Bentonville Film Festival returns to NWA May 8-11

Bentonville Film Festival / Courtesy

The Bentonville Film Festival will return to Northwest Arkansas for its fifth year this spring.

The annual event, founded by actor Geena Davis with the stated mission to help champion women and diversity in film, is set for May 8-11 at various locations around town.

As always, this year’s event will include a host of star-studded feature films, documentaries, shorts, and panel discussions, as well as live music, celebrity events, and more.

The event will kick off at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 8 with a screening of Solace, a film in this year’s narrative competition at Skylight Cinema, located at 350 SW A Street in downtown Bentonville.

After that, the four-day event will feature screenings of 15 competition narrative films, 14 competition documentaries, 23 competition shorts, 4 competition episodics, showcase screenings of top festival films, anniversary screenings of classics, outdoor screenings of family-focused and animated films, and more playing at locations all over the city.

“This year’s lineup of films truly exemplifies our mission and we are thrilled to highlight the work of female filmmakers, people of color, LGBTQ+, filmmakers and talent with disabilities, etc. – everyone,” said BFF co-founder Geena Davis. “Connecting those filmmakers with audiences, providing a platform for them to tell their stories, and offering opportunities for each one of us to see a reflection of ourselves onscreen is such an essential step to help them build their careers and ensure that we all can enrich ourselves with entertainment options that match the diversity we see in our day-to-day lives.”

Some of the highlights include a screening of Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché , a film narrated by Jodie Foster (Narrator) and featuring Evan Rachel Wood, Peter Farrelly, and others that tells the story of the first female filmmaker, who was also one of the first filmmakers to create a narrative film.

Another spotlight film to be screened is Brian Banks, starring Aldis Hodge, Greg Kinnear, Sherri Shepherd, and others, that tells the story of the USC football commit who finds his life upended when he is wrongly convicted of a crime he didn’t commit.

Four films with Arkansas connections will be screened at the festival, including Saint Frances, featuring writer/actor, and AR native, Kelly O’Sullivan in the lead role; Well Groomed, a film featuring Arkansas-based, champion dog groomer Angela Kumpe; and To the Stars and Sweet Inspirations, two films involving Fayetteville-based studio Rockhill Studios. Sweet Inspirations, in fact, stars a host of local talent, and was filmed almost entirely in Fayetteville.

Panel discussions / Courtesy

In addition to the film screenings, the event will also feature panel discussions, free family-oriented community film screenings at Lawrence Park, bike tours and demos led by world championship female cyclists Anneke Beerten, Caroline Buchanan, Lael Wilcox, and more.

The 2019 list of panel participants will include BFF Co-Founder and Chair Geena Davis as well as Jason George, Samantha Mathis, RJ Mitte, Jackie Cruz, Gabrielle Carteris, Miranda Bailey, Trudie Styler, Rachel Harris, Jeanine Mason, Frankie Grande, Kara Hayward, and Rita Ortiz.

There will also be a fashion showcase, followed by discussion of fashion in film, as The Arkansas Fashion Council and BFF present “Breakthroughs: A Fashion Event Celebrating Women of Color,” at 3 p.m. Thursday, May 9, at the Meteor Guitar Galley in Bentonville.

All of the festivities of the event will work toward the festivals goal of celebrating diversity and “championing inclusion in all types of media.”

Venues for the festival include Skylight Cinema, The Record, 21c Hotel, The Walmart World Room, and Lawrence Plaza.

Ticket bundles, festival passes, and tickets to individual events are on sale now at Prices range from free, to $120 for a bundle of events, to $275 for a weekly pass. “Patron Badges” ($775) and “Foundation Badges” ($1575) are also on sale, and come with tickets to various events and other perks.

A full list of films to be screened at this year’s festival is available here, and you can find the full schedule of events here.

To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit

This article is sponsored by First Security Bank. For more great stories of Arkansas food, travel, sports, music and more, visit