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BFF: Plot Your Bentonville Film Festival Itinerary Here

by Jocelyn Murphy | August 1, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.
A Narrative Feature competition film, “Americanish” is a romantic comedy that highlights different layers of womanhood as they intersect cultural and societal expectations. “Sometimes you can just let these characters be multi-layered,” says Ashley Edwards, BFF director of programming. Rather than focusing on the “other-ness” of the women’s heritage, the film is “just about them being people in New York City — humans. And that is, to me, true representation when you can really see yourself on screen and you’re just having the pains and the woes and the ups and downs that any human being would have.” (Courtesy Image/Bentonville Film Festival)

The Bentonville Film Festival was founded to and has become recognized internationally for championing underrepresented voices in filmmaking.

For the festival's seventh's year, the films selected for the juried competition are as representative of that mission as ever. Of the 55 films, 71% were directed by women; 75% by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and other people of color) or Asian and Pacific Islander filmmakers; and 33% were directed by LGBTQIA+ filmmakers.

"It is true that what we see greatly impacts what we think is normal, what we appreciate and what we accept," asserts Academy Award-winning actor Geena Davis, the festival's chairperson and co-founder. "So it really makes a huge difference what stories are being told, and whose voices being heard. And the more we can do that and spread that out into the wider community, the better off that we all will be."

Use this schedule to put together your perfect itinerary and read more about the films at bentonvillefilm.org. All locations are in Bentonville, except where noted, and all times are Central Standard.

AUG. 2

"Mogul Mowgli"

WHAT -- Spotlight Presentation: On the brink of his first international tour, a British Pakistani rapper decides to fly home to visit his estranged family but in the midst of trying to reconnect, he is suddenly struck down by an autoimmune disease. Followed by moderated Q & A. Opening night selection

WHEN -- Virtual screening, visit website for details

COST -- $15

AUG. 3

"The First Step"

WHAT -- Spotlight Film: Black progressive activist and CNN commentator Van Jones' bridge-building journey in a time of extreme polarization.

WHEN -- 5 p.m.

WHERE -- White Auditorium at NWACC, 1 College Dr.

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"Thelma & Louise"

WHAT -- 30th anniversary drive-in screening, followed by live-streamed conversation with star Geena Davis and screenwriter Callie Khouri.

WHEN -- 8 p.m.

WHERE -- 112 Drive-In Theater in Fayetteville

COST -- $30/car

AUG. 4

"7 Days"

WHAT -- Narrative Feature Competition Film: Rita and Ravi find themselves sheltering together during quarantine after being set up on an arranged marriage date by their traditional Indian parents. Followed by moderated Q & A with on- and off-screen talent.

WHEN -- 10:30 a.m.

WHERE -- Skylight Cinema

COST -- $15; virtual screening available Aug. 2-8

"All These Sons"

WHAT -- Documentary Feature Competition Film: A collection of neighborhood-based anti-violence organizations fight to end gun violence and systemic oppression in Chicago. Followed by a moderated Q & A with on- and off-screen talent.

WHEN -- 3:30 p.m.

WHERE -- Meteor Guitar Gallery

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"CODA"

WHAT -- Spotlight Film: As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family's fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music and her fear of abandoning her parents.

WHEN -- Visit website for details

WHERE -- Skylight Cinema

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu"

WHAT -- Narrative Feature Competition Film: A funny and touching multi-generational story about family, forgiveness and being true to oneself that follows Wu family matriarch Lily's endeavor to repair her relationship with her daughter. Followed by moderated Q & A with on- and off-screen talent. World Premiere

WHEN -- 8:30 p.m.

WHERE -- Meteor Guitar Gallery

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

AUG. 5

"At The Ready"

WHAT -- Documentary Feature Competition Film: 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. Followed by moderated Q & A with on- and off-screen talent.

WHEN -- 10 a.m.

WHERE -- White Auditorium at NWACC, 1 College Dr.

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available only to audiences in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Missouri

"I'm Fine (Thanks For Asking)"

WHAT -- Narrative Feature Competition Film: A debut feature that is equal turns funny and heart wrenching as recently widowed Danny barely makes ends meet for herself and her 8-year-old daughter. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 10 a.m.

WHERE -- Skylight Cinema

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"YOUTH v GOV"

WHAT -- Documentary Feature Competition Film: Twenty-one young Americans lead a groundbreaking lawsuit against the U.S. government for its role in the climate crisis. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 10:30 a.m.

WHERE -- Skylight Cinema

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"Crutch"

WHAT -- Documentary Feature Competition Film: Bill Shannon is an internationally renowned artist, breakdancer and skateboarder on crutches who uses his performance art to expose the secret world of assumptions that exists all around us. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 1:15 p.m.

WHERE -- Walmart World Room at The Walmart Museum

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"Try Harder!"

WHAT -- Documentary Feature Competition Film: The top public high school in San Francisco has a majority Asian-American student body whose seniors are about to navigate the intersection of class, race and educational opportunity of the college application process. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 2:30 p.m.

WHERE -- White Auditorium at NWACC, 1 College Dr.

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available only to audiences in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Missouri

"Americanish"

WHAT -- Narrative Feature Competition Film: In Queens, N.Y., two sisters and their fresh-off-the-boat cousin try all the conventional ways to earn the love and respect of the family matriarch.

WHEN -- 3:30 p.m.

WHERE -- Meteor Guitar Gallery

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available only to audiences in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Missouri

"A Fire Within"

WHAT -- Documentary Feature Competition Film: The true story of three Ethiopian women who immigrate to the U.S. and take a stand to bring their torturer to justice when they find him working at the same hotel in Atlanta, Ga., as one of the women. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 4 p.m.

WHERE -- Walmart World Room at The Walmart Museum

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"The Daphne Project"

WHAT -- Narrative Feature Competition Film: Daphne Wilco, actress and social justice warrior, wreaks havoc on a production of Euripides' "The Bacchae" in the name of progress -- her progress. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 5 p.m.

WHERE -- White Auditorium at NWACC, 1 College Dr.

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"Have A Nice Life"

WHAT -- Spotlight Feature: After hitting dead ends in life, an Indian housewife and a stoner musician find themselves on the run from the law, together on a wild, surreal American road trip. Followed by a live moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 7 p.m.

WHERE -- Walmart World Room at The Walmart Museum

COST -- $15, in person only

"Coast"

WHAT -- Spotlight Film: Desperate to escape the trappings of her small coastal farming town, 16-year-old Abby falls for the lead singer of a touring rock band and must decide whether or not to leave her family and friends behind. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 7:30 p.m.

WHERE -- Meteor Guitar Gallery

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available at 7 p.m. Aug. 6 for 24 hours.

"Waikiki"

WHAT -- Narrative Feature Competition Film: A Native hula dancer is flung into a surrealistic journey of self-exploration and enlightenment in a tale that breaks down the enduring, stereotypical image of paradise to reveal a vulnerable and authentic portrait of indignity. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 8 p.m.

WHERE -- Skylight Cinema

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

AUG. 6

"Mom & M"

WHAT -- Documentary Feature Competition Film: An intimate portrait of modern American parenthood that navigates what happens when your partner comes out as transgender while caring for an ill child. A deep-seated glimpse of love's power in surviving extraordinary circumstances. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 10 a.m.

WHERE -- Skylight Cinema

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"Subjects of Desire"

WHAT -- Documentary Feature Competition Film: A culturally significant, provocative film that explores the cultural shift in North American beauty standards toward embracing Black female aesthetics and features while exposing the deliberate and dangerous portrayals of Black women in the media. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 10:15 a.m.

WHERE -- Walmart World Room at The Walmart Museum

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"Ludi"

WHAT -- Narrative Feature Competition Film: Hardworking and exhausted nurse Ludi battles coworkers, clients and one impatient bus driver to learn her self worth as she chases the American dream. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 10:30 a.m.

WHERE -- Skylight Cinema

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available to only U.S. audiences

"Uprooted: The History of Jazz Dance"

WHAT -- Documentary Feature Competition Film: The story of jazz dance is a complex one that goes to the very heart of humanity. It is a story of triumph over diversity, oppression and privilege, as well as a celebration. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 10:30 a.m.

WHERE -- Meteor Guitar Gallery

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available to only Arkansas audiences

Hulu's "Changing the Game"

WHAT -- Special Presentation: Journeying into the lives of three high school athletes at different stages of their athletic seasons, personal lives, and their unique paths as transgender teens.

WHEN -- 1 p.m.

WHERE -- White Auditorium at NWACC, 1 College Dr.

COST -- $15

"Beans"

WHAT -- Narrative Feature Competition Film: A look at the 1990 Oka Crisis at Kanesatake -- a Mohawk settlement in Quebec, Canada -- through the eyes of a young Mohawk girl whose perspective on life is radically changed by these events. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 1 p.m.

WHERE -- Walmart World Room at The Walmart Museum

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available to only Arkansas audiences

"Workhorse Queen"

WHAT -- Documentary Feature Competition Film: An exploration of the complexities of mainstream television's impact on queer performance culture, as well as the life and career of Mrs. Kasha Davis -- Ed Popil by day -- before and after being cast on "RuPaul's Drag Race." Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 4 p.m.

WHERE -- Skylight Cinema

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"See You Then"

WHAT -- Narrative Feature Competition Film: A transgender computer programmer and an Asian-American performance artist reconnect 15 years after their breakup in a story that focuses on the universal truth that no matter how much you change, a part of you will always stay the same. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 4:30 p.m.

WHERE -- White Auditorium at NWACC, 1 College Dr.

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available only to audiences in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Missouri

"The Novice"

WHAT -- Narrative Feature Competition Film: A college freshman joins her university's cut-throat rowing team and undertakes an obsessive journey to make the top varsity boat, no matter the cost.

WHEN -- 7:30 p.m.

WHERE -- White Auditorium at NWACC, 1 College Dr.

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

AUG. 7

Competition Shorts Block 1

WHAT -- Seven titles in the Shorts Competition category. Films will be followed by moderated Q & As.

WHEN -- 10 a.m.

WHERE -- White Auditorium at NWACC, 1 College Dr.

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

Competition Shorts Block 3

WHAT -- Six titles in the Shorts Competition category. Films will be followed by moderated Q & As.

WHEN -- 10 a.m.

WHERE -- Walmart World Room at The Walmart Museum

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"Catch The Fair One"

WHAT -- Narrative Feature Competition Film: A former boxer embarks on the fight of her life when she goes in search of her missing sister. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- noon

WHERE -- CACHE at 214 in Springdale

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

Competition Shorts Block 2

WHAT -- Eight titles in the Shorts Competition category. Films will be followed by moderated Q & As.

WHEN -- 1 p.m.

WHERE -- White Auditorium at NWACC, 1 College Dr.

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

Competition Shorts Block 4

WHAT -- The remaining six titles in the Shorts Competition category. Films will be followed by moderated Q & As.

WHEN -- 1 p.m.

WHERE -- Walmart World Room at The Walmart Museum

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"Women is Losers"

WHAT -- Narrative Feature Competition Film: A dramedy inspired by real women that follows 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. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- 1:30 p.m.

WHERE -- Meteor Guitar Gallery

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

"Language Lessons"

WHAT -- Spotlight Film: A Spanish teacher and her student develop an unexpected friendship. World Premiere

WHEN -- 3 p.m.

WHERE -- CACHE at 214 in Springdale

COST -- $15

"Kili Big"

WHAT -- Documentary Feature Competition Film: A group of plus-sized women from around the world attempt to climb the tallest peak in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. Followed by moderated Q & A. World Premiere

WHEN -- 4 p.m.

WHERE -- Meteor Guitar Gallery

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

Competition Episodics

WHAT -- A showing of the five titles in the Episodic Competition category. Followed by moderated Q & As.

WHEN -- 5 p.m.

WHERE -- White Auditorium at NWACC, 1 College Dr.

COST -- $15; single virtual screening also available

VIRTUAL SHOWINGS

"Feeling Through Experience"

WHAT -- Special Presentation: The first film to star a DeafBlind actor; a coming of age story that follows a teen wandering the streets of New York when he encounters a DeafBlind man in need of help getting home. Followed by "Connecting The Dots," a documentary about the making of the film, and the search for the DeafBlind man who inspired it.

WHEN -- Available for single virtual screening per ticket beginning at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 2.

COST -- $15

"Falling For Figaro"

WHAT -- Spotlight Presentation: A brilliant young fund manager leaves her unfulfilling job and long-term boyfriend to chase her lifelong dream of becoming an opera singer in the Scottish Highlands. Followed by moderated Q & A.

WHEN -- Available to stream beginning at 8 p.m. Aug. 3 for 24 hours

COST -- $15

In the summer of 2020, Chicago experienced the worst rates of gun violence in nearly two decades. “All These Sons” is a Documentary Feature competition film that follows a collection of neighborhood-based anti-violence organizations as they fight for change to end this cycle of death. Screening at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at Meteor Guitar Gallery and virtually.

(Courtesy Image/Bentonville Film Festival)
In the summer of 2020, Chicago experienced the worst rates of gun violence in nearly two decades. “All These Sons” is a Documentary Feature competition film that follows a collection of neighborhood-based anti-violence organizations as they fight for change to end this cycle of death. Screening at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at Meteor Guitar Gallery and virtually. (Courtesy Image/Bentonville Film Festival)
“If you go back to the beginning of cinema, when those characters were the trope, you realize this is why people see transgender people like that because we have represented them wrong,” Ashley Edwards, BFF director of programming, says of this year’s films that focus on trans subjects’ day-to-day lives, like Documentary Feature competition film “Mom & M.” “It’s not solely to blame on Hollywood, but it really does affect people because that’s the first thing we do is we watch television — so how we see characters. And that’s really changed.”

(Courtesy Image/Bentonville Film Festival)
“If you go back to the beginning of cinema, when those characters were the trope, you realize this is why people see transgender people like that because we have represented them wrong,” Ashley Edwards, BFF director of programming, says of this year’s films that focus on trans subjects’ day-to-day lives, like Documentary Feature competition film “Mom & M.” “It’s not solely to blame on Hollywood, but it really does affect people because that’s the first thing we do is we watch television — so how we see characters. And that’s really changed.” (Courtesy Image/Bentonville Film Festival)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 19: Bill Shannon attends New York City Dance Parade on May 19, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Thos Robinson) *** local caption ***Bill Shannon
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 19: Bill Shannon attends New York City Dance Parade on May 19, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Thos Robinson) *** local caption ***Bill Shannon
lead

“Subjects of Desire” is a Documentary Feature competition film screening at 10:15 a.m. Aug. 6 at the Walmart World Room at The Walmart Museum, and virtually. The film explores the cultural shift in North American beauty standards toward embracing Black female aesthetics and features while exposing the deliberate and often dangerous portrayals of Black women in the media.

(Courtesy Image/Bentonville Film Festival)
lead “Subjects of Desire” is a Documentary Feature competition film screening at 10:15 a.m. Aug. 6 at the Walmart World Room at The Walmart Museum, and virtually. The film explores the cultural shift in North American beauty standards toward embracing Black female aesthetics and features while exposing the deliberate and often dangerous portrayals of Black women in the media. (Courtesy Image/Bentonville Film Festival)
After hitting dead ends in life, Jyothi, an Indian housewife, and Sophie, a stoner musician, find themselves on the run from the law, together on a wild, surreal American road trip in “Have A Nice Life.” The film is a Spotlight Feature at the festival and screens at 7 p.m. Aug. 4 in the Walmart World Room at The Walmart Museum.

(Courtesy Image/Bentonville Film Festival)
After hitting dead ends in life, Jyothi, an Indian housewife, and Sophie, a stoner musician, find themselves on the run from the law, together on a wild, surreal American road trip in “Have A Nice Life.” The film is a Spotlight Feature at the festival and screens at 7 p.m. Aug. 4 in the Walmart World Room at The Walmart Museum. (Courtesy Image/Bentonville Film Festival)
A trend programmers noticed in the competition film submissions were several examples of male directors telling female-lead stories, like Narrative Feature compeition fim “Waikiki.” “As I’m sitting through these Q and A’s and listening to the female protagonist and the male director, there’s a simpatico, there’s a collaboration going on,” says Ashley Edwards, BFF director of programming. “So you can tell that the protagonist lead or the female lead, or maybe it was a female writer, still very much has their hand in it and their voice” reflected.

(Courtesy Image/Bentonville Film Festival)
A trend programmers noticed in the competition film submissions were several examples of male directors telling female-lead stories, like Narrative Feature compeition fim “Waikiki.” “As I’m sitting through these Q and A’s and listening to the female protagonist and the male director, there’s a simpatico, there’s a collaboration going on,” says Ashley Edwards, BFF director of programming. “So you can tell that the protagonist lead or the female lead, or maybe it was a female writer, still very much has their hand in it and their voice” reflected. (Courtesy Image/Bentonville Film Festival)
“Workhorse Queen” is a Documentary Feature competition film that follows the life and career of Mrs. Kasha Davis’ — Ed Popil by day — before and after being cast on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The film also explores the complexities of mainstream television’s impact on queer performance culture. Screening 4 p.m. Aug. 6 at Skylight Cinema and virtually.

(Courtesy Image/Bentonville Film Festival)
“Workhorse Queen” is a Documentary Feature competition film that follows the life and career of Mrs. Kasha Davis’ — Ed Popil by day — before and after being cast on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The film also explores the complexities of mainstream television’s impact on queer performance culture. Screening 4 p.m. Aug. 6 at Skylight Cinema and virtually. (Courtesy Image/Bentonville Film Festival)
Gena Davis and Susan Sarandon in Thelma and Louise
Gena Davis and Susan Sarandon in Thelma and Louise

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