The Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) announced final additions to their programming which includes the world premiere of the Netflix film Good Sam starring Tiya Sircar. The fest, which was co-created by Geena Davis and champions inclusion in all forms of media, has also added spotlight screenings of Gurinder Chadha’s Sundance Springsteen hit Blinded By The Light from New Line Cinema as well as STX’s animated feature UglyDolls. Now in its fifth year, the festival kicked off May 7 and continues through May 11 in Bentonville, Ark.
Based on the book by Dete Meserve, Good Sam explores what happens when a mysterious good Samaritan (aka “Good Sam”) leaves $100,000 cash on seemingly random doorsteps. TV news reporter Kate Bradley (Sircar) sets out to discover Good Sam’s true identity and motive, turning her personal life upside down. Kate Melville directs from a script by Meserve and Teena Booth. Good Sam will screen in Bentonville on May 10 ahead of its May 16 debut on Netflix.
Blinded By The Light premiered at Sundance in January and received critical acclaim and was acquired by New Line and Warner Bros. to the tune of $15 million. The pic is based on the real-life story of Safraz Manzoor, who co-wrote the screenplay based on his own book. The story follows Javed (Viveik Kalra) who grows up in a town full of losers in 1987. Amidst the racial and economic turmoil of the times, he writes poetry as a means to escape the intolerance of his hometown and the inflexibility of his traditional father. But when a classmate introduces him to Springsteen’s music, Javed sees parallels to his working-class life in the lyrics. As Javed discovers a cathartic outlet for his own pent-up dreams, he also begins to find the courage to express himself in his own unique voice. Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra, Nell Williams, Aaron Phagura, Hayley Atwell and Dean-Charles Chapman also star. The film opens on August 14.
UglyDolls was released May 3 and is directed by Kelly Asbury. It follows the titular free-spirited UglyDolls, lead by Moxie (Kelly Clarkson), journey beyond Uglyville to discover the town of Perfection. The animated feature also includes the voice talents of Blake Shelton, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monae, Pitbull, Gabriel Iglesias, and Wanda Sykes.
The fest will also present the first BFF Rising Star award to Jadiel Dowlin (Star Falls) and Michela Luci (Dino Dana), two young performers who have demonstrated exceptional talent and are destined for bright futures in film or television. They have also announced their program of shorts and competition episodics which can be read below.
BFF 2019 OFFICIAL SHORT FILM SELECTIONS
Alpha Mare, 10m., Directors Mimi Wilcox and Victor Tadashi Suarez
Cowboy Joe, 6 Min/, Director Jingjing Tian
Difficult People, 19 Min., Director Sohil Vaidya
Division Ave, 14 Min., Director Tamar Glezerman
Flight, 13 Min., Director Kia Moses & Adrian McDonald
Full Beat, 10 Min., Director Kase Pena
Game, 16 Min., Director Jeannie Donohoe
Green, 12 Min., Director Suzanne Andrews Correa
How Does it Start, 16 Min., Director Amber Sealey
Just One Night, 12 Min., Director Sahar Jahani
LAMB, 6 Min., Director Caroline Slaughter
Made Public, 14 Min., Director Foster Wilson
Me Tamien, 17 Min., Director Valeria Vallejos
Misdirection, 14 Min., Director Carly Usdin
One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure, 14 Min., Director A.M. Lukas
Our Home, 10 Min., Director Andy Alvarez
Search History, 16 Min., Director Christina YR Jun
Sock Guys, 10 Min., Director Katie Turnski
The Accidental Activist, 7 Min., Director Samia Khan
The Dying Kind, 9 Min., Director Ryan Lacen
The Great Unkown, 15 Min., Director Anna Jones
The Stars & Thunder, 10 Min., Director Jesse Einstein
The Wagon, 12 Min., Director Gayle Knutson
BFF 2019 OFFICIAL COMPETITION EPISODIC SELECTIONS
Directors Whitney Uland and Nora Kaye
What is the right thing to do when you find out that your longtime friend and CEO is accused of sexual assault? Alexa realizes that the answer is never black and white. The women in this office are ready for a revolution but will Alexa have the guts to do anything about it? Hysterical Women is dark comedy created by Whitney Uland & Nora Kaye.
Director Kate Scardino
Even in this day and age it is easy to isolate ourselves and prejudge others based on gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, mental health and other factors seen as taboo by some. Normativity follows a group of women, each of whom is physically and culturally distinct, dealing with her own internal struggles and triumphs, strengths and weaknesses, and challenges presented by her environment. Despite their unique individuality, these women also have similarities and chemistry that bond them in sisterhood.
Director Kate Steppe
There is a common saying you only get to know someone if you’ve traveled together. So that is exactly what Philippe does. He invites four guests for a week’s holiday in a lovely country house in West-Flanders. He spends time with people who are incurably ill, physically challenged, suffering from obesity, people in poverty, LGBT’s, people with different skin color, with a psychic vulnerability and people with a visual disability. He gets to know their personalities while site seeing through the countryside. And then he does what he does best: doing stand-up comedy in front of his new made friends in a venue packed with people, confronted with the same issue. Taboo is a unique mix of human interest and comedy, trying to blow some fresh air into ponderous themes, connecting people through humor.
Director Mary Lyn Chambers
The 1920s were Glory Days for Tijuana, Mexico. The thriving town was a magnet for movie stars, mobsters, dignitaries and misfits seeking an escape from the doldrums of US Prohibition. Tijuana follows French-born Carmen, a wildly intelligent, ambitious woman and wife of Tijuana’s newly-elected Chief of Police. Carmen leverages her newfound power in Mexico’s high society to launch her own tequila smuggling enterprise. It’s Macbeth meets Downton Abbey on Tequila…with a woman at the helm.