The annual festival takes place June 13 – 18, 2023 in-person in Bentonville, Arkasnas with on-demand streaming through June 25 – including selections from competition titles (Narrative, Documentary, Animation, Shorts, Episodic, Adventure) alongside exciting work across all festival sections; featuring panels that challenge industry norms, and conversations that emphasize independent artists in the art of film, storytelling and technology; and curated studio spotlight films with celebrity conversations.

Entering its 9th year, the Bentonville Film Festival is an annual event chaired by Academy Award® winner Geena Davis in partnership with founding sponsor Walmart and presenting sponsor Coca-Cola. We will celebrate this year’s featured films and conversations in-person in Bentonville, and globally from our homes, as well as with local in-person screenings, panels and events for those in the Northwest Arkansas region. The festival will have an opening and closing ceremony, awards program, and press attended red carpets. The festival secures national and regional press, along with a photographer from Getty Images each year. All films and filmmakers are allowed to walk the official red carpets and press events. Additional interviews and filmmaker press opportunities will be shared upon acceptance to the festival.

Every year, BFF convenes entertainment and media leaders, and corporate brands along with a vast array of intersectional content creators and storytellers to demonstrate the power and success of diverse voices in filmmaking. We hope to accurately represent the world we live in by cultivating an ecosystem in support of film that authentically reflects the intersectionality of our society. Our primary objective is to influence mainstream media to immediately increase diversity of content because "if they can see it, they can be it."

In 2022, we had over 150K+ viewers watching films, panels and Q&A’s on our watch.bentonvillefilm.org virtual platform and over 20,000 attendees at safe in-person screenings of competition and spotlight films, outdoor family films, panels and discussions, private filmmaker events and BFF community events, around Bentonville and the Northwest Arkansas region. In addition, we had the most diverse and inclusive film program to date! In the BFF 2022 juried competition program, 82% is from content creators who identify as female or gender non-confirming; 65% who identify as BIPOC, Asian, or Pacific Islander; 62% who identify as LGBTQIA+; 42% who are over 50; and 20% who identify as a person with disability. In addition for the 2022 program, onscreen leads are 90% women/gender non conforming, 60% BIPOC, 25% LGBTQ+ and 12% representing talent with disabilities.

We want to continue this important work, so filmmakers, if you have a project that fits our mission to champion inclusion on and off screen, and accurately reflect the gender balance and diversity of our world, please submit your shorts, episodics, and feature films to the 2023 Bentonville Film Festival, produced by the BFFoundation (501c3).

Bentonville Film Festival is held annually in the culturally rich region of Northwest Arkansas. With its undulating, expansive Ozark Mountains and ample urban greenspace, to world-class mountain biking, destination-worthy art experiences, rising star chefs, boutique lodging, and change makers driving a flourishing culinary and adventure destination scene, with an unparalleled entrepreneurial spirit of the community and its organizations that support it.


BFFoundation is operated year-round as a non-profit organization focused on promoting underrepresented voices of women and diverse storytellers. We want to amplify persons who identify as female, non-binary, gender-non confirming, LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, API; persons who have varying body types, who have a disability, and who are over 50. We do this through research, education, and supporting the production and distribution of inclusive content.

Our primary research partner is the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Together, we seek to support research that proves these systemic changes are not only the right thing to do—they are also commercially beneficial. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has also clearly shown that the media children consume has an overwhelming influence in shaping their view of the world and their place in it.

Working in partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the foundation seeks to use research to reinforce initiatives which are successfully driving improvement in the way gender and intersectionality are represented in the media and entertainment. BFF Foundation engages schools, community institutions, corporations, non-profit partners, content creators and media and entertainment industry leaders to actively support and create content that showcases positive gender and intersectional on screen portrayals.


As a non-profit, we require submission fees for festival programming and operations throughout the process. We also understand that submissions fees can be a challenge, on top of completing a film project ready for the festival circuit. Below is the criteria we require for consideration of a discount or waiver. We also have special promotions for discounts and waivers periodically through the regular submission period. Keep watch on our social media accounts for updates!

1. BFF Alumni Community receive 50% discount on submission fees through the extended deadline period. BFF Alumni are filmmakers, storytellers, speakers, actors, producers, and partners who have participated in festival and foundation past events. We also reserve a limited amount of free entry waivers for alumni requesting assistance with submission fees.

2. Indigenous and Native films and filmmakers can submit with a free entry waiver through the regular deadline period. We have reserved a limited number of free waivers at a first-come-first-serve basis.

3. Regional filmmakers or films receive a 50% discount on submission fees through the regular deadline period. Regional films and filmmakers are not limited to Arkansas only; we consider filmmakers and stories from the surrounding states, including Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

4. Students receive a 50% discount off submission fees through the regular deadline, and are eligible for special programs within the 2023 festival. Please see award and program categories in the Awards and Prizes section.

5. We partner mission-aligned organizations to offer waivers and discounts to their communities. Please reach out to us at the above email if you are a member of an organization that is in partnership with the festival, or if you are a part of an organization or community that could benefit from reduced entry fees.

If you meet the above criteria, have a special circumstance, or a mission-aligned project that should be considered for a waiver or discount, please reach out to us directly at programming@bentonvillefilm.org. (Include the Submission Waiver or Discount in the Subject Line, along with the project summary and filmmaker information).

**All submissions are reviewed and considered equally.. We do not give special consideration to films submitted with waivers or discount codes. Receiving a discount or waiver for submission fees does not not guarantee program selection in the 2023 festival.


The 2023 Bentonville film festival is accepting US and International Narrative and Documentary Features, Shorts, and Epsisodic. Please review all the details on competition, showcases, and our special categories like Animation and Adventure shorts.

Competition Films are official selections of the film program and are juried by an esteemed group of individuals from the media and entertainment industry. These films are eligible for festival awards. Categories considered for competition are US and International feature narratives, feature documentaries, short films, episodic films, and the Animation Shorts section.

Spotlight Films are official selections of the film program that are Non-Competition. Feature can be selected as opening, closing, and centerpiece showcases. This includes, but are not limited to mission-aligned festival favorites from around the world. The films selected for any of these slots receive a special spotlight throughout festival duration.

New Categories for 2023:

Animation Shorts/Episodic Competition
This category is in partnership with Kickstart Entertainment. Kickstart Entertainment has supported and produced the Bentonville Film Festival since its inception in 2015. They have a robust animation business with studio’s in multiple countries and are helping to create and support this new short category to introduce diverse artists, content creators and audiences into the BFF community. There will be cash prizes and studio support associated with this section.

Adventure Films Showcase (short/episodic)
Short and Episodic projects that explore the connection to the natural world through adventure, recreation, and community. This category is a program in partnership with Thaden School, a foundation partner of BFFoundation. In the spirit of celebrating the festival's home region and its unique accessibility to outdoor adventures and recreation, this is a community-led program. Films do not have to be regional but must encompass these themes: Outdoor sports and recreation, culinary experiences, art and sculpture, and stories that celebrate our connection to the natural world. Prizes and awards associated with this category are not associated with the festival competition program.

*BFF creates special showcases and film series based on mission-aligned topics, themes, and partnerships. Films invited for these categories are non-competition.

The culmination of the Bentonville Film Festival is the award ceremony at the close of the annual event. The competition juries are composed of notable individuals from the worldwide film community with original and diverse points of view select films from each of the juried categories to receive a range of awards. Any special awards, fellowships, and distribution prizes are also announced as well at the closing event if they are associated with the 2023 festival.

Official BFF Jury Awards:
The Bentonville Film Festival provides the following awards:

Official BFF Jury Awards:

Best US Narrative Feature
Best US Documentary Feature
Best US Short (Documentary & Narrative)
Best US Episodic (Documentary & Narrative)
Best International Narrative Feature
Best International Documentary Feature
Best International Short (Documentary & Narrative)
Best International Episodic (Documentary & Narrative)

*Honorable Mention & Special Jury Recognitions for each category

BFF Awards do not guarantee distribution. Distribution awards are separate and awarded based on distributor agreements and interest the during 2022 Festival)

Special Awards:

Kickstart Animation Awards - 20,000 in prizes and studio support for selected film(s) invited for the festival program.

Molly Holtzinger Aspiring Filmmaker Award - prizes and/or gear awards awarded to a winning student film invited for the festival program.

Outdoor Adventure Awards - prizes awarded in partnership with community partners and organizations.

Filmmaker Awards:

M&M's For All Funkind Filmmaker Grant - This is an annual award of 20,000 given to a film project in development from a BFF alumni filmmaker who has come through the festival prior to 2023. All festival alumni are invited to submit; group submissions must have a BFF Alumni as a lead creative in the project. The alumni will also be considered for future opportunities on M&M's brand campaigns. This award is in partnership with Mars Wrigley. The award is chosen by the sponsor of the award. the film will receive its world premiere at the Bentonville Film Festival.

NBC Universal "See It, Be It, Make It" Grant - 25,000 awarded annually to a selected BFF Alumni who is working on their next film project. This award is by invitation of a filmmaker who has come through the festival since 2015.Upon completion, the film will be screened at Bentonville Film Festival.

**Filmmaker awards have a separate application and submission portal and are by invitation only.


Upon acceptance, the festival will communicate any travel and benefits to filmmakers and film teams. All films will receive complimentary festival industry passes and tickets for specific screening. Industry passes includes access to festival headquarters and filmmaker lounges, in addition to special filmmaker and industry events during the week. When selected, the filmmakers and film team will receive a "How to Fest" packet for travel information and attendance, and will work directly with the Guest Services staff for getting to the festival.

Competition and Spotlight feature filmmakers will receive one travel stipend of $599, as well as paid lodging in Bentonville during the festival's in person dates of June 13 - 18, 2023 in Bentonville, Arkansas; in addition to paid attendance to the 2023 Filmmakers Retreat and community activities during the festival week. Feature Filmmakers will have a deadline for registration and travel reimbursement, which will be included in the official program invitation. BFF is committed to providing travel support for one film representative. Travel and support will be provided for any invited speakers or cast associated with other festival programming, and is by invitation only.

All shorts and episodic filmmakers, along with special showcase (non-competition) filmmakers are typically not provided travel support, but can reserve their lodging through a BFF block with special rates provided upon acceptance to the festival.

**Some special showcases and categories that are not features may receive travel support upon invitation to the festival.


BFFoundation requests this information because (i) it collects data to study inclusion and diversity representation in entertainment; and (ii) it provides confirmation that (a) the productions BFF is considering meet BFFoundation and BFFs mission and competition qualifiers and (b) the Applicant has read and agreed to the Rules.

One of the reasons BFF is unique is it was the first film festival to intentionally exhibit diverse and inclusive productions - both in front of and behind the camera.

The BFF film program highlights stories and storytellers that are underrepresented in entertainment and media. BFF defines underrepresented groups as the following: persons who identify as women, non-binary, or gender-non confirming; persons of color, persons who are multi-racial, indigenous and first peoples, native communities, persons who identify as LGBTQIA+, persons with disabilities, persons with varying body sizes or large-bodied individuals; and persons over the age of 50.

Film projects must meet inclusive program qualifiers and will have a custom form attached to the submission process.

BFF does not require films to premiere at the festival, however special consideration will be given to possible World and US Premieres. Feature premieres may be considered for opening, closing, and centerpiece slots; and will have red carpet and industry press highlights through the festival and program release process.


In order for your production to qualify for the BFF program, it must contain two (2) or more (does not need to contain all) of the following:

• Director is an individual who identifies with an underrepresented group
• Writer is an individual who identifies with an underrepresented group
• Lead Producer is an individual who identifies with an underrepresented group
• Lead Actor is a individual who identifies with an underrepresented group
• Lead Character/Subject is an individual who identifies with an underrepresented group
• At least fifty-percent (50%) of cast, background performers, and crew are persons who identify with underrepresented groups
• The storyline is about an underrepresented group

Applicants are required to fill out the BFF Inclusion form upon entry for consideration, which is found on the FilmFreeway submission page.

2023 Special Themes and Programs:

BFF holds special showcases and film series throughout the festival based on themes and special circumstances. All submissions do not have to fit these themes, but we will give special consideration in 2023 for films that hold any of these subjects or themes below.

-Women Empowerment (including trans, non-binary, and non-genderconforming individuals)
-Activism and Social Change
- Films about the black experience
-International Origin
- Family or co-viewing Films
-Genre Films (Action, Horror, Psychological Thrillers)
-Generational – representation of people over the age of 50
- Films that highlight BIPOC, API, and indigenous groups and communities
-Films that highlight the LGBTQIA+ community
-Regional and Local stories (from Arkansas or states that touch Arkansas)
- Culinary and Food
- Sports and Recreation
- Climate Change, Environment, and Food Sustainability
- Outdoor Adventure and Recreation
- Art Films (Visual, Literary, Performing)
- Health and Wellness

By submitting a feature, short or episodic narrative or documentary (hereinafter “Film”) to BFFoundation (hereinafter together “BFFoundation”) for consideration in the 2023 festival program (hereinafter “2023 Festival Program”) of the 2023 Bentonville Film Festival (hereinafter “2023 Festival”), the owner of the Film (hereinafter “Applicant”) agrees to be bound by these rules and regulations (“Rules and Regulations”).


The Film’s total running time must be at least fifty (50) minutes (exclusive of credits). If the Film’s final running time is projected to be less than fifty (50) minutes (exclusive of credits), the Film may NOT be submitted to the 2023 Film Festival.
However, it might meet the requirements of one of the other programs. Please email programming@bentonvillefilm.org for further details about program categories.

The Film’s total running time must be at no more than thirty (30) minutes (exclusive of credits). If the Film’s final running time is projected to be more than thirty (30) minutes (exclusive of credits), the Film may NOT be submitted to the 2023 Film Festival.
However, it might meet the requirements of one of the other programs. Please email programming@bentonvillefilm.org for further details about program categories.


Narrative Feature Film (US and International): Original voices from emerging and established filmmakers with distinct vision. For purposes of the 2023 Festival, a Narrative Feature is any narrative work with a running time of 50 minutes or more. In order to qualify as a Narrative Feature Film, the submitted project must be either scripted or improvisational fiction.

Documentary Feature Film (US and International): Non-Fiction films from emerging and established filmmakers with distinct vision. For purposes of the 2023 Festival, a documentary feature is any non-fiction film with a running time of 50 minutes or more.

Short or Episodic Film (US or International): Original voices from emerging and established filmmakers with distinct vision. For purposes of the 2023 Festival, a Short or Episodic is any narrative or documentary work with a running time of 30 minutes or less.

Animation Shorts (US and International): Original voices from emerging and established animators and artists with distinct vision. For purposes of the 2023 Festival, an Animation Short or Episodic is any narrative or documentary work with a running time of 25 minutes or less. Animation films do not have to be family or kid-friendly, but we do give special consideration to projects that are intended for co-viewing.

Regional Films: Original voices from emerging and established filmmakers with distinct vision. For purposes of the 2023 Festival, a Short or Episodic is any narrative or documentary work with a running time of 30 minutes or less. For this category, we consider filmmakers and stories from Arkansas and surrounding states, including Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Adventure Shorts: Original voices from emerging and established filmmakers with distinct vision in the outdoor and adventure film category. For purposes of the 2023 Festival, a Short or Episodic is any narrative or documentary work with a running time of 30 minutes or less.

Both U.S. and International films may be submitted in all categories. Applicants submitting Films that contain significant non-English spoken dialogue must provide on-screen English subtitles. BFF Organizer reserves the right to disqualify, without refund of any or all submission fees previously collected from the Applicant, any Film that contains significant non-English spoken dialogue that does not include accompanying on-screen English subtitles.


Film Submissions Open: October 4, 2022

Feature Early Entry Deadline: November 14, 2022
Shorts & Episodics Early Entry Deadline: January 15, 2023

Feature Official Deadline: January 30, 2023
Shorts & Episodics Official Deadline: February 28, 2023

Feature Late Entry Deadline: February 28, 2023
Shorts & Episodics Late Entry Deadline: March 7, 2023

Extended Late Entry Deadline:
Feature Notification Date: April 19, 2023

Shorts & Episodics Notification Date: April 26, 2023

Event Dates: June 13 - June 18, 2022 (Bentonville, Arkansas); June 13 - 25 (Virtual Streaming)

6. SUBMISSION FEES: Please see fees for specific categories, including early, regular, and late deadline fees. All submission fees are eligible for Film Freeway Gold prices and discounts.




• Applicants must fill out the questions and pay the submission fee on FilmFreeway. This is required even if film is not uploaded directly on FilmFreeway, so we can consider film information and inclusion qualifiers.

• Applicants may either (a) upload the screener onto FilmFreeway, (b) email a password protected streaming link of the film to BFF Organizer at the email address: programming@bentonvillefilm.org, or (c) ship to BFFoundation mailing address at: 702 SE 5th Street, STE 8, Bentonville, AR, 71712. Please email programming@bentonvillefilm.org for more information.

BFFoundation is not responsible for submissions that are lost, stolen, or damaged in transit. It is the sole responsibility of the Applicant to ensure the streaming link or DVD, as applicable, is functional and active at least through April 1, 2023. Please include the entry number (the entry number is provided when you complete the FilmFreeway submission and pay the fee) and the film title clearly on the DVD or the body of the email.

Each Applicant must designate one person, 18 years of age or older, as their Applicant Representative (“AR”), and no Applicant may have more than one AR. The AR will act for the Applicant in all communications with the BFFoundation. During the selection process, BFFoundation will attempt to contact the Applicant’s AR using the contact information provided on the submission form to notify the Applicant of the Film’s acceptance status. BFFoundation disavows any responsibility for, and will not be held responsible for, any failure to contact the Applicant using the contact information provided on the submission form. It is the sole responsibility of the Applicant to ensure that the contact information provided on the submission form is correct throughout the entirety of the selection period (October 3, 2023 to April 1, 2023).

Your film will be screened in person at the festival in Bentonville, as well as on our virtual platform.

We have put together the following pages in an effort to make gathering the various files and pieces of information as clear and smooth as possible.


Films will be invited to screen in -person and virtually at least once during the festival duration. For virtual screenings, If there are restrictions against virtual or on-demand streaming, please communicate this upon acceptance. Films are not required to screen virtual at the festival if circumstances do not allow. (Geo-blocking and Audience caps are available).

BFFoundation accepts DCP and non-DCP films for screening. Based on scheduling and circumstance. Each film will receive specific communication about what is needed for film delivery in the invitation.

BFF encourages feature films to have a DCP for specific venues and works with a DCP company to provide deep discounts for BFF filmmakers if a DCP is required to make. This information will be shared to invited filmmakers upon acceptance to the festival.

All legal notices to BFF must be in writing and delivered by hand delivery or postage prepaid delivery service with delivery confirmation (e.g., certified mail, registered mail, FedEx, etc.) to the following address: BFFoundation, 702 SE 5th Street, Suite 8, Bentonville AR. 72712

Applicants acknowledge that BFFoundation has the sole right to select the submissions that will be showcased, exhibited, and/or part of the competition or spotlight sections at the 2023 Festival and has the sole right to reject submissions.

Upon acceptance of the festival, the representative of the film will receive screening agreement terms and deliverables information, including screening and publicity agreements.

Overall Rating
  • We loved Bentonville! The team programs with advocacy and diversity in mind. The town is fun to explore and we met so many wonderful filmmakers.

    September 2022
  • Robin Wang

    Excellent communication, hospitality, connection, and press opportunities. You will know you arrive at a true film festival the moment you land at the NWA airport. We are very honored to be screened next to this year's amazing lineup and hope to return in the future!

    July 2022
  • It was such an honor to screen "You are Me & I am You" at this celebrated film festival. I certainly hope to have future films screen here and also be a participant in future festivals. Well organized and curated.

    March 2022
  • Lara Panah-Izadi

    I loved attending this festival and I loved discovering Bentonville. I feel like I made filmmaker friends for life there. I was in awe of the shorts lineup, the programming and everyone's talent. If you get in, definitely go! Thank you to all organizers

    December 2021
  • Robin Noonan-Price

    Bentonville was the only film festival that I could attend this year. It did not disappoint. There was a wonderful diverse array of films. The programmers took good care of the film makers. I made some great connections. I hope to return!

    October 2021