EXCLUSIVE: The BFFoundation, the nonprofit organization formed late last year to produce the Geena Davis-chaired Bentonville Film Festival in Arkansas, is launching a production company that like the foundation and fest will champion women and inclusive voices in filmmaking.
The new Bentonville Way Entertainment already has a slate of films in the pipeline featuring alumni from from past Bentonville fests: the Amber McGinnis-directed Buddy, the Jennifer Gerber-directed Has Been Beauty Queen and Dealing With Dad written and directed by Tom Huang. Kristin Mann will serve as Head of Content.
BWE will provide local production resources to its films, with the aim to produce in Arkansas whenever possible. The three features are currently in preproduction and expected to go into production in late 2021 and early 2022.
“We are excited that we can further the outcome of our mission by not only amplifying these voices through the festival each year, but also by supporting the production and distribution of inclusive content,” Davis said. “This will help create pathways for change in the industry for our alumni.”
Buddy, written by Luke Thomas and directed by McGinnis, a the latter a member of the BFF’s “See It Be It” Fellowship, centers on an elderly father who accidentally contributes to a man’s death, and in an effort to maintain custody of his adult son with Down syndrome he decides to cover it up. The pic will be produced in partnership with Sanjay M. Sharma and Milan Chakraborty of Marginal MediaWorks.
Has Been Beauty Queen, written by Arkansas-born Gerber and Samuel Brett Williams, is a semi-autobiographical telling of Gerber’s true experiences growing up in Hot Springs, AR as a teenage beauty queen with a bipolar mother. Summer Shelton is also producing the pic, shooting in Arkansas.
Huang’s Dealing With Dad, the script for which was a part of Film Independent’s Screenwriting Lab and Fast Track program, is a comedic drama about an Asian American family figuring out what to do after realizing their elderly father is struggling with depression. The film will be produced by Tanner Kling, Alan Pao and Brian Yang, with Effie Brown executive producing. It is currently filming in Los Angeles.
“We’re thrilled to introduce BWE as a way to continue BFFoundations’ vision for artist support beyond the established festival and year-round programs,” said Wendy Guerrero, President of BFFoundation and the Bentonville Film Festival. “With the formation of Bentonville Way Entertainment, we’re creating a tangible pipeline for filmmakers, giving them the resources and opportunities needed to bring their stories to life. Each of the selected films demonstrates the core mission of BFF: to champion historically underrepresented voices in entertainment.”
Said Mann: “With a focus on creating pathways for underrepresented filmmakers, BWE will continue to elevate
BFFoundation and create meaningful change in the industry.”
The 2021 Bentonville Film Festival ran August 3-8 this year and awarded its jury prizes for Best Documentary to Kili Big and Best Narrative Feature to 7 Days.