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Effie Brown and Fin Argus honored at Bentonville Film Festival
Effie Brown and Fin Argus honored at Geena Davis’ 8th Annual Bentonville Film Festival

Bentonville Film Festival unveiled the special presentations lineup, including panels, events and awards for the upcoming 8th annual edition, including the Rising to the Challenge Award for Effie Brown and the Rising Star Award for Fin Argus.

Bentonville Film Festival will return with Geena & Friends, the tradition in which Geena Davis and renowned guests re-cast memorable male-dominated movie scenes with characters who are women or gender non-conforming. Additionally, BFF will host a special presentation of Where the Crawdads Sing, directly followed by a conversation with the film’s director Olivia Newman, 3000 Pictures’ President Elizabeth Gabler and novel author Delia Owens, as well as a 10th Anniversary screening of Hunger Games, proceeded by a conversation with Geena Davis and Hunger Games producer, Nina Jacobson.

Mars Wrigley Mainstage Panel series will include conversations that unpack the latest insights in branded media, why body size representation matters on screen, and the importance of amplifying women-driven content.

“We are so excited to bring our incredible community together again to participate in the bold and vital work that makes BFF unique – elevating the voices of very diverse and intersectional storytellers, all with a true festival spirit,” stated Geena Davis, Bentonville Film Festival Chair.

The following are special presentations at the 2022 Bentonville Film Festival:

AWARDS

Rising to the Challenge Award Recipient Effie Brown:

The Rising to the Challenge Award honors an artist who has shown true impact and success supporting indie film projects, both on and off screen.

Effie Brown, Producer

Longtime advocate and prominent voice for diversity and inclusion within the film industry, Effie T. Brown is CEO and majority owner of Gamechanger Films. Gamechanger Films is a production, development, and financing company dedicated to content by and about women, people of color, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities. As CEO of Gamechanger Films, Effie produces authentically inclusive content with the core mission: YOU CAN’T MAKE SOMETHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US. Prior to joining Gamechanger, Effie produced Real Women Have Curves (directed by Patricia Cardosa), Dear White People (2015 Indie Spirit Awards Best First Screenplay), HBO’s Project Greenlight, and served as an executive producer on Lee Daniels’ Star on FOX and Disney Channel’s Zombies. Effie’s recent projects include co-financing Rebecca Hall’s Passing, starring Oscar nominee Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson, which premiered to rave reviews at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and sold to Netflix for nearly $16 million. We are currently in post-production for The Inspection with A24, starring Gabrielle Union and Jeremy Pope, based on the life of writer/director and Marine Corps veteran Elegance Bratton. Also in post is Stranger With a Camera, Oscar-winning producer Oorlagh George’s debut feature. Upcoming projects include A Fashion Tale, a four-part Disney+/ Vice docu-series on how Disney media has influenced fashion and culture, with Gwen Stefani attached to host. Also in the pipeline is the thriller Pale Horse, which will be Academy Award winner Gabby Sidibe’s directorial debut, Sorcerority, starring and co-produced by Taraji P Henson & Gabrielle Union, and HAANT, a horror feature rooted in Gullah – Geechee culture which we will be shooting this year. As an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Brown serves as the Chair of the Academy Museum Inclusion Advisory Committee and is also a Board Member for the Museum, in addition to her position on the Producers Branch Executive Committee. Brown’s dream is to change the world through film and TV – celebrating our differences while bringing us all closer together.

Rising Star Award Recipient Fin Argus:

The Rising Star Award honors an artist – on or off-screen – who has shown truly outstanding talent and has captured the attention of both the public and the entertainment and media industry.

Fin Argus, Actor

One of Hollywood’s rising stars, Fin Argus is a true multi-hyphenate who continues to showcase their versatility as an actor, singer, and songwriter. Argus can currently be seen in Peacock’s reboot of the iconic series “Queer as Folk.” In the series, Argus plays Mingus, a 17-year-old high school student, skateboarder, and aspiring drag performer raised by a supportive single mother (Juliette Lewis). They will next be seen in the feature film STAY AWAKE, starring Chrissy Metz. In 2021, Argus starred alongside Sabrina Carpenter in the biopic CLOUDS, directed by Justin Baldoni, which premiered on Disney+. Based on a true story, Argus portrays Zach Sobiech, a young man battling osteosarcoma (a form of cancer), who goes on to share his gift of music by becoming the first unsigned artist to ever have a single hit #1 on the iTunes Top 100 with his song “Clouds.” Argus also co-wrote and performed “My Little Dancer” which was featured in the film. A multi-instrumentalist, Argus plays 9 different instruments: guitar, piano, ukulele, cello, French horn, bass, mandolin, banjo and percussion. Their passion for music led them to release their debut EP titled Lost at Sea in 2017. Argus will next release their second EP entitled Exposure. Argus’ other credits include THE GIFTED (Fox) and a leading role on Awesomeness TV’s popular YouTube series THE COMMUTE. A Chicago native, Argus currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

GRANTS

BFF M&M’S® For All Funkind Grant

Mars Wrigley has announced a mentorship opportunity through the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) to support up-and-coming, underrepresented diverse filmmakers and content creators. Through a multi-year partnership with Bentonville Film Festival, Mars Wrigley is dedicated to creating more inclusive entertainment and better moments by helping support a wide range of underrepresented storytellers, including BIPOC, people with a disability and people from the LGBTQIA+ communities. With this grant and mentorship, Mars Wrigley – with one of our largest global brands – M&M’S is working to help diverse content creators overcome barriers with funding and hands-on experience to create a world where the next generation of fans and creators feels they belong. The grant is part of a movement M&M’S to remind people everywhere that despite our differences, we all belong to a community of humans that have one simple and powerful thing in common: fun. The mentorship includes a $20,000 grant, plus the opportunity to work with the M&M’S® team on a project for the iconic brand, focused on championing fun to help everyone feel included.

Will be awarded to Sofia Garza-Barba, 2021 Short Film Alumni (SOY UN VAMPIRO) at the 2022 festival.

NBC Universal Filmmaker Grant

Will be awarded to Tom Huang, BFF Alumni at the 2022 Bentonville Film Festival Awards Bash for his film Dealing With Dad, which recently premiered at the Cleveland International Film Festival. This will be the second recipient of this grant through BFFoundation.

Tom Huang is a 2018 festival alumnus with his feature film FIND ME.

EVENTS

Geena & Friends

At this annual event, Academy Award Winning Actor Geena Davis along with an all-star group of equally brilliant actors will reimagine memorable dialogue from movie scenes with a male-dominated cast through a woman’s lens. A fun and poignant way to explore how refreshing it can be to expand our vision of who can be cast in roles originally written for men.

Participants: Geena Davis (Academy Award Winner, GDI Founder & BFF Chair), Chelsea Javier (BFF World Premiere, Smile or Hug), Ashlie Atkinson (BFF Panel, Fat in Front of the Camera, The Gilded Age), Angela Sarafyan (Westworld, American Horror Story), Brianne Howey (Ginny & Georgia), Yolanda Ross (BFF Narrative Juror, The Chi)

Hunger Games 10th Anniversary Screening and Conversation

Celebration of the Hunger Games 10th anniversary at the Geena Davis Outdoor Theatre at the Momentary. With activities, all day long and the screening and conversation streamed at 7 pm on Friday, June 24.

Participants: Geena Davis (Academy Award Winner, GDI Founder & BFF Chair), Nina Jacobson (Founder and President, Color Force)
Moderator: Perri Nemiroff (Journalist, Collider)

Cinema Talks with Sony Pictures / 3000 Pictures: Where the Crawdads Sing

We will be screening a preview of WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING that will be followed by a conversation with Author, Delia Owens, Director, Olivia Newman and President of 3000 Pictures, Elizabeth Gabler.
Moderator: Perri Nemiroff (Journalist, Collider)

Alumni Spotlight: Dealing with Dad Directed and Written by Tom Huang

Dealing With Dad U.S.A (Directed and Written by Tom Huang, Executive Produced by Effie Brown and Howard Barish)

Margaret Chang is rocked from her perfect alpha-mom-corporate-manager life when she has to go back to her hometown to deal with her overbearing dad, Jialuo. Her dad is kind of an outspoken jerk but is now despondent and won’t leave the house. Since she can’t deal with her parents by herself, she drags along her older sad-sack brother, Roy, to help her. When they arrive at their childhood home, they discover that their mom Sophie (equally overbearing) and youngest angry comic book nerd brother Larry (still living with parents) are happy with this situation…as it turns out, their dad is much more pleasantly depressed than well. The siblings struggle to deal with his depression and wonder if it’s even worth getting him better. In the meantime, they reconnect as a family by bickering and reminiscing about the bad times with Dad, discovering that their familial bond is stronger than they ever realized.

PANELS

Reel Magic Mornings with Dave and Jenny Marrs of Fixer to Fabulous

Kicking off the Coca-Cola Reel Magic Mornings Series, we will host a discussion with home renovators Dave and Jenny Marrs, who bring old houses back to life in HGTV’s Fixer to Fabulous. With a little love and a lot of talent, the husband-wife duo restore timeworn homes into contemporary living spaces in their hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas.

Reel Magic Mornings with Dave and Jenny Marrs of Fixer to Fabulous

Kicking off the Coca-Cola Reel Magic Mornings Series, we will host a discussion with home renovators Dave and Jenny Marrs, who bring old houses back to life in HGTV’s Fixer to Fabulous. With a little love and a lot of talent, the husband-wife duo restore timeworn homes into contemporary living spaces in their hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas.

Reel Magic Mornings – From the Bronx to Bentonville: A Conversation with the Team Behind Alma’s Way

Featuring Sonia Manzano

Alma’s Way follows 6-year-old Alma Rivera, a proud, confident Puerto Rican girl who lives in the Bronx with her family as well as a diverse group of close-knit and loving friends, family, and community members. Alma models self-awareness, responsible decision-making, and empathy, while encouraging kids to generate and value their own ideas and questions. Join Sonia Manzano(Creator and Executive Producer), Ellen Doherty (Executive Producer), and Olubunmi Mia Olufemi (Supervising Producer) for a screening and panel discussion about the making of the critically acclaimed animated series from Fred Rogers Productions on PBS KIDS.

In the Sun Screening and Panel presented by Neutrogena

From Executive Producer Kerry Washington, “In the Sun” is a poignant and inspiring documentary that lets viewers in on the personal skin health journeys of seven families facing extraordinary circumstances as they uncover the long-term effects of living in the sun. The film introduces us to Dr. Shirley Chi, a dermatologist on a mission to educate and treat patients, while highlighting simple, but safe, ways to enjoy the beauty of sunshine.

Panellists: Filmmakers, Monique Mack and Kelsey Laroche and film subject Dr Shirley Chi will have a live discussion and Q&A following the short film screening.

MAINSTAGE PANELS Presented by Mars Wrigley

Purpose Drive Progress Panel

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. Join us for a dialogue with brand leaders on how they have implemented corporate initiatives to amplify social issues through their channels and the impact their campaigns have made in different communities.

Speakers: Jane Hwang (Vice President of Global Marketing, M&M’S), Dagmar Boggs (Chief Customer Officer at The Coca-Cola Company), Monica Gil (EVP, Chief Administrative and Marketing Officer for Telemundo)
Moderator: Craig Robinson (EVP, Chief Diversity Officer, NBCUniversal, Inc.)

Fat in Front of the Camera: Why it Matters Panel

Plus-size characters are often portrayed as immoral, insatiable, unlovable, and unidimensional.

What needs to change about the way we as storytellers think about bodies? Join this panel for a lively discussion where you’ll learn what fatphobia is, innovations in representation since the advent of the Body Positivity and Fat Activism movements, and what’s possible for the future of plus-size representation on screen.

Speakers: Ashlie Atkinson (actress: The Gilded Age, Mr Robot, Blackkklansman) Joy Nash (actress: Dietland, Twin Peaks, Grey’s Anatomy), Jackie Schwartz (VP of Operations & Development at Besties Make Movies, Writer, Body Positive Activist), Virgie Tovar (Contributor for Forbes.com, author of You Have the Right to Remain Fat and The Body Positive Journal)
Moderator: Elizabeth Kilpatrick, Sr. Vice President, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

If She Can See It, She Can Be It Panel

A showcase of actors, content creators, and entertainment executives who have successfully created or worked with female-driven content. The annual panel is moderated by Madeline Di Nonno, President & CEO of the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media, and has Academy Award winner and BFF Festival Chair, Geena Davis as a panellist.

Speakers: Geena Davis (Academy Award Winner, GDI Founder & BFF Chair), Sonia Manzano (Actor, Author & Speaker)
Moderator: Madeline Di Nonno (President & CEO, GDI)

HEADQUARTERS TAKEOVER EVENTS

Cherokee Film Office: Native Filmmaking Panel & Mixer

A casual conversation at Festival Headquarters celebrating the native films in the BFF 2022 Program lineup. This conversation will be followed by a mixer. This takeover is in partnership with the Cherokee Film Office and Cherokee Casino.

Team Fempower: Empowering Women In Web3

The entertainment industry has a growing interest in exploring new funding models with Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Let’s talk about it! Join filmmakers, content creators, NFT entrepreneurs, and celebrities who will bring a dynamic discussion about NFTs to the film industry at the 2022 Bentonville Film Festival, where its host region is the global headquarters of the nation’s largest retailer and one of the newest urban hotspots for entrepreneurs and professionals to live and work.

Participants: Jordan Baynes, Diana Zollicoffer, Brooke Lacey, Winnie Kemp
Moderators: Manouschka Guerrier (Personal Chef / CEO at Single Serving)

No Crying In NFT’s: Workshop

A private workshop for filmmakers and the invited industry will give guests a discounted rate to get a wallet with the help of NFT experts that have created a seismic change in the crypto-verse for women. There will also be the opportunity to create a private mint and will be followed by an exclusive conversation with filmmakers in the industry using crypto to fund films that may.

Participants: Jordan Bayne (Filmmaker & NFT Expert), Winnie Kemp (NFT Expert)

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