens
Cast: Martin Starr, Mae Whitman, Nat Faxon, Cameron Esposito, Retta, Christine Lahti
Description: 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.

Running Wild (USA) World Premiere, 98 minutes
Director: Alex Ranarivelo
Screenwriters: Christina Moore & Brian Rudnick
Cast: Sharon Stone, Tommy Flanagan, Jason Lewis, Dorian Brown & Tom Williamson
Description: 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.

Saved By Grace (USA) World Premiere, 85 minutes
Director: Johnny Remo
Screenwriters: Ken Lemm, Lance Bachelder, Johnny Remo
Cast: Joey Lawrence, Catalina Rodriguez, Muse Watson, Christopher Michael
Description: 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.

Swing Away (Greece/USA) World Premiere, 98 minutes
Director: Michael Achilles Nickles
Screenwriters: Paul Robert Lingas, Julia Wall Nickles .
Cast: Shannon Elizabeth, John O’Hurley, Manos Gavras, Renos Haralambidis, Karl Theobald, Alexandros Mylonas, Olga Damani, Christos Sougaris, Viktoria Miller
Description: 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

Te Ata (USA) World Premiere, 105 minutes
Director: Nathan Frankowski
Screenwriters: Esther Luttrell, Jeannie Barbour
Cast: Q’orianka Kilcher, Graham Greene, Gil Birmingham, Mackenzie Astin, Brigid Brannagh, Cindy Pickett
Description: 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.

The Mad Ones (USA) World Premiere, 92 minutes
Director/Screenwriter: Aniruddh Pandit
Cast: Anthony Gioe, Dana DeLorenzo, Lavrenti Lopes
Description: 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.

Wild Prairie Rose (USA) World Premiere, 90 minutes
Director: Deborah LaVine
Screenwriter: Sharon Greene
Cast: Tara Samuel, Troy Kotsur, Suanne Spoke, Courtney Jones
Description: 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.

Film roster – Documentary

A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers (USA/Pakistan) 90 minutes
Directors: Geeta Gandbhir, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy.
Description: 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 (USA) 86 minutes
Director: Scott Sheppard.
Description: 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 (USA) 90 minutes
Director: Garrett Zevgetis.
Description: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 (Afghanistan/USA) World Premiere, 95 minutes
Directors: Christian Tureaud, David Salzberg.
Description: 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 (Canada) 74 minutes
Director: Elisa Paloschi.
Description: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 (USA) 94 minutes
Directors: Erik Sharkey, Michael Fiore.
Description: 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 (USA) 114 minutes
Directors: Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack.
Description: 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 (USA) 83 minutes
Director: Kim A Snyder.
Description: 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 (USA) 102 minutes
Director: Margaret Byrne.
Description: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 (USA) 84 minutes
Directors: Nora Poggi, Insiyah Saeed.
Description: 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 (USA) 73 minutes
Director: Curtis Chin.
Description: 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 (USA) 88 minutes
Directors: Charlie Fisk, Carrie Schrader.
Description: 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 (USA/Italy) World Premiere, 95 minutes
Director: Bernadette Wegenstein.
Description: 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 (USA) 71 minutes
Director: Otis Mass.
Description: 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
(USA) 97 minutes
Director: Natalie Avital
Description: 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 (Brazil) US Premiere, 71 minutes
Directors: Abigail Spindel, Paulo Cesar Toledo.
Description: 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.

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