The Bentonville Film Festival (BFF), started by actress Geena Davis, will be hosting only women and minority filmmakers on its screens. The festival also doubles as a competition, and is currently the only one of its kind in the world. Whichever films win over the Audience, Jury Selection, and Best Family Film awards is guaranteed theatrical distribution in at the very least 25 AMC theaters. Around 75 films will be aired at the competition.
Davis is hoping that with such great prizes and such an awesome venue to showcase female talent, the industry will realize how valuable women and minority input and involvement are to movies.
Eight shocking stats that prove this film festival is important:
- Women accounted for 10% of writers, 15% of executive producers, 17% of editors, 3% of cinematographers, and 25% of producers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2013.
- Only 6% of directors for the top 250 films of 2013 were women.
- 36% of films employed 0 or 1 woman in acting roles, while only 2% had 10 to 13 women. (For comparison, 1% of films employed 0 or 1 man in the roles considered, and 32% had 10-13 men.)
- Women support women; women directors and producers boast more diverse movies. There is a 21% increase in women working on a narrative film when there is a female director and a 24% increase of women working on documentaries.
- While 78% of clear protagonists of the top 100 films of 2011 were male, only 11% are women.
- Only four women have ever been nominated for the Academy Award for best director, and only one of them has won.
- In the top 500 films between 2007 and 2012, only 30.8% of the speaking characters were women (and this isn’t even taking into account if these movies passed the Bechdel test).
- The percentage of women as directors, writers, and editors of the top 250 films actually dropped between 2012 and 2013, proving that this is not a quick-fix issue but one that must be constantly cultivated and examined.
Davis has been critiqued for joining with Walmart to put on this event because of their history with being discriminatory to women and minorities, the very people the BFF is meant to bolster.
However, are the huge gains this festival may bring automatically nullified by who they’re sponsored by? The money for such a large production must come from somewhere, especially when most women in the film industry find that funding is their most prevalent problem. The issue there is that producers have proven to have less faith in women’s visions and directing. However, this film festival is looking to squash that preconceived idea and open up doors for female directors (and by proxy, female actresses).
Here is a list of movies directed by women in 2014!
Let’s hope the list is longer this year.