Davis hones in on diversity

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Davis hones in on diversity

With help from a slew of corporate sponsors, Geena Davis, together with filmmakers focused on women and diversity, have taken over Bentonville, Arkansas, a city of 40,000 best known as Wal-Mart’s home base.

While it’s not the first film festival to specialize in diversity, Davis said it’s the only film competition to promise theatrical releases for winners.

“It’s unheard of in the world, actually,’’ the Oscar-winner said in a telephone interview before opening the Bentonville Film Festival on Tuesday.

“It’s the only festival offering distribution across theatrical, digital and on TV and on DVD. .?.?. That’s just part of our push to show how commercial diverse films can be.’’

About 75 films will be screened over the four-day festival, which will also include panel discussions and a celebratory “A League of Their Own’’ baseball game, featuring appearances by Rosie O’Donnell and two original members of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Davis plans to expand the festival beyond Bentonville to include educational outreach and events throughout the year. Founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2007, the actress plans to bring the research amassed by her organization to film schools and colleges around the country.

“It’s very important to educate the next generation of content creators before they even start their professional careers,’’ she said. “Once it’s brought to [filmmakers’] attention, once they hear the numbers, they’re just stunned and horrified... how much gender bias there is and lack of diversity.’’ AP
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