April 28, 2015


Bentonville Film Festival (BFF), which debuts May 5-9, unveiled a panel series that covers over a dozen topics addressing women, diversity and their intersections within the entertainment industry, featuring many well-known and highly regarded participants from various sectors of the industry. The Festival also revealed details of several special events including a softball game headlined by “A League of Their Own” stars Geena Davis and Rosie O’Donnell, as well as a BFF concert series.

Here are some panel discussions scheduled to run during the festival:

In Control of Her Own Destiny (Women who created their own successful film production companies)
Participants include  Rosie O’Donnell, Melissa Joan Hart, Alysia Reiner, Kristin Hahn, Sarah Morgan Thomas

Behind the Lens (Directors’ perspective on diversity in cinema)
Participants include Catherine Hardwicke, Nisha Ganatra, George Tillman Jr., Perri Peltz, Anna Martemucci, Josh Welsh (Film Independent)

Catherine Hardwicke Directors’ Workshop “Twilight” Director Catherine Hardwicke presents a Director’s Process Workshop

Redefining Family Entertainment (Best practices for creating content parents can approve and support)
Participants include Geena Davis, Wanda Young (Walmart), Yalda Uhls (Common Sense Media), Lana Castleman (KidScreen), Laura Caraccioli (Electus), Patty Kerr (AFE), Madeline Di Nonno (Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media), Sarah Noonan (Nickelodeon)

Decoding Stereotypes in Media – Sponsored by Google
Participants include Julie Ann Crommett (Google), Sowmya Subramanian (YouTube), YouTube Science expert Crystal Dilworth, and producers Diane Ikemiyashiro, ("Miles from Tomorrowland”) and Susan Cartsonis (“What Women Want”)

Art of the Deal (Deals breaking the boundaries for women and minority filmmakers)
Participants include Jason Kelly (Bloomberg Media), Elizabeth Frank (AMC), Jon Patricof (Tribeca Enterprises), Peter Trinh (ICM), Geralyn Dreyfous (Impact Partners), Emily Best (Seed&Spark) and Darrell Miller (Fox Rothchild)

Real vs Reel Diversity (Entertainment and business leaders affecting change on-screen and behind-the-scenes)
Participants include Michelle Ebanks (Essence), Nikkole Denson-Randolph (AMC), Gil Robertson (AAFCA), Brian Yang, Sharonda L. Britton (Walmart), Khandi Alexander, Maria Morales (PEOPLE en Espanol)

Power of the Pen (Improving the representation of women and diversity through great characters)
Participants include Darla K. Anderson, Effie Brown, Ami Canaan Mann, Susan Cartsonis

Power of the Brand for Social Change (The role of corporations in addressing gender equality and diversity)
Participants include Stuart Kronauge (Coca-Cola), Raquel Harris (Sams), Mindy McAlindon (Southern Acres Marketing), Kristine Decker (P&G), Michelle Ferguson (Luna), Elise Mitchell (Mitchell Communications), Danielle Carrig, (Lifetime)

Digital Storytelling: Breaking boundaries for Women & Diversity (Best practices to create more female and storytelling leveraging multiple digital platforms)
Participants include Julian Franco (Vudu), Melanie Capacia Johnson (Tiny Horse), Jonathan Shank (Red Light), Tom Hoehn (Walmart), Dyllan McGee (Makers), Kelly Edwards, (HBO), Amirose Eisenbach, (AMC)

Women in Advertising
Participants include Jillian Gibbs (APR), Kat Gordon, Andy Murray (Walmart), Jiah Choi (Coca-Cola), Dorothy Thompson (Streetlights)

Gender Equality: Why Men Matter
Participants include Wanda Young, (Walmart), Fernando Szew, (MarVista Entertainment), Dean General, (Kraft), JS Kang, (Sterling Sports Management), Judge Reinhold

Women’s Economic Empowerment
Participants include Geena Davis, Kathleen McLaughlin (Walmart), Helene Gayle (CARE), Pamela Prince-Easton (WBENC), Abigail Wozniak (The White House)

Seed & Spark Crowdfunding  Workshop
     Emily Best (CEO of indie-film crowdfunding and distribution platform Seed&Spark) and Greg Cohen

Speical events:

The BFF opening ceremony will take place on Tuesday, May 5th at the world acclaimed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which was founded by Alice Walton, designed by Moshe Safdie, and features the largest collection of American Art in the world. Geena Davis will open the star-studded gala event with a keynote address.

BFF will hold a softball game on Thursday, May 7 at Arvest Park, home of the minor league baseball team, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Country music star Sara Evans will be on hand to sing the national anthem and open the game, which will have two teams managed by Geena Davis and Rosie O’Donnell, co-stars of the iconic women’s baseball film “A League of Their Own.” Two-time Olympic medalist and women’s softball icon Jennie Finch will be among the players suiting up for this game. There will be an evening screening of the film at the stadium following the game.

My Country Nation will sponsor a BFF concert that will include a performance from American country singer-songwriter Frankie Ballard, country/pop duo Megan&Liz  (Megan and Liza Mace) as well as a special “Sound of Music” concert event featuring the Von Trapp family with the Bentonville Choir and Bentonville Orchestra.

The concert will be held at the Arend Arts Center. There will also be a nightly concert series held at the Ice House of Bentonville with performances to be announced this week.

In addition to the opening ceremony, Crystal Bridges Museum will host two very special BFF events. On Thursday, May 7th the Museum will host BFF’s discussion with Robert De Niro following a screening of ”Remembering the Artist” - the acclaimed documentary about De Niro’s father, Robert De Niro Sr., directed by Perri Peltz.

The following day (May 8th), the Museum will host “Geena and Friends,” which will see Geena Davis  and a select group of brilliantly talented women in a table read where they re-imagine some great dialogue from all-male movie scenes. A light-hearted way to explore how funny, unique and perhaps refreshing it can be to expand our vision of who can be cast in roles originally written for men. Rosie O’Donnell, Dana Owens (Queen Latifah)Khandi Alexander and Alysia Reiner will be among participants in this lively event.

BFF’s closing night awards show, presented by Kraft Foods Group, will be co-hosted by Nick Cannon (host of NBC's “America's Got Talent”) and award winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor, and producer Soledad O’Brien, on Friday, May 8th at the Old High. Presenters will include Courteney Cox and Dana Owens (Queen Latifah).

The complete BFF schedule of events, including dates, times and venue locations can be found on the BFF website

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