Bentonville Film Festival Foundation and The Coca-Cola Foundation “See It, Be It Filmmaker Fellowship”
Bentonville Film Festival Foundation and The Coca-Cola Foundation “See It, Be It Filmmaker Fellowship” | Top left to right: Jenna Laurenzo, Dawn Valadez, Amber McGinnis, Diane Paragas, Emily Ting, Fanny Veliz, McKenzie Chinn, Ursula Taherian. All images courtesy of the Bentonville Film Festival Foundation

The Bentonville Film Festival Foundation and The Coca-Cola Foundation announced the “See It, Be It Filmmaker Fellowship,” an annual fellowship designed to offer expansive developmental support for filmmakers from historically underrepresented communities. Eight Bentonville Film Festival Alumni have been selected for the inaugural program, which will include professional support from peers, entertainment industry leaders and major corporate changemakers, in addition to financial backing.

“The See It, Be It Filmmaker Fellowship was born from the belief that major change will occur only when passion has the opportunity to align with both platform and purpose,” said Wendy Guerrero, President of Programming for the Bentonville Film Festival.“With this fellowship, we aim to further opportunities for storytellers to achieve success by opening ports of access historically closed to women, people with disabilities, people of color and the LGBTQ+ communities. This cohort of filmmakers has been selected because of their distinct voices and because they are ready to take the next steps in shaping their own narratives.”

“When the images we see in our daily lives don’t reflect the real world, a powerful and unconscious bias is perpetuated. Together with The Coca Cola Foundation, the Bentonville Film Festival Foundation is proud to accelerate change by amplifying intersectional female voices, addressing pipeline issues and providing support that is both creative and financial.” said Geena Davis, co-founder and chair of the Bentonville Film Festival and founder of Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

“We are committed to helping women thrive in business,” said Helen Smith Price, President, The Coca-Cola Foundation. “Through our support of the See It, Be It Filmmaker Fellowship, eight female filmmakers from underrepresented communities working across documentary and narrative feature filmmaking will be selected, developed and supported for success. By funding this program we are empowering women filmmakers to shape the images we see in film every day.”

The 2020 fellows are Amber McGinnis (International Falls), McKenzie Chinn (Olympia), Emily Ting (Go Back To China), Dawn Valadez (The Pushouts), Jenna Laurenzo (Lez Bomb), Ursula Taherian (The Brownlist), Fanny Veliz (Our Quinceanera) and Diane Paragas (Yellow Rose). The filmmakers will be recognized at the 2020 Bentonville Film Festival, April 29-May 2, in Bentonville Arkansas, and throughout the year at the BFF Monday Movie program with Visit Bentonville.

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