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Bentonville Film Festival 2023: Screenings, panel discussions, events

There will be exclusive film screenings, panel conversations, and lots of other programming experiences led by Academy Award winner Geena Davis.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) is back for its 2023 lineup from June 13-18. There will be exclusive film screenings, panel conversations, and lots of other programming experiences led by Academy Award winner Geena Davis.

The nonprofit behind the film festival is the BFFoundation, an organization that says its focus is spotlighting diverse storytellers and produces the BFF with the goal of "foster[ing] inclusivity in media and entertainment to be a positive influence in the community at large."

On May 25, the BFFoundation announced the full programming that will come with this year's festival. 

Panel discussions are presented in partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

“Now, more than ever, we see a demand for the storytelling we have been championing over the last nine years,” Davis said in the event announcement. 

“We are so proud to continue in the bold and vital work that makes BFF unique: this year’s film directors are 70% Female, 60% BIPOC/AAPI and 52% LGBTQIA+."


Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse 

Screening and Q&A

Art For Everybody (Director, Miranda Yousef)

Spotlight screening

Info: After Thomas Kinkade's passing, his daughters uncovered a trove of unseen, dark paintings, launching a search for the true man behind the brand. It uncovers the real Thomas Kinkade.

Invisible Beauty (Director, Bethann Hardison, Frédéric Tcheng)

Spotlight screening

Info: Fashion revolutionary Bethann Hardison looks back on her journey as a pioneering Black model, modeling agent, and activist, shining a light on an untold chapter in the fight for racial diversity

Kokomo City (Director, D Smith)

Spotlight screening

Info: A raw depiction of the lives of four Black trans sex workers as they confront the dichotomy between the Black community and themselves.

Additionally, the Bentonville Film Festival is expanding its community outdoor theater to include a unique dining experience in partnership with Golden West Food Group.

Giving Birth in America: Arkansas 

Film screening and panel

Info: Giving Birth in America: Arkansas spotlights Arkansas, the state with the highest maternal mortality rate in the United States. It follows three mothers as they grapple with mental health concerns, lack of paid leave, and other challenges in the days, weeks, and months following birth, vividly painting a picture of the gaps in the current landscape of postpartum care

World premiere screenings

THE SOUND OF FREEDOM (Director, Jim Caviezel)

A major motion picture based on the powerful true story of a former CIA operative, who risks everything to rescue an 11 year old girl who was kidnapped and sold to a Colombian Cartel. His mission takes him from California to the war-torn jungles of Colombia, where he finds himself outnumbered, outgunned, and alone. 

Founder Girls


In this kaleidoscopic ode to girlhood by the Queen Collective (Founded by Queen Latifah), a group of young campers find freedom, sisterhood and themselves, at a historically Black summer camp in San Antonio, Texas.

The Story of Mr. Glass (Director, MacKenzie Martz; Producer, Devin Arnone; Producer, Devon Gulati)

An inspiring documentary that showcases the extraordinary life of David Glass, from his humble beginnings to his driving force behind the growth of Walmart for over two decades as CEO and owner of the Kansas City Royals.

Studio exclusives


Walt Disney Company 100-Year Celebration

Free outdoor family screenings of

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Snow White
  • Frozen
  • Encanto

Exclusive screening and conversation with Mindy Johnson, animator and author


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 10-Year Anniversary Celebration

Prepare to be transported back to the thrilling world of Panem to commemorate a decade since the release. 

Exclusive advance screening of Ordinary Angels

Info: Kingdom Story Company’s Ordinary Angels, starring Hillary Swank, is a drama based on the true story of a struggling hairdresser who rallies her Louisville, Kentucky community to help a widowed father save his critically ill daughter, all while the state is hit by a major snowstorm.


Exclusive screening and conversation with the team behind Deepa & Anoop

Info: This event will feature two episodes of Netflix’s Deepa & Anoop with an interactive conversation with the artists, actors, and production team behind the show. This event is meant to be family-friendly. It will also begin and end with dance performances from the local South-Asian community groups.

Warner Brothers

Exclusive advance screening of The Flash

Info: Witness an extraordinary cinematic event as Warner Brothers proudly presents an exclusive advance screening of "The Flash." Delve into the thrilling story of Barry Allen, who utilizes his incredible super speed to alter the course of history.


Purpose Driven Progress

Info: True progress in changing minds, challenging traditions, and creating movements that stir and motivate audiences to take action can’t be made without a purpose. 

Brand leaders share how they've implemented corporate initiatives to amplify social issues.

Reel Bodies in the Reel World

Info: "Reel Bodies in the Reel World" is an empowering panel discussion exploring the crucial role body size representation plays in shaping media narratives.

Moderator: Elizabeth Kilpatrick, Sr. VP Development and Operations at Geena Davis Institute

Confirmed Panelists:

  • Soraya Giaccardi, Sr. Researcher, USC Norman Lear Center
  • Brianna McDonnell, Performer and Creative Producer, The B Word
  • Jackie Schwartz, Award-Winning Filmmaker, Writer, and Activist
  • Britney Young, Actress, “Glow,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Better Things”

If She Can See It, She Can Be It

Info: A showcase of actors, content creators, and entertainment executives who have successfully created or worked with female-driven content.

Breaking Down Barriers: Women Investing in Women

This event is a celebration of women entrepreneurs, executives, and innovators in entertainment, media, and corporate brands who are driving positive change by investing in women. 

Panelists include: 

  • Jane Hwang (Global VP of M&M’s)
  • Lisa Dyson, Ph.D. (Air Protein Founder & CEO)
  • Deedee Wright-Ward (Founder of Purpose Toys) 
  • Kristen Moss (VP of Strategic Communications, Coca-Cola)


Rolling Canvas: A Cinematic Art Bike Adventure (free)

Participants will experience a community art ride via an exclusive route throughout Bentonville followed by a screening

Geena and Friends (cast announcement coming soon)

Geena Davis helms an all-star cast in showcasing the transformative impact of diversifying casting choices. 


BFFoundation Storytellers Showcase

Short film screenings and conversations with emerging and established filmmakers

  • Expanded by Bella and Gracie Hall & Coca Cola Refreshing Films teams
  • Fish Out of Town by Sofia Garba-Banza & Mars Wrigley
  • A Real One by McKenzie Chinn & NBCUniversal

Cinema Talks Series: Faith in Film

Info: This panel brings together influential voices from the film industry to explore the transformative and inspirational impact of movies grounded in faith. 

Moderator: Madeline Di Nonno, CEO of Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

  • Chevonne O'Shaunnesey, American Cinema
  • Tiffany Long, Founder & CEO of Troops & Allies
  • Charlie Humbard, President and owner for UPTV
  • Jim Shubert, Pure Flix
  • Cindy Bond, Mission Pictures

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