Narrative, Documentary, Short and Episodic Film Competition April 2 to April 8
Bentonville, Arkansas – This year’s fest combines virtual and safe in-person activations, including premieres, conversations, awards, and events to produce a hybrid experience for attendees. Festival passes and single tickets are on sale now.
This year attendees will enjoy a 30th anniversary screening of Thelma & Louise at the 112 Drive-In (Fayetteville, Arkansas) Tuesday, August 3, followed by an exclusive conversation with the film’s star and Festival Chair, Academy Award® winner Geena Davis and Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Callie Khouri.
The film, which first premiered in 1991, is an empowering tribute to trailblazing women. Davis’ (Thelma) and Susan Sarandon’s (Louise) iconic strong female lead performances cemented the revolutionary film as a feminist classic that still resonates today.
“We are proud to offer audiences an inspirational lineup celebrating diversity and inclusion on screen and behind the camera, to demonstrate the power of intersectional equity in entertainment media,” said Davis, Bentonville Film Festival Chair. “Through our unique inclusion qualifiers, we are giving voice to directors who are 71 percent female, 75 percent BIPOC or AAPI and 33 percent LGBTQIA+.”
“We were excited last year to see our audience grow globally as a result of our virtual component. Come to our Festival this year, in person or virtually, and be transported into stories that can change the world,” said Davis.
“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,” said Wendy Guerrero, President of Bentonville Film Festival and Foundation.
“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,” said Guerrero.
The Bentonville Film Festival is an annual event and globally recognized platform that aims to amplify female, non-binary, LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and people with disabilities’ voices in entertainment. The week-long Festival, presented by the Bentonville Film Foundation, in partnership with founding sponsor Walmart and presenting sponsor Coca-Cola, is known for its dedication to championing marginalized and underrepresented voices in film with 65 percent of the competition titles directed by women.
In the BFF 2021 juried competition program, 71 percent are directed by women, 75 percent by people that are BIPOC or AAPI, and 33 percent by people of the LGBTQIA+ community. Seventy percent of these films are written by women, 70 percent by people that are BIPOC or AAPI, 32 percent by people of the LGBTQIA+ community and 87 percent feature a female lead, 81 percent a BIPOC or AAPI lead, and 30 prcent an LGBTQIA+ lead.
Ninety-six percent of these films have a cast and crew that was made up of more than half of people from these same communities. The Festival’s director of programming, Ashley Edwards, and film curator, Drea Clark, led program selections for this year’s competition lineup.
In 2020, the Bentonville Film Festival’s hybrid virtual program saw more than 30,000 attendees over the course of the Festival. More Festival programming announcements are forthcoming, including special events, panels and jury. Passes and tickets for the 2021 Bentonville Film Festival can be purchased here.
The Following Projects Are Confirmed for the 2021 Bentonville Film Festival Competition
7 DAYS, U.S.A. (Director/Writer: Roshan Sethi) Ravi is set up on an arranged marriage date with Rita by their traditional Indian parents. When the circumstances of quarantine force them to shelter together, Ravi discovers that Rita is not quite the traditional girl of his dreams.
Cast: Mark Duplass, Geraldine Viswanathan, Aparna Nancherla, Karan Soni
AMERICANISH, U.S.A (Director: Iman Zawahry, Writers: Aizzah Fatima, Iman Zawahry) In Jackson Heights, Queens two sisters and their fresh off the boat cousin try all the conventional ways to earn the love and respect of the matriarch of their family only to learn that life works out in the most unconventional ways.
Cast: Aizzah Fatima, Salena Qureshi, Shenaz Treasurey, Mohammed Amer, Kapil Talwalker, Godfrey, Ajay Naidu, David Rasche
BEANS, CA (Director: Tracey Deer, Writers: Tracey Deer, Meredith Vuchnich) BEANS is a 2020 Canadian drama film that explores the 1990 Oka Crisis at Kanesatake, which Deer lived through as a child, through the eyes of Tekehentahkhwa, a young Mohawk girl whose perspective on life is radically changed by these events.
Cast: Kiawentiio, Violah Beauvais, Rainbow Dickerson, Joel Montgrand, Paulina Alexis, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, and Jay Cardinal Villeneuve
CATCH THE FAIR ONE, U.S.A. (Director/Writer: Josef Kubota Wladyka) A former boxer embarks on the fight of her life when she goes in search of her missing sister.
Cast: Kali Reis, Daniel Henshall, Tiffany Chu, Michael Drayer, Lisa Emery, Kimberly Guerrero, Kevin Dunn
THE DAPHNE PROJECT, U.S.A. (Directors/Writers: Alec Tibaldi, Zora Iman Crews) Daphne Wilco, actress and social justice warrior, wreaks havoc on a production of Euripides’ “The Bacchae” in the name of progress — her progress.
Cast: Zora Iman Crews, April Lavalle, Jake Horowitz
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MRS. WU, U.S.A. (Director: Anna Chi, Writers: Donald Martin, Anna Chi, Ella Lee) Aware that her time is running short, irascible Wu family matriarch Lily (Lisa Lu) is eager to repair the strained relationship with her adult daughter Mary (Michelle Krusiec) and help her shy 18-year-old granddaughter Emma (Rochelle Ying) find her voice. As her final wish, she persuades longtime friend Charlotte (Joely Fisher), Emma and Emma’s best friend Karen (Tiffany Wu) to spring her from her L.A. nursing home and take a wild road trip up the California coast to a special place from her past.
Along the way, long-held secrets are revealed and Mary and Emma each come to understand the painful choices their mothers made in this funny and touching multi-generational story about family, forgiveness and being true to oneself. World Premiere
Cast: Lisa Lu, Michelle Krusiec, Jiani “Rochelle” Ying, Adrian Pasdar, Joely Fisher, Karen Chan and Da’Vinchi
I’M FINE (THANKS FOR ASKING), U.S.A. (Directors: Kelley Kali, Angelique Molina, Writers: Kelley Kali, Angelique Molina, Roma Kong) In this exhilarating, poignant debut feature, Danny (played by co-director Kelley Kali in a star-making performance), a recently widowed woman barely makes ends meet by braiding hair and making deliveries on roller skates. Having convinced her 8 year old daughter they are ‘camping out’ in a tent for fun (in a nod to “Life is Beautiful”) she manages to save enough money for a downpayment on a new apartment. When a client is unable to pay her, she realizes that if she can’t raise $200 by day’s end she will lose the apartment and have to admit to her daughter that they are actually “houseless”. What follows is an intense, manic and frayed day until the final reckoning. In a world where we need more underrepresented voices telling their own stories, this movie hits the mark. Equal turns funny and heart wrenching, this is a soaring, urgent achievement that announces the co-directors, co-writers, and leading cast as major forces in a work that will have audiences cheering.
Cast: Kelley Kali, Wesley Moss, Deon Cole, BK Marie
LUDI, U.S.A. (Director: Edson Jean, Writers: Edson Jean, Joshua Jean-Baptiste)
Ludi, a hardworking and exhausted nurse, battles coworkers, clients and one impatient bus driver to learn her self worth as she chases the American Dream in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood.
Cast: Shein Mompremier, Alan Myles Heyman, Madelin Marchant, Success St. Fleur Jr., Kerline Alce, Plus Pierre and Patrice DeGraff-Arenas
THE NOVICE, U.S.A. (Director/Writer: Lauren Hadaway) A college freshman joins her university’s cutthroat rowing team, and undertakes an obsessive journey to make the top varsity boat, no matter the cost.
Cast: Isabelle Fuhrman, Amy Forsyth, Dilone, Kate Drummond, Jonathan Cherry, Charlotte Ubben, Nikki Duval
SEE YOU THEN, U.S.A. (Director: Mari Walker) Kris, a transgender computer programmer, and Naomi, an Asian-American performance artist, used to date in college. They haven’t seen each other for 15 years, since Kris left town without a word. Over the course of a one night encounter, they engage in a series of increasingly intimate and revealing conversations, before a revelation sends everything spiraling out of control. See You Then focuses on the universal truth that no matter how much you change, a part of you will always stay the same.
Cast: Pooya Mohseni, Lynn Chen
WAIKIKI, U.S.A. (Director/Writer: Christopher Kahunahana) When a Native Hawaiian hula dancer escaping her abusive boyfriend crashes her beat-up van into a mysterious homeless man, she finds herself flung into a surrealistic journey of self-exploration and enlightenment. Director Christopher Kahunahana’s eagerly awaited feature debut breaks down the enduring, stereotypical image of paradise we have of Waikiki to reveal a vulnerable and authentic portrait of indigeneity. Leaving behind the touristic image of paradise and island culture, WAIKĪKĪ tackles the often-unspeakable generational trauma of postcolonial cultures through a mixing of genre conventions, experimental storytelling, and perspectives.
Cast: Danielle Zalopany, Peter Shinkoda
WOMEN IS LOSERS, U.S.A. (Director/Writer: Lissette Feliciano) Inspired by real women and the Janis Joplin song of the same title, Women Is Losers is a dramedy that follows the life of a young single mother whose refusal to let herself and her newborn son sink into poverty puts her at odds with pre-Roe v. Wade America.
Cast: Lorenza Izzo, Bryan Craig, Chrissie Fit, Simu Liu, Steven Bauer
ALL THESE SONS, U.S.A. (Directors: Bing Liu, Joshua Altman) In the summer of 2020, Chicago experienced the worst rates of gun violence in nearly 20 years. While city leadership has responded with aggressive and racist policing, a collection of anti-violence organizations has fought for change within the neighborhoods most impacted. Beginning in 2018, we follow Marshall Hatch Jr. from the West Side and Billy Moore from the South Side as they work directly with young men from the community to not only end this cycle of death but to end it by undoing generations of oppression leading all the way back to the American slave trade. As Marshall puts it, at stake is the very soul of the nation.
AT THE READY, U.S.A. (Director: Maisie Crow) Ten miles from the Mexican border, the students at Horizon High School in El Paso (many of whom are Latinx) train to become police officers and Border Patrol agents. As they discover the realities of their dream jobs may be at odds with the truths and people they hold most dear, we learn the price they must pay as they grapple with their place within their communities at the intersection of identity, immigration, and personal politics.
CRUTCH, U.S.A. (Directors: Chandler Evans, Sachi Cunningham)
Crutch chronicles the life of Bill Shannon, an internationally renowned artist, breakdancer and skateboarder on crutches, as he finds his voice and uses his performance art to expose the secret world of assumptions that exists all around us.
A FIRE WITHIN, U.S.A. (Director: Christopher Chambers) A Fire Within chronicles the incredible, true story of three Women who are immigrants from Ethiopia and torture survivors, who one day discover that their torturer is in the U.S…working at a hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. It is a thrilling story about three immigrants, three refugees, three survivors taking a stand to make their voices heard and their courageous fight to bring a notorious torturer from Africa to justice — right here in America.
KILI BIG, U.S.A (Director: Ida Joglar) A group of plus-sized women from around the world attempt to climb the tallest peak in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. World Premiere
MOM & M, U.S.A. (Director: Jena Burchick) Mom & M is an intimate portrait of modern American parenthood. Meet Nikki, a transgender writer; Elise, a social media influencer; and Sansa, their adopted daughter who battles leukemia. Together they navigate what happens when your partner comes out as transgender while caring for an ill child and that remission is not the end to life’s challenges. The Richard family offers a deep-seated glimpse of love’s power in surviving extraordinary circumstances.
SUBJECTS OF DESIRE, U.S.A. (Director: Jennifer Holness) Subjects of Desire explores the cultural shift in North American beauty standards towards embracing Black female aesthetics and features while exposing the deliberate and often dangerous portrayals of Black women in the media. Told from the POV of women who aren’t afraid to challenge conventional beauty standards, the film is partially set at the 50th Anniversary of the Miss Black America Pageant, a beauty pageant that was created as a political protest. SUBJECTS OF DESIRE is a culturally significant, provocative film that deconstructs what we understand about race and the power behind beauty.
TRY HARDER!, U.S.A. (Director: Debbie Lum) At the top public high school in San Francisco — with a majority Asian American student body — the seniors are stressed out. Students are keenly aware of the intense competition for the few open spots in their dream colleges. With humor and heart, Try Harder takes us to the reality of the American college application process and the intersection of class, race, and educational opportunity as they navigate a quintessential rite of passage and make it their own.
UPROOTED: THE HISTORY OF JAZZ DANCE, U.S.A. (Director: Khadifa Wong) The history, lineage and future progressions of jazz dance. The story of Jazz Dance is a complex one, it goes to the very heart of humanity.It is a story of triumph over adversity, oppression and privilege as well as a celebration, because ultimately, what all people have in common is rhythm and a basic human need to get down.
WORKHORSE QUEEN, U.S.A. (Director: Angela Washko) By day, Ed Popil worked as the manager of a telemarketing center in post-industrial Rochester, New York for 18 years. By night, he transformed into drag queen Mrs. Kasha Davis. Not your average aspiring pop star drag queen, Mrs. Kasha Davis is a 1960’s era housewife trying to liberate herself from domestic toil through performing at night in secret – an homage to Ed’s own mother.
After seven years of auditioning to compete on reality television show RuPaul’s Drag Race, Ed Popil was finally cast onto the show and thrust into a full time entertainment career at the late age of 44. Workhorse Queen explores the complexities of mainstream television’s impact on queer performance culture. In addition to following Ed’s life and career before and after being cast onto RuPaul’s Drag Race, the film focuses on the growing divide between members of a small town drag community – those who have been on television, and those who have not.
Throughout the film, Ed Popil navigates the exciting highs and devastating lows of pursuing the fame promised by a reality television platform. With one foot inching toward Hollywood’s doorstep and the other cemented firmly within her beloved Rochester community, Mrs. Kasha Davis finds a surprising new audience at home as she works toward becoming the queer role model for children that Ed didn’t have and desperately wanted growing up.
YOUTH V GOV, U.S.A. (Director: Christi Cooper) A story of global importance that has already inspired numerous legal actions around the world, Youth V Gov is the story of America’s youngest citizens taking on the world’s most powerful government. Twenty-one courageous youth lead a groundbreaking lawsuit against the U.S. government, asserting it has willfully acted over six decades to create our climate crisis, thus endangering their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. If these young people are successful, they’ll not only make history, they’ll change the future.
#WHITINA, (Director/Writer: J.Sean Smith)
Inspired by coming of age cult classics, #WHITINA is a film about exploring the crossroads of the inner and outer struggles of being Mexican-American against the backdrop of a social media obsessed society. High School cheerleader and whitina (white acting Latina) Genesis Valdez is forced to go on the run with her two former best friends (Bella and Chris) after a confrontation with undercover I.C.E. Agents. The altercation is filmed by two middle schoolers and the group goes #viral. While on the run Chris reveals he is a dreamer and could get deported. Genesis makes a decision to help Chris escape and learns what it really means to be “down for La Raza.”
Cast: Xolo Maridueña, Inde Navarrette, Keyla Mejia
AMERICANIZED, (Director/Writer: Erica Eng)
Growing up in Oakland’s hip-hop culture, Eng struggles with her Chinese American identity. To her high school basketball team, she’s just that girl who sits on the bench; but to the Asian kids she’s “Americanized.” As her sophomore year of high school comes to an end, Eng tries to find a sense of belonging within the two worlds that don’t accept her.
Cast: Terry Hu, Amber Gaston, Helen Ong, Charles Yan, Shannon Dang, Sharar Ali-Speaks Mark A. Neely
BIG TOUCH, (Director/Writer: Christopher Tenzis)
An Afro-Surrealist story about a giant woman and a tiny man who through the power of touch, experience an unexpected transformation.
Cast: Raymond Ejiofor, Arabella Frost, Carly Stewart, Astra Marie Varnado
BJ’S MOBILE GIFT SHOP, (Director/Writer: Jason Park)
A young Korean-American hustler runs throughout the city of Chicago making sales out of his “mobile gift shop”.
Cast: Johnnyboy Tellem, Soonshim Shin, Gwangwee Jung
BUG FARM, (Director: Lydia Cornett)
In this documentary short, four distinct women in Central Florida bond over working with crickets, superworms, and roaches on an insect farm in the small town of LaBelle.
CRACKED, (Director/Writer: Lin Que Ayoung)
It’s the end of the summer of 1985 in Queens, New York City. Toya, a feisty young girl, falls in love for the first time. After a series of disturbing events, Toya’s affection for Poochy compels her to face her traumatic past.
Cast: Tatum Marilyn Hall, Meliki Hurd, Kizzmett Pringle, Dwayne Grant, Paris Crayton III
DREAMER, (Directors: Vergi Rodriguez, Diana Zollicoffer, Writer: Vergi Rodriguez)
Lily Cruz, a DACA recipient, travels on a medical volunteer mission and upon returning to the USA a TSA agent isn’t so welcoming.
Cast: Vergi Rodriguez, Linden Waddell, Rafael Noble, Avery Waddell, Jared Bell
EL TRISTE, (Director/Writer: Manuel Del Valle)
A Drama that takes place on the backstage of a marionette show.
This short film follows “El Triste”, an old used ragdoll-like marionette, and his journey of self-acceptance and discovery as he decides to do all it takes to prove to himself and his fellow puppets that he is valuable and worthy of admiration.
Cast: Matt Scott, Cain Carian
FIRST DOWN, (Director: Carrie Stett, Writer: Brian Loschiavo)
A group of teenage girls who find a way out though America’s favorite sport…for men. World Premiere
I AM NORMAL, (Director: Olia Oparina, Writer: Anya Bay)
A sane woman fakes the symptoms of a mentally unstable patient in order to be admitted into a mental institution for a secret psychiatric experiment. Inspired by the Rosenhan Experiment of 1973.
Cast: Nora-Jane Noone, Saul Rubinek, Susan Moore Harmon, Anya Bay
I’M A VAMPIRE, (Director/Writer: Sofia Garza-Barba)
In and amongst the confusion created by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, 8 year-old Jackie believes she is turning into a vampire. As her suspicion is reinforced by her parents’ bewildering behavior, the imaginative girl creates her own plan to survive the confinement.
Cast: Elisa Garza T, Lucy Vico, David Angulo
I WAS A STRANGER, (Director: Reiko Aylesworth, Writer: April E. Brassard)
A woman fleeing domestic violence finds refuge on the road in a community of boondockers. They have an esoteric awareness of the terms of her exile—everyone here is running from something. When her cruel captor tracks her down, these strangers become unceasing allies, no matter the cost. Inspired by true events. World Premiere
Cast: Elizabeth Rodriguez, Jason Butler Harner, James Badge Dale, Bernard Addison, Carlease Burke
KOREATOWN GHOST STORY, (Directors/Writers: Minsun Park, Teddy Tenenbaum)
In this supernatural horror tale based on a Korean ritual starring Margaret Cho and Lyrica Okano, a woman entertains a macabre offer that would let her pursue her dreams, for better or for much much worse.
Cast: Margaret Cho and Lyrica Okano
MABROOK, (Director/Writer: Asad Farooqui)
Amir is a struggling actor, meddling with lowly, wordless terrorist roles. More importantly, he struggles with his parents not taking his career choice seriously. Amidst the party chaos highlighted by politics, cricket, and community gossip, a revelation brings Amir a new challenge—just making it through the day.
Cast: Asad Farooqui, Manahar Kumar, Nasim, Rajiv Vora, Navin Gurnaney, Rabinder Campbell, Farah Toor, Annam Rizwan
MESSAGE READ, (Director: Spencer Glover, Writer: Kariss Forte)
In the afterlife material possessions cease to exist. For those who can’t let go, there’s one stop before that final resting place and it’s called Firth. Message Read tells the story of a father who desperately misses his son and must decide between moving on to finality or spending another eternity stuck in Firth.
Cast: Ricco Ross, Germar Gardner
NAHJUM, (Directors: Sebastian Torres Greene, Manuel Del Valle, Writers: Sebastian Torres Greene, Manuel Del Valle, Erik Hirschhorn)
A prehistoric family’s desperate search for a mythical source of life turns into tragedy when the egos and obsessions of their male members rise to the surface.
Cast: Alejandra Herrera, Estanislao Marin, Fernando Rojasbarr
NOOR AND LAYLA, (Director/Writer: Fawzia Mirza)
Noor and Layla are breaking up. Is it the end of the road for these two Muslim women… or is it the beginning? Noor & Layla is about reclaiming ritual through the love story of two queer, Muslim women, told at five different moments in their relationship, marked by the five calls to prayer (fajr, dhur, asr, maghrib, isha). The film opens at fajr, the dawn prayer, at the end of their relationship and follows a reverse chronology to the evening prayer, isha, the moment they first met.
Cast: Nicole Nwokolo and Sahar B. Agustin-Maleki
PIZZA PARTY, (Director/Writer: Tessa Hope Slovis)
“We are not broken, we are a million shattered pieces glued into something strong and solid”
Based on a true event preceding the Larry Nassar trials, an unlikely pair come together at a dystopian pizza party for sexual assault survivors. #42; A quiet high schooler meets #1; A quick-witted litigator due with her first child any day now- flanked lovingly by her husband Max. Their relationship blooms and #42 becomes #1’s greatest teacher. Through solidarity, #42, #1 and every woman in the room begins to reconcile with and acknowledge the innocence that was taken away from them. Opening a portal into a dream-like world of leotards and little girl cries, of strength, joy and unrelenting fury.
Cast: Margot Bingham, Jen Ponton, Catherine Elvir, Gene Gallerano
SELAHY, (Director/Writer: Alaa Zabara)
A short narrative film that takes place in war-torn Yemen and follows a young deaf girl, Saleemah who has one major love in this world; her camera which her brother Aqeel introduced her to. Aqeel works as a news reporter and is unable to take her out to film because he is preoccupied covering the war. Frustrated, Saleemah wanders out of the house during an impending air strike. To make matters worse, she loses her hearing aids.
Cast: Malak Nassar, Mohammad Nizar
SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE, (Director/Writer: Jane Chow)
In Los Angeles Chinatown, a lonely teenager tries to help her parents keep their seafood restaurant afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between chopping green beans and packing takeout orders, she attempts to hang on to a semblance of normalcy by studying for her driver’s permit and prepping for her high school Zoom theater debut in “The Tempest.”
Cast: Caitlin Cheung, Alice Ko, Jim Lau
STAIRS, (Director: Zoljargal Purevdash, Writers: Nomin-Erdene Turmunkh, Zoljargal Purevdash, Genevieve Clay-Smith)
A young man’s dream to make a living in Ulaanbaatar is put to the test when he must navigate the social and physical obstacles in his path.
Cast: Davaasuren Bayarmunkh, Egshiglen Bayarbat, Dambiljantsan Vandansodov, Byambabud Sukhtumur
THE SUMMER OF SNAKES, (Director/Writer: Lara Panah-Izadi)
A famous sculptor revisits a childhood summer haunted by a trauma that she will overcome through her colorful art. Inspired by the life of feminist icon and artist Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002).
Cast: Isabella Crovetti, Will Murden, Sydney Lemmon, JB Waterman
SUPERESTAR, (Director/Writer: Daniel Larios)
Two Salvadoran women, one a first generation indie-pop singer, and the other an immigrant bathroom attendant at an LA nightclub, bond over their different troubles and their mutual love of music.
Cast: Jacqueline Munguia, Jasmin Iraheta, Pedro Isaac Chairez, David Atsbaha, Freddy Giorlando, Nico de Gallo
WALKING THROUGH PEANUT BUTTER, (Director: Lorena Russi, Writer: Anna Marr)
22-year-old workaholic Jessie has just moved to the city that never sleeps to follow her dreams of stand-up comedy. She also has narcolepsy, a misunderstood sleep disorder that even she knows little about. In this short, Jessie steps up to the mic only to discover a strange new symptom that will threaten to challenge her comedy career and force her to wake up to the reality of having a serious chronic illness. World Premiere
Cast: Anna Marr, JJ Warshaw, Fumi Abe, Bethany Lauren James, Sarah Wharton, Brian Morabito
WHEN THE LEAVES FALL, (Director/Writer: Chantel Chavon)
Triggered by a haunting childhood memory, a homeless woman living inside an abandoned bus shelter loses her grip on reality, ultimately putting herself and those around her in imminent danger. Based on true accounts, When the Leaves Fall is a gripping story that explores the intersectionality of mental illness and racism, exposing the dangerous fallout that can arise for people when symptoms are ignored or neglected. This is a thought-provoking film that hopes to bring awareness to those who suffer from mental illness and to ignite a powerful conversation around the pervasiveness of racism in today’s society.
Cast: Morgan Lavenstein, Mickey O’Sullivan, Nadia Simms, Sophie Leonard, Jeremy Phillips, Tonray Ho, Chantel Chavon
WOMANHOOD, (Director/Writer: Sierra Swartz)
Two polar opposite sisters navigate the emotional mishmash of becoming a woman.
Cast: Sierra Swartz, Ryker Baloun, Andi Rexha, Betsy Moore, Juliette Allison Bailey
YOU ARE ME & I AM YOU, (Director: Melissa Kirkendall)
A documentary about Carmen Cumba, an indigenous midwife in the High Sierras of Ecuador who despite many hardships and obstacles has dedicated her life to helping the women of her community both as an Ancestral medicine practitioner and as an advocate for equality for her fellow midwives in Ecuador.
BETA, (Director: Calli Ryals, Writer: Adriana Leonard, Carley Marcelle)
Angelina “Lini” is– was– Delta’s assistant. But now they’re… TBD. After Delta finds out her soul-sucking corporate consulting job is officially a dead end, Lini convinces her to pursue her daydream of becoming an “entrepreneur.” What begins as a strange work dynamic between an odd couple eventually grows into a beautiful friendship of two women recognizing the best (and the worst) in each other, and deciding that they’re stronger as a team, in both life and business. World Premiere
Cast: Adriana Leonard, Carley Marcelle, Ian Owens, Patrick John Flueger
FOLLOWING HANNAH STONE, (Director/Writer: Clea DeCrane)
Brooke Jensen is in the eye of a quarter-life crisis hurricane, which stems from the bullying she endured in high school. When her prime teen tormentor Hannah Stone suddenly deleted her socials, Brooke spirals out, and begins an instagram-fueled stalking spree, hunting down various bullies from her past until she finds the ultimate one. What will she do when she sees Hannah after almost a decade? She has no clue — she just knows she needs to do it. World Premiere
Cast: Simone Grossman, Shazi Raja, Lindsley Howard, Ben Lorenz and Jessica Darrow
GIRL NIGHT STAND: CHAPTER TWO, (Director/Writer: Jenna Laurenzo)
A woman craving connection during Covid, reaches out to her ex-girlfriend. When she’s invited over, they awkwardly navigate whether or not they’re willing to drop their masks to reignite their romance.
Cast: Jenna Laurenzo, Meryl Jones Williams
THE HIGH LIFE, (Directors: Amy French, Stephanie Sanditz, Writer: Stephanie Sanditz)
The High Life is a half-hour serialized dramedy exploring a mixed-religious family, when their black sheep daughter moves back home and tries to find God out of her childhood bedroom. The Pilot follows the Gold family as they reunite upon the mysterious death-request of their wealthy Aunt Linda, where everyone is forced to look at their lives with a little more honesty, revealing no one is who they pretend to be. Based on a Real-Life Co-Ed Naked Family Funeral.
Cast: Stephanie Sanditz, Amy Landecker, Ron Perkins, Jesse Garcia, Linda Purl, Jeremy Glazer, Christopher Mychael Watson, Jonathan La Vallee
NOW WITH FIONA, (Director: Fiona Dawson)
Now With Fiona is an unscripted series hosted by Emmy® nominated and award winning filmmaker Fiona Dawson, who shares unexpected stories from the LGBTQ community of people being kind and courageous in the face of adversity. In this WorldPride themed proof-of-concept show, Fiona finds voices of hope from the streets of New York City. Taking inspiration from the visionary gay politician Harvey Milk, and Kate, an indomitable Honduran transgender woman seeking asylum, Fiona demonstrates that we are all legends unto ourselves. The episode has versions in full English and full Honduran Spanish subtitles. Later in the season, Fiona will explore stories from all facets of life through an intersectional lens, including Texans who empower LGBTQ youth to Morman families supporting their queer children. Fiona brings a vivaciousness, excitement and wit, while at the same time opening up dialogue that breaks down stigma and discrimination affecting the LGBTQ community.
For more information about the 2021 Bentonville Film Festival, visit bentonvillefilm.org and follow Bentonville Film Festival across social media channels:
About The Bentonville Film Foundation – A non-profit organization focused on promoting underrepresented voices of diverse storytellers. We want to amplify storytellers who identify as female, non-binary, LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and people with disabilities in entertainment and media. We do this through research, education, and supporting the production and distribution of inclusive content. BFFoundation is focused on working with its partners to foster inclusivity in media and entertainment to produce a positive influence in the community at large. BFFoundation produces the annual Bentonville Film Festival (BFF), chaired by Academy Award® winner Geena Davis.
About The Bentonville Film Festival – Chaired by Academy Award® winner Geena Davis, the Bentonville Film Festival is a one-of-a-kind annual event that champions inclusion in all forms of media. BFF is a year-long platform with the BFFoundation, culminating with a six-day festival, in collaboration with the founding sponsor, Walmart, and presenting sponsor, Coca-Cola. The Bentonville Film Festival is held annually in Bentonville, Arkansas and the surrounding region of Northwest Arkansas.
Gregg W. Morris can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org