With Bentonville’s biggest “hometown company” being none other than Walmart Stores, Inc., our town plays host to droves of business people every week selling products and services. And because Walmart is the largest seller of goods in many consumer industries – including the entertainment industry – it should come as no surprise that from time to time, some of the business people visiting are pretty famous and influential.
You never know who you’ll run into on the Square or at Crystal Bridges or at the Walmart Home Office. Celebrities like Tom Cruise and Harry Connick, Jr., dining at Tavola Trattoria (it happened, I swear!) George W. Bush riding the mountain bike trails (I kid you not. Saw it with my own eyes.) Drew Barrymore promoting her Walmart-exclusive makeup line “Flower”. Famous musicians, athletes, business icons, world leaders, philanthropists, politicians … the list of names and causes who’ve visited our town is endless.
In May, (May 3-8, to be exact), Bentonville will host more notable personalities than normal as they serve as judges, panelists, speakers and hosts for the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF). Geena Davis is the co-chair of the event, and she brings friends and colleagues along with her to promote the festival. Last year attendees had the opportunity to hear Geena, Rosie O’Donnell, Robert De Niro, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Soldedad O’Brien, and plenty of other famous faces in film and media speak.
WAY beyond just a place for celebrities to converge, BFF promotes a worthy cause. Its mission is to champion women and diverse voices in media. The festival is intended to bring together filmmakers and media content creators to influence media in depicting a range of gender and diversity.
In order to qualify for BFF, film submissions must meet at least two of the following criteria: the film must have a female or diverse director, producer, writer or lead character, or that at least half of the cast, crew or extras are either female or diverse (or both!).
And the other really, really awesome thing about it — the winning films are automatically guaranteed distribution, which could include a theatrical release via AMC theaters, television release via STARZ and Lifetime, and digital and retail home entertainment distribution in partnership with Walmart.
This year all of the film screenings are rumored to be in the downtown area, which we’re really excited about. More details about the schedule and venues to come as soon as its been released!
BFF is just one of several events we can count on to be fun, entertaining and educational this year.
In fact, be on the lookout for more exciting events in the area in 2016. Coming November 10-12, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) will be hosting its World Mountain Bike Summit in Bentonville! According to their website, the World Summit program “includes keynote speakers, educational sessions, an expo, networking and—of course—plenty of time to explore local trails.”
More to come on that, too.
Until next time …