Geena Davis Unveils New Diversity-Minded Film Festival

The Bentonville Film Festival held in Arkansas will promote women and minority filmmakers, actors, and crew.

Geena Davis may be best known for her work onscreen—and will forever be beautiful baseball ace Dottie Hinson to this writer—but the actress is also a longtime staunch advocate for women, founding the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media and partnering with the UN to address issues of gender equality and female empowerment around the world. Now, Davis is launching a film festival specifically aimed at promoting women and minority filmmakers, actors, and crew.

The four-day Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) will debut May 5th in Bentonville, Arkansas, and is the only film competition of its kind where theatrical distribution is a part of the prize-winning packages. “I have been an advocate for women for most of my adult life,” Davis said in a statement. “The Bentonville Film Festival is a critical component of how we can directly impact the quantity and quality of females and minorities on screen and behind-the scenes.”

Submitted films must meet two of seven requirements listed, Variety reports: female or minority lead; female or minority director; female or minority writer; female or minority production company; gender and diversity balanced cast; gender and diversity balanced crew; and family or shared viewing appropriate. Davis has also emphasized commercial viability as being a factor in the decisions.

Davis’s efforts will undoubtedly benefit from the additional star power that BFF’s Advisory Board boasts, including Angela Bassett, Bruce Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Longoria, Julianne Moore, Paula Patton, Natalie Portman, and Shailene Woodley. WalMart, AMC, Arc Entertainment, and Coca-Cola have all signed on as partners as well.

“Women are seriously under-represented across nearly all sectors of society around the globe, not just on-screen, but for the most part we’re simply not aware of the extent,” Davis said last year in a statement released with research from her institute showcasing the gender divide. “And media images exert a powerful influence in creating and perpetuating our unconscious biases… How do we encourage a lot more girls to pursue science, technology and engineering careers? By casting droves of women in STEM, politics, law, and other professions today in movies.”

Among the findings? Forbes reported that: There are 2.24 male characters for every female character. Out of 1,452 filmmakers, 20.5% were women, but just 7% were directors. 19.5% of the writers were women, as were 22.7% of the producers. Comments about characters’ appearance were five times as likely to be directed at female characters than at male characters. And women are just as likely to be sexualized in a film if you are 13 or if you are 39.

In conclusion, the study looks to filmmakers to enact change in the industry, saying that they “make more than just movies, they make choices. Those choices could be for balance, for less sexualization, and for more powerful female roles. The choice could be for gender equality.”

Submissions for the Bentonville Film Festival will be accepted beginning January 15, with chosen projects revealed in March.

via Alan Levine / Flickr

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they've worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.

Keep Reading Show less

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, whale populations have been steadily recovering. However, whales in the wild still face other dangers. In the summer of 2018, four Russian companies that supply aquariums with marine animals captured almost 100 beluga whales and killer whales (aka orcas). After a public outcry, those whales are swimming free as the last of the captive whales have been released, the first time this many captured whales have been released back into the wild.

In late 2018 and early 2019, a drone captured footage of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales crammed into holding pens in the Srednyaya Bay. The so-called "whale jail" made headlines, and authorities began to investigate their potentially illegal capture.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The 2020 election is a year away, but Donald Trump has some serious ground to cover if he doesn't want it to be a historical blowout.

A Washington Post- ABC News poll released Tuesday shows that Trump loses by double digits to the top Democratic contenders.

Vice President Joe Biden (56%-39%); Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (54%-39%); Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (56%-39%); South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (52%-41%); and Sen. Kamala Harris of California (52%-41%) all have big leads over the president.

Keep Reading Show less