The Geena Davis-led Bentonville Film Festival in Arkansas (June 13-18, 2023; streaming through June 25) has partnered with Kickstart Entertainment to introduce a new Animation competition category, offering cash awards and studio support.
“Kickstart Entertainment has supported and produced the Bentonville Film Festival since its inception in 2015. We have a robust animation business with studio’s in multiple countries so we jumped at the opportunity to help create and support a new short category to introduce diverse artists, content creators and audiences into the BFF community,” said Jason Netter, Founder & CEI of Kickstart and Producer of BFF. “We are honored to provide 20,000 in cash prizes plus studio support for this category.”
In collaboration with founding partner Walmart and presenting partner Coca-Cola, the 9th edition will return to in-person festivities next year (plus select programs streaming worldwide) with competition screenings, industry panels, filmmaker conversations and studio spotlights.
“We can’t wait for our 2023 festival and are so proud to be nearly a decade into formally championing underrepresented visionaries,” said actress, producer and activist Davis, who chairs the festival. “BFF is designed to support storytellers from across the globe with opportunities to showcase their unique stories. We are thrilled to be the gathering place for these diverse artists sharing bold work while providing a global platform to give wider access to these artists and their stories.”
BFF President Wendy Guerrero added, “We’re delighted to bring ground-breaking projects to the Heartland where we have been an annual convening place for independent film, artists, and audiences for the last eight years. With the culturally rich community, accessibility to outdoor adventure, and focus on innovative technology, we are excited about the added short film categories in Animation and Adventure at the 2023 festival. By expanding our program in these areas, it will further our mission in championing women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, people with disabilities, older persons (50+) and large-bodied individuals in two new categories for 2023.”
In line with this mission, the 2022 festival built a program with more than 82% of the competition titles from content creators who identify as female or gender non-conforming; 65% who identify as Black, Indigenous, a person of color, Asian or Pacific Islander; 62% who identify as LGBTQIA+; 42% who are over 50; and 20% who identify as a person with differing abilities.
Feature film submissions for the 9th BFF are now open on FilmFreeway; Short Film submissions (including Animation) and Episodics will launch on November 14.
Founded in 1999, Kickstart Entertainment is an animation and live-action production company with locations in Vancouver, Los Angeles, Arkansas, Toronto, Hong Kong and Suzhou. The studio’s animation credits include Angry Birds: Summer Madness, Lucas the Spider, Ready Jet Go!, Bottersnikes & Gumbles, Transformers Rescue Bots and Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles.