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The Bentonville Film Festival 2020 Selects It's Winners

Written by: Nikoleta Morales

The Bentonville Film Festival took place August 10-16 as a hybrid model that featured digital screenings, panels and events alongside select on-the-ground premieres and conversations. This year the festival had a variety of films with topics ranging from diversity, inclusion, women empowerment and racism issues. There were 80 percent female directors, and 65 percent BIPOC and 45 percent LGBTQIA filmmakers.

In regards to her festival, co-founder and actres Geena Davis says: “BFF’s mission to foster diversity and inclusion across the media landscape stands more important now than ever before as we continue to support filmmakers in a new and creative way. Within the context of a pandemic, and the continued fight for social justice, we renew our deep commitment to underrepresented storytellers. This year’s virtual structure presents a unique opportunity that is not lost on us as we use the power of the digital world to share BFF’s messaging to far-reaching global audiences, arguably more than we ever have.”

The festival just announced its winners in partnership with founding sponsor Walmart and presenting sponsor Coca-Cola:

Jury Award Winners: Narrative Film Award: LINGUA FRANCA, Director: Isabel Sandoval Documentary Film Award: THE DONUT KING, Director: Alice Gu Short Film Narrative Award: BROKEN BIRD, Director: Rachel Harrison Gordon Short Film Documentary Award: AVA & BIANCA, Director: Rachel Fleit Episodic Narrative Award: LADY LIBERTY, Director: Taylor Lee Nagel Episodic Documentary Award: IMMIGRANT VOICES OF AMERICA, Director: Miguel Angel Duran

Special Recognition Awards: Best First Feature, Narrative: FAREWELL, Director: Chris Chalk Best Performance, Narrative: TAKE OUT GIRL, Director: Hissoni Johnson, Actor: Hedy Wong Best Editing, Documentary: MY DARLING, VIVIAN, Director: Matt Riddlehoover

Our top films from the festival this year were “Misbehaviour” (Spotlight Feature), “Coming Clean” (Documentary Feature) and “The Skin” (Narrative Feature). “Misbehaviour” was an excellent film based on true events in regards to the 1970 Miss World competition when Miss Grenada was crowned as the first black woman queen in history, while at the same time the pageant was clashing with the Women Liberation Movement. The movie was directed by Philippa Lowthorpe and features top cast like Keira Knightley and Greg Kinnear. “Coming Clean” was an excellent documentary about the opioid crisis in America and it opens the doors for real discussion on how to solve the problem as we see it through the eyes of several drug addict survivors. It was directed by Ondi Timoner. “The Skin” is an emotional and authentic film about keeping it together when you are falling apart and is based on Ahamefule Oluo's true story as he struggles to find his way through his life. It is directed by Charles Mudede.

In addition to films, the festival had excellent panels such as “What’s Your Story” where the panelists discussed the importance of telling one’s true and authentic story, “Advancing LatinX Presentation,” “Building Bridges and Bands,” “ If She Can See It, She Can Be It,” “Power of Media for Social Change,” “Flipping the Script,” and Geena Davis’ “The Best of Geena and Friend,” in addition to others.

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