I was listening today to one of my favorite podcast called The Business and Kim Masters was interviewing Geena Davis and Trevor Drinkwater about the new film festival they have created to champion Women and Diversity in Film. The whole enterprise is backed by Walmart! Yes you heard right, Geena Davis is teaming up with Walmart to encourage change in the landscape of film in regards to equality. Of course, just like Kim pointed out, Walmart does not seem like the obvious choice. But as became clear in the interview, Walmart is actively working in changing their past behavior and treatment towards women in the workforce. I think that is honorable, and I applaud it. Go Walmart!
Also go, Geena Davis! I love you! For those of you who do not know, she has created The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to engage, educate, and influence the need to dramatically improve, gender balance, reduce stereotyping and create diverse female characters in entertainment targeting children 11 and under. And now she has co-create the Bentonville Film Festival!
As Geena Davis mentions in the interview at the rate we are moving for us to change and bring the industry to an equilibrium it will take 700 years, but if more people like herself bring to live organizations and film festivals to improve the situation, we have a chance to change it in 7 years. We should at least try our best!
And Geena has many wonderful members of the community behind her. Angela Bassett, Viola Davis, Bruce Dern, Julian Moore and many more are on the board of advisors.
The film festival is still accepting films, both narrative and documentary. Since it is the first year and the festival is already in May, they do not expect any filmmaker to be able to plan for the festival to be their premier platform. Hence, there is no restriction on films accepted into other film festivals.
What is required of the films is that featured films in the festival will be geared toward a mass audience and will slant toward family and co-viewing, which excludes an R rating. The reason for this is that the films, who win will be get a guaranteed distribution in Walmarts nation-wide. And I think this is the most effective way to create lasting change in our industry, if we create change on a commercial level, because after all money is the only thing that truly talks!
Films in the festival also must display women and minorities in a positive light and have an inspirational tone to them.
So if you have the right film, go ahead and submit. How great would it be to be part of the first year of this festival!
Thanks you Geena Davis, Trevor Drinkwater and Walmart for helping create change!
You can listen to the podcast here: http://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/the-business/the-bentonville-film-festival-transition-in-late-night
If you want to see a list of other podcast I recommend check out this blog post: http://skyevon.com/blog/2014/12/8/some-podcast-that-i-love-and-are-a-must-listen-if-you-work-in-the-industry