Bentonville Film Festival Sets Lineup for ‘Geena & Friends’ Event, Unveils Additional Programming

Cassandra Freeman (Bel-Air), Tika Sumpter (Sonic the Hedgehog) and Michaela Watkins (Thanks for Sharing) have joined the “Geena & Friends” program taking place at the upcoming Bentonville Film Festival in Arkansas.

The program, led by Geena Davis and moderated by The Hollywood Reporter contributing editor Stacey Wilson Hunt, takes a unique spin on traditional comedic narratives by reimagining them with an all-female or gender-non-conforming cast. The event is set for June 14 at the Thaden Theater in Bentonville.

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“I am thrilled to lead this program that reimagines all-male film narratives with an all-female/gender-non-conforming cast, leading to great humor,” Davis said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to showcase the power of storytelling through laughter and camaraderie. Working alongside such talented individuals as Cassandra Freeman, Tika Sumpter and Michaela Watkins is truly inspiring. I look forward to sharing this unique and transformative experience with everyone.”

The Bentonville Film Foundation made the announcement Thursday, along with additional events and spotlight screenings set to take place throughout the duration of the festival. The 10th edition of the event, chaired by Davis, runs June 10-16. See the newly announced events, along with their official descriptions, below and the official competition lineup here.

Geena & Friends

Friday, June 14, at 6 p.m., Thaden Theater

Two-time Academy Award-winning actor Geena Davis along with an all-star group of equally brilliant actors will re-imagine memorable dialogue from all-male movie scenes through an all-female/gender-non-conforming 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.

Cast: Geena Davis, Cassandra Freeman, Tika Sumpter, Michaela Watkins.

Making an Impact: Breaking Barriers & Challenging Biases (Presented by Paramount)

Wednesday, June 12, at 10 a.m., Fermentation Hall at The Momentary

Paramount’s Impact Series focuses on supporting gender equity in the workplace by hosting thoughtful conversations with leaders to discuss lessons learned along the way in their career journey. During this discussion, a powerhouse panel of female leaders will share their own personal experiences and dissect how industries are leveling the playing field for all women, from the board room to the writers room, on camera and on store shelves.

Moderator: Pam Kaufman, president and CEO of international markets, global consumer products and experiences, Paramount Global
Panelists: Julie Barber, EVP, Walmart General Merchandise; Erica Grundish, VP, PepsiCo Sam’s Club; Dawn Norvell, Global Head of Retail Lab, NielsenIQ

Spotlight Screenings

Continue (U.S.A.)

Thursday, June 13, at 3:15 p.m., Skylight Cinemas

A girl suffering from depression is forced to get her life together when she is taken involuntarily to a mental institution after trying to follow in her father’s footsteps but failing in her suicide attempt. She finds unlikely friends, unwavering love and a life she never imagined possible. All to find out some decisions can’t be undone. You only get one life.

Director-writer: Nadine Crocker
Cast: Nadine Crocker, Shiloh Fernandez, Lio Tipton, Anthony Caravella, Emily Deschanel

Unsung Hero (U.S.A.)

Thursday, June 13, at 1 p.m., Skylight Cinemas

David Smallbone (Joel Smallbone) and his wife Helen (Daisy Betts) move from Down Under to the States, with nothing more than their seven children, suitcases and their love of music. They ultimately realize the musical prowess in their children, who would go on to become two of the most successful acts in inspirational music history: five-time Grammy Award-winning artists for King + Country and Rebecca St. James.

Directors-writers: Joel Smallbone, Richard L. Ramsey; Story by Richard L. Ramsey
Cast: Daisy Betts, Joel Smallbone, Kirrilee Berger, Jonathan Jackson, Lucas Black, Candace Cameron Bure, Terry O’Quinn


Wednesday, June 12, at 6:30 p.m., Skylight Cinemas

When Julian (Bryce Gheisar) is visited by his grandmother (Helen Mirren) after struggling with adjusting to his new school, he is transformed by her remarkable story of compassion and bravery of her attempts to escape Nazi-occupied France during WWII. From director Marc Forster and based on R.J. Palacio’s graphic novel, White Bird reminds us to be brave and choose kind.

Director: Marc Forster; Writer: Mark Bomback
Cast: Ariella Glaser, Orlando Schwerdt, Bryce Gheisar, Gillian Anderson, Helen Mirren

The Hollywood Reporter is the media sponsor of the Bentonville Film Festival. The founding partner is Walmart. Coca-Cola is the presenting sponsor.

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