Bentonville Film Festival announces LGBTQ-inclusive 2019 lineup

The Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) has announced its 2019 line up of gala selections and competition films, with several LGBTQ-inclusive titles amongst the entries. On May 7-11, Bentonville Film Festival will celebrate five years of elevating diverse voices in all facets of entertainment and media, partnering with Walmart and Coca-Cola. This year the BFF selections are 81% female-directed, and 68% of the selections have a director and/or lead of color.

Co-founder Geena Davis said, “This year’s lineup of films truly exemplifies our mission… Offering opportunities for each one of us to see a reflection of ourselves onscreen is such an essential step to help [these creators] build their careers and ensure that we can all see entertainment options that match the diversity we see in our day-to-day lives.”

The festival will open with a special screening of “This Changes Everything,” a documentary directed by Tom Donahue (“Casting By”) that explores the insidious and systemic sexism in Hollywood through the voices of marquee celebrities. Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Sandra Oh, Jessica Chastain, and many other ambassadors of the #TimesUp movement take an incisive look into the history, empirical evidence, and systemic forces that foster gender discrimination and thus reinforce disparity in our culture.

Below is a list of all the inclusive projects screening at BFF. For more information about the festival, visit bentonvillefilmfestival.com.

CENTERPIECE SCREENING SELECTIONS

Carol of the Bells (dir. Joey Travolta, USA) A young man with a troubled past seeks out his biological mother. However, his world is turned upside down upon discovering that she is developmentally disabled. Unable to work through this new discovery on his own, the man’s wife takes matters into his own hands forcing her husband to face the truth and heal the past. World Premiere.

Once Upon A River (dir. Haroula Rose, USA) In 1978 rural Michigan, Native American teen Margo Crane's actions tragically result in her father’s murder, sending her on the run. World Premiere.

Freak Show

SPOTLIGHT SELECTIONS

Brian Banks (dir. Tom Shadyck, USA) An All-American football player's dreams to play in the NFL are halted when he is falsely accused of rape and sent to prison.

Freak Show (dir. Trudie Styler, USA) Film follows the story of teenager Billy Bloom who, despite attending an ultra conservative high school, makes the decision to run for homecoming queen.

We Have Always Lived In the Castle (dir. Stacie Passon, USA) Merricat, Constance and their Uncle Julian live in isolation after experiencing a family tragedy six years earlier. When cousin Charles arrives to steal the family fortune, he also threatens a dark secret they've been hiding.

Wild Rose (dir. Tom Harper, UK/USA) A musician from Glasgow dreams of becoming a Nashville star.

The Garden Left Behind
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION

Being Frank (dir. Miranda Bailey, USA) A seventeen-year-old boy blackmails his father after discovering his secret second family.

Colewell (dir. Tom Quinn, USA) For thirty-five years, Nora has been the postmaster of Colewell, Penn. When Nora receives word that her office will be closed, she must decide whether to relocate and take a new job or face retirement in Colewell.

The Garden Left Behind (dir. Flavio Alves, USA) Tina, a young transwoman, and Eliana, her grandmother, as they navigate Tina's transition and struggle to build a life for themselves as undocumented immigrants in New York City.

Go Back To China (dir. Emily Ting, USA/China) After a spoiled rich girl blows through half of her trust fund, she is cut off by her father and forced to go back to China and work for the family toy business.

The Grizzlies (dir. Miranda de Pencier, Canada) In this inspiring true story, a group of Inuit students in a small, struggling Arctic community are changed forever through the transformative power of sport.

International Falls (dir. Amber McGinnis, USA) A burned out touring comedian and a local mom who dreams of a career in stand up, become unlikely friends.

Olympia (dir. Gregory Dixon, USA) Black artist turning 30 is dealing with her relationship, her ailing mother, and her career aspirations.

Olympic Dreams (dir. Jeremy Teichner, USA) In the Olympic Athlete Village, a young cross-country skier bonds with a volunteer doctor after a disappointing finish in her competition.

Saint Frances (dir. Alex Johnson, USA) A coming-of-age dramedy about a young girl and her thirty-something nanny over the course of an eventful summer.

The Short History of the Long Road (dir. Ani Simon-Kennedy, USA) When teenage Nola suddenly loses her father while living on the road, she is forced to take the wheel for the first time - learning to own her grief, her past, and her new destination.

Simple Wedding (dir. Sara Zandieh, USA) A young Iranian-American woman goes to great lengths to appease her parents and their need to see her settled down.

Solace (dir. Tchaiko Omawale, USA) A black teenage girl moves in with her grandmother and works to get an art fellowship so she can move home, while also dealing with her eating disorder.

Vandal (dir. Jose Daniel Freixas, USA) The young leader of a legendary Miami graffiti crew comes of age while battling a longtime rival.

Yellow Rose (dir. Diana Paragas, USA) A headstrong undocumented Filipino girl's secret dreams of being a country musician are shattered when she witnesses her mother getting picked up by Immigration Authorities in their small Texas town.

We Are Radical Monarchs
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

Always in Season (dir. Jaqueline Olive, USA) When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins while the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present.

Any One Of Us (dir. Fernando Villena, USA) Through the inspiring journey of a recovering athlete, “Any One Of Us” offers an unprecedented glimpse into the world of spinal cord injuries.

Bamboo and Barbed Wire (dir. Katen Day, USA/Japan) “Bamboo and Barbed Wire” focuses on stories of Japanese-Americans interned at MINIDOKA, interviewing remaining survivors, their families and bringing to life their personal sacrifices, losses and grace under pressure. World Premiere.

Care to Laugh (dir. Julie Getz, USA) The film profiles stand up comic, Jesus Trejo, who balances his comedy career while taking care of his parents. However, dual medical crises forces a major change in his approach to both his career and life in general. Like all comics, he uses adversity and his life experience as material for his routine.

Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl (dir. Amy Goldstein, USA) Kate Nash, punk renegade, TV wrestling queen, and DIY leader of an all-girl band forgoes money and fame to speak out about gender inequality in the music business and to embolden other young women to find their voice.

Our Quinceanera (dir. Fanny Veliz, USA) Through the power of community, young Latinas discover that any dream or aspiration is achievable.

Pahokee (dir. Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan, USA) Following four youth at a small Florida high school who are ascending heartbreak and relishing in the joyous senior year rituals and rites of passage that serve as their send-off from home.

The Pushouts (dir. Katie Galloway and Dawn Valdez, USA) Following a former gang member (now teacher), “The Pushouts” asks crucial questions of race, class, and power - exploring the promise and perils of education - at a particularly urgent time.

Queen of Paradis (dir. Carl Lindstrom, USA) After the success of artist Reine Paradis' breakout photo series 'Jungle', filmmaker Carl Lindstrom follows her on a surreal journey across the United States as she works to complete her highly anticipated second series 'Midnight'.

Same God (dir. Linda Midgett, USA) A Christian professor at an evangelical college's social media support of Muslim women sets off controversy.

Stuntwomen (dir. April Wright, USA) An action-documentary about the evolution of stuntwomen from “The Perils of Pauline” (1914) and beyond.

Thirst for Justice (dir. Leana Hosea, USA) In the Spring of 2015, residents in Flint, Michigan and Sanders, Arizona proved, despite official denial, that their water was dangerously contaminated. Now, Janene from the Navajo, African-American Flint activist Nayyirah, and blue-collar stay-at-home mom Christina are leading the fight for clean water. When they meet in Standing Rock at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, it sparks a realization that not only are the stakes nationwide, but the very future of democracy is threatened.

We Are Radical Monarchs (dir. Linda Goldstein Knowland, USA) “We Are Radical Monarchs” focuses on Oakland-based alternative to the Girl Scouts – specifically for girls of color, ages 8-13. The girls earn badges for units on social justice, such as Black Lives Matter, Radical Beauty, Disability Justice, and being an LGBTQ ally.

Well Groomed (dir. Rebecca Stern, USA) A year immersed in the visually stunning and humorous world of competitive creative dog groomers reveals that, no matter where or how, an innate passion for creative expression is universal.


FAMILY FILMS COMPETITION

Emmett (dir. Bridget Stokes, USA) Emmett, a 12-year-old black child prodigy, teams up with his eccentric SAT tutor to solve a crime and keep his family from splitting up.

Revival! (dir. Danny Green, USA) “Revival!” is hybrid of every film idiom: Broadway musical, Hollywood musical, animation, green screen technology, and sound stage. Revival is the hippest experience of The Gospel the world has yet seen.

Sweet Inspirations (dir. Brittany Yost, USA) Four middle-aged ladies discover purpose when they launch a unique fundraising effort to save a local women’s shelter from imminent foreclosure.

The World We Make (dir. Brian Baugh, USA) 18-year-old Lee (a spirited equestrian) and Jordan (an academic and football standout) are at the threshold of building a life together. But their character is tested when racial bias surfaces in their otherwise progressive small town.

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