The Bentonville Film Festival is set to honor shake-up-the-status-quo producer Effie Brown (Dear White People, Real Women Have Curves) with the Rising to the Challenge Award and Queer as Folk star Fin Argus with the Rising Star Award.

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. 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 entertainment and media industry.

In addition, the BFFoundation unveiled this year’s special presentations lineup, including awards, panels and events for the 8th annual Bentonville Film Festival.

Alongside other fan favorites, Bentonville Film Festival will return with Geena & Friends, where Geena Davis and renowned guests re-cast memorable male-dominated movie scenes with characters who are women or gender non-conforming.

BFF also 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.

“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,” said Davis, Bentonville Film Festival Chair.

“At the heart of BFF is the belief in coming together to recognize and award exceptional talent. It is my honor to welcome these leaders to our festival who are making impactful change in the industry,” said Wendy Guerrero, President of Bentonville Film Festival and Foundation. “Each Award recipient is striving to influence the entertainment industry, in their own ways. We are truly ecstatic to have such leaders join our community.”

Read the presentation for this year’s fest below.


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, that 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 alumni with his feature film FIND ME.


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.


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.

Panelists: 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, 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 panelist.

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


Cherokee Film Office: Native Filmmaking Panel & Mixer
A casual conversation at Festival Headquarters celebrating the native films in the BFF 2022 Program line up. 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 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)

For more information visit the Bentonville Film Festival Foundation.