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Bentonville Film Festival Announces 2016 Competition Slate

BENTONVILLE (KFSM) — The competition slate for the 2016 Bentonville Film Festival was announced on Thursday (April 7). The festival, which is May 3-8, wil...
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BENTONVILLE (KFSM) — The competition slate for the 2016 Bentonville Film Festival was announced on Thursday (April 7).

The festival, which is May 3-8, will showcase 34 films in the competition, according to a BFF press release. There will be 16 documentaries and 18 narratives, along with a short film competition.

Last year more than 37,000 people attended the festival. Additionally, with Walmart as one of the festival’s sponsors, about 87 percent of the competition films were distributed.

This year, the festival is offering a $19.99 “virtual festival pass” for those who want to watch the films but can’t attend in person, according to a press release. Virtual attendees will be able to watch select movies from the festival through VUDU, Walmart’s digital entertainment service.

Ticket packages for those attending the event are available now. Single tickets will go on sale later in April.

The films selected for the Narrative Competition are:

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion – Director: Castille Landon, Screenwriters: Castille Landon, Ryan O’Nan, Sarah Scougal. (USA/Bulgaria) World Premiere, 100 minutes

A twelve-year-old girl is transported by a magical black stallion to the mystical world of ALBION, where she discovers that she alone is the key to saving an entire race of people.

Cast: John Cleese, Debra Messing, Jennifer Morrison, Stephen Dorff, Richard Kind, Liam McIntyre, Daniel Sharman, Ryan O’Nan, Castille Landon and Avery Rath


American Fable – Director/Screenwriter: Anne Hamilton. (USA) 96 minutes

When 11-year-old Gitty discovers that her beloved father is hiding a wealthy man in her family’s silo in order to save their struggling farm, she befriends the captive in secret and quickly becomes trapped between protecting her family and her soul.

Cast: Richard Schiff, Peyton Kennedy, Kip Pardu, Marci Miller, Rusty Schwimmer, Gavin MacIntosh, Zuleikha Robinson


Comfort – Director/Screenwriter: William Lu (USA) 105 minutes

A late-night courier agrees to pick up the feisty daughter of an important client, and a romance blossoms between them as they explore LA’s food scene.

Cast: Christopher Dinh, Julie Zhan, Kelvin Han Yee, Billy Sly Williams


Embers – Director: Claire Carre’, Screenwriter: Charles Spano, Claire Carre’. (USA/Poland) 86 minutes

After a global neurological epidemic, those who remain search for meaning and connection in a world without memory.

Cast: Jason Ritter, Iva Gocheva, Greta Fernandez, Tucker Smallwood, Karl Glusman


Fair Market Value – Director: Kevin Arbouet, Story: Judy San Roman, Screenwriter: Kevin Arbouet. (USA) World Premiere, 99 minutes

Kendall, a real estate agent from Miami, moves to the suburbs of New York and immediately finds she has to join forces with Brooke, a competitive rival agent, to sell one of the most expensive mansions in Long Island.

Cast: Luisana Lopilato, Craig Bierko, Royce Johnson, Julia Duffy, Drew Meorlein, Jerry Adler, Wendy Makkena, Debra Jo Rupp, Tina Benko, Gene Gabriel, Olga Merediz


Five Nights in Maine – Director/Screenwriter: Maris Curran (USA) 82 minutes

A young African American man, reeling from the tragic loss of his wife, travels to rural Maine to seek answers from his estranged mother-in-law, who is herself confronting guilt and grief over her daughter’s death.

Cast: David Oyelowo, Dianne Wiest, Rosie Perez, Teyonah Parris, Hani Furstenberg


Good Enough – Director/Screenwriter: AnnaRose King (USA) 80 minutes

In the aftermath of her estranged father’s death, Lorna leaves her on-again-off-again boyfriend at home and sets off on a journey across the country in hopes of finding out more about her family and herself.

Cast: AnnaRose King, Ted Tremper, James Caan, Delaney Williams, Ilana Becker, Todd Bartels, Becky Yamamoto, Max Loeb, Sofiya Akilova , Peter Moore


It Had to Be You – Director/Screenwriter: Sasha Gordon (USA/Italy) 83 minutes

Sonia is a neurotic jingle writer who’s always dreamt of a big and exciting life. Surprised by a sudden proposal and subsequent ultimatum from her easy-going boyfriend, Chris, Sonia has to decide whether she’ll join the ranks of her married friends or take a leap and pursue her fantasies.

Cast: Cristin Milioti, Dan Soder, Halley Pfeiffer, Mark Gessner, Kyle Mooney


Josephine – Director: Rory Feek, Screenwriter: Rory Feek and Aaron Carnahan (USA) 80 minutes

In the spring of 1864, a desperate young farmer’s wife enlists in the army, posing as a man.  She battles the enemy, the men of her unit and her own identity in a quest that takes her on a journey from Tennessee to Virginia in search of her missing husband.

Cast: Boris McGiver, Alice Coulthard, Jessejames Locorriere


Kid Witness – Director/Screenwriter: Kevin Kaufman (USA) World Premiere, 94 minutes

While her mother is away on business, a young girl home alone with her older brother witnesses her neighbor’s kidnapping. But no one believes her–not her brother, not the cops. In this family friendly romp, this precocious child takes matters into her own hands to save her neighbor.

Cast: Susan Sarandon, Ripley Sobo, Lev Gorn


Lost & Found – Director: Joseph Itaya, Screenwriters: Joseph Itaya, Erik Cardona (USA) 90 minutes

Andy and his younger brother Mark are sent to visit their estranged uncle on a mysterious island.  They soon discover clues to a complex treasure hunt, a hunt that could lead to unimaginable wealth and heal their broken family – if they can find it in time.

Cast: Justin Kelly, Benjamin Stockham, Céleste Desjardins, with Cary Elwes, and Jason Patric


Operator – Director: Logan Kibens, Screenwriters: Sharon Greene, Logan Kibens (USA) 90 minutes

Joe, an obsessive computer programmer, and Emily, a budding comedy performer, are happily married until they decide to use one another in their work. Operator is a dark comedy about love, technology, and what can’t be programmed.

Cast: Martin Starr, Mae Whitman, Nat Faxon, Cameron Esposito, Retta, Christine Lahti


Running Wild – Director: Alex Ranarivelo, Screenwriters: Christina Moore & Brian Rudnick (USA) World Premiere, 98 minutes

A young widow forced to save her ranch after her husband’s fatal car crash, creates a convict rehabilitation program with a herd of wild horses that wandered on her ranch. She has to overcome greed and bureaucracy to ultimately heal the convicts, horses and herself.

Cast: Sharon Stone, Tommy Flanagan, Jason Lewis, Dorian Brown & Tom Williamson


Saved By Grace – Director: Johnny Remo, Screenwriters: Ken Lemm, Lance Bachelder, Johnny Remo (USA) World Premiere, 85 minutes

A retired police officer, despondent over the loss of his family, contemplates a dramatic decision which will change his life forever. He then meets a mysterious woman who, through her personal stories, gives him a reason to re-examine what is most important to him.

Cast: Joey Lawrence, Catalina Rodriguez, Muse Watson, Christopher Michael


Swing Away – Director: Michael Achilles Nickles, Screenwriters: Paul Robert Lingas, Julia Wall Nickles (Greece/USA) World Premiere, 98 minutes

Following a meltdown on tour that results in her suspension, professional golfer Zoe Papadopoulos travels to her grandparents’ village in Greece for a much needed break. There Zoe rediscovers her Greek heritage, her love of the game, and her own hidden strength.

Cast: Shannon Elizabeth, John O’Hurley, Manos Gavras, Renos Haralambidis, Karl Theobald, Alexandros Mylonas, Olga Damani, Christos Sougaris, Viktoria Miller


Te Ata – Director: Nathan Frankowski, Screenwriters: Esther Luttrell, Jeannie Barbour (USA) World Premiere, 105 minutes

Based on a true story, Te Ata follows the life of Mary “Te Ata” Thompson Fisher, a young Chickasaw woman who is torn between the traditions of her family and her desire to become an actress in early 20th century America.

Cast: Q’orianka Kilcher, Graham Greene, Gil Birmingham, Mackenzie Astin, Brigid Brannagh, Cindy Pickett


The Mad Ones – Director/Screenwriter: Aniruddh Pandit (USA) World Premiere, 92 minutes

Three twenty-something professionals search for meaning in life and work in the digital age. In a world that won’t stop changing, Ricky, Claire and Nitin uncover the only constants of life: love and friendship.

Cast: Anthony Gioe, Dana DeLorenzo, Lavrenti Lopes


Wild Prairie Rose – Director: Deborah LaVine, Screenwriter: Sharon Greene (USA) World Premiere, 90 minutes

Rose returns to her small town to care for her ailing mother. Once there, she falls in love with a deaf man and must decide if she has the courage to follow her heart.

Cast: Tara Samuel, Troy Kotsur, Suanne Spoke, Courtney Jones


The films selected for the Documentary Competition are:


A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers – Directors: Geeta Gandbhir, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. (USA/Pakistan) 90 minutes

One hundred and sixty women leave their families in Bangladesh for one year to join the United Nations Stabilising Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). They form one of the world’s first all female, predominantly Muslim peacekeeping units, shattering every stereotype the world holds about the capabilities of Muslim women.


An Act of Love – Director: Scott Sheppard. (USA) 86 minutes

In 2013, Rev. Frank Schaefer gained national attention for officiating his son’s same-sex wedding. The Schaefer family was drawn into a movement for LGBTQ equality in the nation’s second largest protestant denomination.


Best and Most Beautiful Things Director: Garrett Zevgetis. (USA) 90 minutes

In a celebration of outcasts everywhere, a precocious young blind woman disappears into quirky obsessions and isolation. With humor and bold curiosity, she chases love and freedom in the most unexpected of places: a provocative fringe community.


Citizen Soldier – Directors: Christian Tureaud, David Salzberg. (Afghanistan/USA) World Premiere, 95 minutes

This is the story of the the Oklahoma 45th National Guard Brigade, better known as the “Thunderbirds.” …one day working a normal 9 to 5 job, the next day fighting America’s wars on the front lines, building global partnerships when asked, and protecting the homeland at all costs.


Driving with Selvi – Director: Elisa Paloschi. (Canada) 74 minutes

Selvi is a former child bride who escaped to become South India’s first female taxi driver. This is the journey of a charming, strong, and courageous young woman who defies all expectations, moving beyond the pain she’s experienced to create a new life.


Floyd Norman: An Animated Life – Directors: Erik Sharkey, Michael Fiore. (USA) 94 minutes

Animator. Storyman. Troublemaker.  At 80 years old, see how this Disney Legend, the first African-American animator at Disney, continues to impact animation and stir up his own brand of “trouble.”


Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise – Directors: Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack. (USA) 114 minutes

Iconic writer, poet, performer, and activist Maya Angelou overcame the Jim Crow South and devastating abuse to become one of our culture’s greatest voices. Rare footage and never-before-seen photos unveil a public and personal life that intersected with some of the most profound moments in recent American history.


Newtown – Director: Kim A Snyder. (USA) 83 minutes

This film traces the aftermath of the worst mass shooting of school children in American history. This is a portrait of traumatized community, weaving an intimate story of resilience and their new sense of purpose in the face of unimaginable loss.


Raising Bertie – Director: Margaret Byrne. (USA) 102 minutes

Through the intimate portrayal of three boys in Bertie County, NC, this starkly poetic film offers a rare in-depth look at the issues facing America’s rural youth and the complex relationships between generational poverty, educational equity, and race. The evocative result is an experience that encourages us to recognize the value and complexity in lives all too often ignored


She Started It – Directors: Nora Poggi, Insiyah Saeed. (USA) 84 minutes

Despite estimates that less than ten percent of all tech start-ups are founded by women, we follow five young women entrepreneurs who set out to build their own business in a male dominated field who will stop at nothing to pursue their dreams.


Tested – Director: Curtis Chin. (USA) 73 minutes

A diverse group of 8th graders in New York City vie for a coveted spot in one of the city’s elite public schools by taking a single standardized test.


The Founders – Directors: Charlie Fisk, Carrie Schrader. (USA) 88 minutes

In 1950, thirteen women defied convention and created the Ladies Professional Golf Association. They forged a path for future women athletes to be celebrated and taken seriously. Set against the timeless beauty of the golf course, the four remaining pioneers reminisce about the journey, the struggle and the game itself.


The Good Breast – Director: Bernadette Wegenstein. (USA/Italy) World Premiere, 95 minutes

Four women and their surgeon share their diverse and emotional journeys as they face the challenges of breast cancer.  Their experiences reveal how the breast is far more than just an organ, but contains within it all the history, suffering, and power of female identity.


The Incomparable Rose Hartman – Director: Otis Mass. (USA) 71 minutes

With a career spanning decades, photographer Rose Hartman is known for her iconic photos from Studio 54, her boisterous personality and presence capturing the New York social scene.  Her work will draw you in, the film will make you understand this force of nature.


The Three Hikers – Director: Natalie Avital. (USA) 97 minutes

In 2009, when three American hikers mistakenly wandered off the beaten path near Iraq’s poorly marked border with Iran, they quickly experienced the consequences of their error. This gripping chronicle of the ensuing two-year prison ordeal sheds new light on the delicate diplomacy behind the trio’s release.


Waiting for B – Directors: Abigail Spindel, Paulo Cesar Toledo. (Brazil) US Premiere, 71 minutes

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, a group of Beyoncé fans camped out for two months to be the first in line for her 2013 concert. This film is an intimate portrait of the fans and their day-to-day lives in camp and off.