Bentonville Film Fest Sets Panels Lineup; Diversity, Inclusion Prevalent In Discussion Topics
In this Aug. 18, 2017 photo, actress Geena Davis poses for a photo in New York. Davis is co-founder of the Bentonville Film Festival. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
  • BENTONVILLE, Arkansas
  • --

The Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) announced an ambitious lineup of filmmaker and film industry panels for this year’s edition of the popular film festival which runs May 1-6.
 
The filmmaker and film industry panels will feature attending actors, producers and directors, along with some of the leaders and brightest minds from forward-thinking companies and organizations, discussing issues and ideas focused on diversity, inclusion practices, and innovative and authentic perspectives that influence and shape our continually shifting world.
 
BFF co-founder and Inclusion Companies CEO Trevor Drinkwater, said, “One of the unique aspects of the Bentonville Film Festival is our focus on impacting the portrayal of diversity and inclusion in all forms of widely consumed media. The BFF Discussion events are designed to create dialogue and inspire action. This year we are incredibly excited to be joined by decision makers from all aspects of the media industry; creators, marketers and distributors, as well as the financiers and the advertisers who pay for the media the next generation of leaders consume. These industry leaders are speaking up because they are all committed to immediate action to assure the media they produce, market, distribute or support financially, inspires ALL young minds to do great things.”
 
Throughout the week discussion events are separated by tracks that include conversations on Content & Distribution, Images Matter, a Celebrity Series, and hosted Associate Resource Groups.  Panel topics will include such timely and important topics as; “Men as Allies: Being a Valuable and Effective Force Alongside Women Promoting Gender Balance,” “Strengthening Disability Inclusion in the World of Filmmaking, Storytelling and Beyond”, “The Social Responsibility of Business: Doing well by doing good, The Time is Now: How Can We Keep the Dialogue Going and Make Sure It Produces Results,” “Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, and Math (STEAM) Jobs are Gender Neutral,” and “A League of Their Own: Remarkable change happens when women are in the driver’s seat.”

The list of panel participants will include BFF co-founder and Academy Award® winner Geena Davis, Aisha Tyler (Archer), Alysia Reiner (Orange is the New Black), Lance Edward Nichols (Treme), Meghan Rienks (The Honor List), David Arquette (Survivor’s Guide To Prison), Kiersey Clemons (Hearts Beat Loud), Nic Novicki (Boardwalk Empire), Debbie Matenopoulos (lifestyle expert and co-host of Home & Family), producers Jaime Primak Sullivan (Breaking In) and Han Soto (A Tuba To Cuba), casting director Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd (Fruitvale Station), talent agent Gail Williamson, Victoria Arlen (ESPN host and personality), and Paralympians Katy Sullivan and Matt Stutzman (The Armless Archer - Paralympian - Guinness World Records holder).
 
They will join business, industry, and media heavy hitters like Coca-Cola chief diversity and inclusion officer Andrew Davis, Caterpillar president Michele L. Sullivan, UN special advisor Claudia Romo Edelman, NBCUniversal SVP and chief diversity officer Craig Robinson, Procter & Gamble VP Mindy Sherwood, AMC Theatres’ VP of special and alt content Nikkole Denson-Randolph, American Cinema International president Chevonne O’Shaughnessy ,and many others.
 
For more information and to purchase passes and tickets, please click here.

Here’s a rundown of the discussion lineup
 
 
2018 Bentonville Film Festival Panels and Discussions
 
WEDNESDAY, MAY 2
 
Men as Allies: Being A Valuable and Effective Force Alongside Women Promoting Gender Balance 

Associate Resource Group Hosted Event 
Presented by MARS
(9:00AM - 10:00AM) at Record North
Feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal opportunities. This panel will look at how men can be true allies in the effort to achieve gender equality in the workplace and all walks of life.
Moderator: Brickson Diamond (Big Answers, LLC)
With Jim Breach (Unilever), Mark Rahiya (Coca-Cola), Chris Mondzelewski (MARS)
 
Know Yourself: A Look at How Our Brains Process Bias Without Us Knowing
Content & Distribution 
Presented by MARS
(10:30AM - 11:30AM) at Record North
Understanding how the brain works can help us understand our own biases. Dr. Steve Robbins will set the tone for the week as he sheds light on how our brains work, and how that influences our perceptions of what we see and hear in our daily lives, helping us to lead with an open mind for the rest of the week’s discussions.
With Dr. Steve Robbins
 
Purposeful Storytelling: Going Beyond Entertainment to Make an Impact
Content & Distribution 
Presented by MARS
(12:00PM - 1:00PM) at Record North
It all starts with a story.  Building a creative, innovative, and inclusive team is the key to great storytelling.  This panel will look at how creatives, in front and behind the camera, can deliver stories that are not only meaningful and diverse but also free from bias.  Let’s tell stories that reflect the world we see around us.
Moderator: Elisabeth Sereda (HFPA)
With Nikkole Denson-Randolph (AMC Theatres), Lance Edward Nichols (“Treme”), Meghan Rienks (THE HONOR LIST)
 

THURSDAY, MAY 3
 
Redefining the Term “Strengthening Disability Inclusion in a world of Filmmaking, Storytelling, and Beyond” 

Associate Resource Group Hosted Event 
Presented by MARS
(9:00AM - 10:00AM) at Record North
One in every five Americans is living with a disability, making it the largest minority population today. Yet far too often, their important and varied stories go untold.
Moderator: Becky Curran (USBLN)
With Katy Sullivan Paralympian – Track & Field), Gail Williamson (Kazarian/Measures/ Ruskin & Associates) 
 
Casting in the Real World: Taking Action to Ensure Inclusiveness
Content & Distribution
Presented by MARS
(10:30AM - 11:30AM) at Record North
Writers, directors, producers, and casting agents have the ability to broaden the scope of their projects to truly reflect the world we live in. This discussion explores the steps we can take to make sure we all feel like insiders.
With Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd (Casting Director – FRUITVALE STATION), Nic Novicki (“Boardwalk Empire”), Jaime Primak Sullivan (Producer – BREAKING IN)
 
Creating, Marketing, and Distributing Content for Positive Change
Content & Distribution
Presented by MARS
(12:00PM - 1:00PM) at Record North
Content creators have the power to change and inspire audiences.  How do we make sure the content we distribute supports an inclusive world? Once we understand our own biases, how can we harness that to effect change through the content we create and distribute, to positively influence young minds.
Moderator: Heather Kruse (Haworth)
With Pam Kaufman (Nickelodeon), Traci White (AMC Theatres)
 
The Social Responsibility of Business: Doing Well by Doing Good 
Celebrity Series
Presented by L’Oréal Paris
(1:30PM - 2:30PM) at Record North
In an internet fueled, social media-driven world, companies and celebrity influencers have the ability and power to collaborate and inspire a meaningful impact. This panel will discuss the reality that millennials have demonstrated they care about companies that care about them. Therefore, how can media be utilized to communicate that companies have an interest in effecting positive change? How can it play a key role in amplifying social responsibility initiatives and inspiring creativity and innovation?
Moderator: Michele L. Sullivan (Caterpillar)
With David Arquette (SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO PRISON), Claudia Romo Edelman (UNICEF), Shannon Lee (Bruce Lee Foundation), Dennis Williams (HBO)
 
A League of their Own: Remarkable change happens when Women are in the Driver’s Seat.
Presented by American Cinema International (ACI)
(4:30PM - 5:30PM) at Record North
Research from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media shows that when there is a female writer and director, there is a 10% increase in onscreen roles. Remarkable change happens when women are in the driver’s seat. These successful business leaders will share case histories and best practices how they’ve leveraged their extensive experience to create more intersectional and gender balanced projects
Moderator: Madeline Di Nonno (CEO, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media)
With Aisha Tyler (“Archer”) and Chevonne O’Shaughnessy (ACI)

 
FRIDAY, MAY 4
 
Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, and Math (STEAM) Jobs are Gender Neutral

Associate Resource Group Hosted Event 
Presented by MARS
(9:00AM - to 10:00AM) at Record North
Over 1 million jobs in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, and Math) go unfilled. This panel will look at how we can harness the power of media to unlock potential and opportunities for women and minorities, and inspire them to pursue careers in STEAM and create an inclusive playing field.
With: Laurie Gaskins Baise (Tufts University), Dr. Knatokie Ford (FLY SCI Enterprise), Han Soto (ENDER’S GAME), Courtney McCarthy (Google)
 
Inclusion is Good for Business: Include Means Everyone 
Content & Distribution 
Presented by MARS
(10:30AM - 11:30AM) at Record North
Content creators in Film, Television, VR, and elsewhere have the power to change and inspire audiences. The case is indisputable; media that is gender balanced and inclusive performs better. This discussion will prove the business case for inclusion. How do we collaborate more purposefully to get inspiring stories in front of a wider audience?
With Monica Diaz (Campbell), Mindy Sherwood (Proctor & Gamble), Han Soto (ENDER’S GAME), Andrew Davis (Coca-Cola)
 
Landing Pad: Will Companies Be Ready when Diversity Shows Up? 
Images Matter
Presented by MARS
(12:00PM - 1:00PM) at Record North
This panel will explore how companies can create, implement, and support programs to assure diversity is celebrated and inclusion is the norm within their businesses. We’ll explore the idea that one cannot exist without the other, and how each can help to generate a productive and vibrant workforce under the company’s umbrella.
Moderator: Dr. Steve Robbins
With Alanna Cotton (Samsung), Lori Flees (Walmart), Laurie Gaskins Baise (Tufts University), Sarah Bettman (Constellation Brands)
 
How the Gamechangers Changed Their Game and Achieved Success
Celebrity Series 
Presented by Maybelline New York 
(1:30PM - 2:30PM) at Record North
By definition a gamechanger is a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation.  What are basic lessons we all can learn and incorporate into our lives to give us a better chance to succeed? This panel will explore what these influencers and high performers do when challenges arise.  What strategies did they use to persevere, change their own game, and inspire others to do the same?
Moderator: Debbie Matenopoulos (Home & Family)
With Victoria Arlen (ESPN Host and Personality), Matt Stutzman (The Armless Archer - Paralympian - Guinness World Records Holder)
 

SATURDAY, MAY 5
 
Media can Inspire Young Minds: Developing the Workforce of the Future

Images Matter 
Presented by MARS
(9:00AM - 10:00AM) at Record North
This panel will look at the real cause and effect when media dollars are spent. We’ll explore how a conscious management of media buys are directed can directly influence and inspire entire generations, leading to more diversity in the workplace.
With Vivian Greentree (First Data), Craig Robinson (NBC Universal)
 
The Time Is Now: How Leading Brands Deliver Social Impact 
Images Matter
Presented by MARS
(10:30AM – 11:30AM) at Record North
The lines between consumers, citizenship and brands, are blurred. In order to be relevant, consumers have a much higher expectation that Brands reflect their values not only in their products and services, but also in their workplaces and external messaging.  Successful Brands are engaging with social impact issues that are complementary to their business. And, we’ve all seen what happens when the brand’s business and social issue are not authentically aligned.  Consumers are rewarding brands that are authentic and sincere in their ability to advocate around specific issues resulting in doing good and doing good business. Our esteemed panelists will spotlight how they are driving social impact initiatives to achieve gender equality and intersectionality.
With Geena Davis, Alysia Reiner (“Orange is the New Black”), Jeanine Liburd (Viacom)
 
Geena and Friends Talk About Reversing Gender Roles On Screen
Celebrity Series
Presented by L’Oréal Paris and Maybelline New York
(12:00PM - 2:00PM) at Record North
Join BFF co-founder and Academy Award winner Geena Davis for a mind-bending session of role-reversal, as she and some celebrity guests explore the idea still mystifying to some that that complicated and interesting characters are not gender specific. Equity on screen can be achieved simply by changing the gender of a character, without changing any dialogue.
With Geena Davis, Meg Ryan, Alysia Reiner (“Orange is the New Black”) and Kiersey Clemons (HEARTS BEAT LOUD)

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