Bentonville Film Festival Focuses On Inclusion

BENTONVILLE (KFSM)-- The Bentonville Film Fest (BFF) wrapped up Sunday (May 6) afternoon with organizers calling it the biggest and best event yet.

Wendy Guerrero, the festival's president of programming, said this year they had more than 90,000 people attend and 10 world premiers.

But the festival is more than just the movies.

Every year, Guerrero said they discuss some of the topics they would like to bring to the festival.

She said they have had a lot of conversations about women in filmmaking.

"The festival really originated on this idea of inclusion," Guerrero said. "So a lot of our conversations and a lot of the films and content you see represents inclusion in front and behind the camera. So people with disabilities, people of color, women that’s all a part of our mission here in Bentonville."

One of the female filmmakers who presented was Tracey Aivaz who worked on Walmart's "The Box" series.

This was her first year at BFF and said she loved the experience.

She was a part of a panel that discussed women in film.

When they were finished, Aivaz said many still wanted to continue the discussion with a 17-year-old girl even telling her that Aivaz inspired her.

"Just seeing I have that effect on other young filmmaker’s lives, that is just so encouraging to me as a filmmaker too," Aivaz said.

Even in the past few years, she has seen a change in the film industry when it comes to having more women in the spotlight.

Aivaz said that change though has been slow.

"We’re moving in the correct direction and organizations such as the film festival here, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Walmart, they’re doing their part to bring in more voices," Aivaz said. "Specifically female voices."

Some who were at the festival just taking it all in appreciate that change, especially when it is highlighted at a local festival.

"It’s really nice to see that women are empowering each other and being supportive of each other and growing what we can do," Rogers Resident Stephanni Morgan said. "I mean, we stayed on the sidelines for quite sometime and with they way that the world is now, everyone is kind of joining together and being supportive of everyone."

Aivaz had a few pieces of advice for other filmmakers in the area.

She said get involved in local festivals, create, stay away from excuses and quality isn't always a big deal.

Guerrero said now that the festival is over, they will get to work on next year's event.

She said they did a lot of good things but need to address some of the things they can do better on like communication.