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Bentonville Film Festival Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary With Renewed Purpose

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Brent Simon As festivals have increasingly endeavored to showcase more diverse talent, benchmarks of inclusivity occasionally run the risk of feeling like a dutiful checklist.

The Bentonville Film Festival, though, has celebrated — and elevated — underrepresented voices since its inception. Returning for its 10th edition from June 10-16, the northwest Arkansas festival has always taken as its mission statement the centering of work from not only LGBTQ+ and BIPOC creators but also other historically marginalized groups.

That focus shouldn’t be surprising, given that the festival’s roots stretch back to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a nonprofit research organization the actor founded after noticing the disparity in female characters while watching TV series and movies with her daughter.

While co-founder Davis remains Bentonville Film Festival’s chair, president Wendy Guerrero and artistic director Drea Clark, with a combined 19 years of experience with the festival, provide stability and steerage. “The amplification and representation of intersectionality onscreen and behind the camera is important to how we value ourselves and see ourselves reflected in society,” says Guerrero, whose multiracial upbringing and background in performance (she began her career as an actor, and later co-founded a production company, Publicly Private, with Bruce Dern) helped her develop a deep connection to Bentonville’s mission.

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