It seems somebody didn’t get Russell Crowe’s memo that women face no barriers in Hollywood. Variety reports that Academy Award winner Geena Davis is launching the Bentonville Film Festival in order to showcase films made by women and people of color.
The festival’s intent is to “directly impact the quantity and quality of females and minorities on screen and behind the scenes,” Davis said in a press release. The actress, who founded the Geena Davis Institute On Gender In Media a decade ago, has long been an outspoken critic of sexism and racism in the entertainment industry. And the festival, scheduled to run from May 5-9 in Bentonville, Arkansas, is billing itself as the only film competition worldwide which will guarantee its Audience, Jury Selection, and Best Family Film winners distribution via theatrical, digital, TV, and retail releases.
Festival submissions must meet two of seven possible qualifications, which include having a female or minority lead actor, director, writer, production company, or a gender and diversity balanced cast or crew. “Family or shared viewing appropriate” is also a stated qualifying aspect for a film, but hey, these things don’t just underwrite themselves, and if that’s what it takes to get ARC Entertainment, Walmart, Coca-Cola, and AMC Theaters to sponsor this opportunity, so be it. (And yes, it’s happening in Bentonville because that’s where Walmart is based, but this seems like a good thing, so maybe let’s not bring up any issues with that company for the moment.)
The festival board includes Angela Bassett, Bruce Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, Randy Jackson, Eva Longoria, Julianne Moore, Paula Patton, Natalie Portman, Nina Tassler and Shailene Woodley. You can send your film in for consideration beginning January 15, with the announcement of accepted submissions scheduled for March.