2024 FESTIVAL PROGRAM

A Middle Eastern American writer turned adjunct professor at a local college must deal with the fact that he is expendable to the system and has to figure out his next move. WORLD PREMIERE
Curated by the Thaden School, the Adventure Shorts program showcases an appreciation for outdoor adventure and dynamic filmmaking, through a variety of life experiences.
Graham is an actor/writer struggling for recognition and moping in the shadowy of much more successful older brother Will. Finding themselves reunited unexpectedly to spend the weekend clearing out the family home under the watchful eyes of their equally complicated parents, the family uncovers secrets and airs old grievances, as they prepare for Graham's college crush to assume tenancy.
'All We Carry' follows a young Honduran family as they flee persecution—migrating in cargo trains across Mexico, claiming asylum at the US border, and enduring separation in detention before being released in Seattle. There, a local synagogue sponsors the family for two years while they await the final decision on their asylum case. As the family tries to settle into their new home, we witness their everyday moments—both sorrowful and joyful—along the way.
Featuring a range of styles from hand-drawn to stop motion, and pulled together from countries around the world including Spain, Poland, Turkey, Iran and Belgium, the Animation Shorts program is fanciful, inventive and surprisingly emotional.
Join us for a special presentation of BARBIE, where all attendees are encouraged to dress up like their favorite Barbie character and enjoy a screening under the stars! BARBIE: To live in Barbie Land is to be a perfect being in a perfect place. Unless you have a full‐on existential crisis. Or you''re a Ken. Presented by the Harnisch Foundation and Mattel
When a couple of nice, young homebody ghosts try to haunt the pretentious humans who have moved into their house, they ask for help from a demonic wraith they cannot control in this comic fantasy that mixes the quick and the dead with a laugh and a fright.
The romantic reunion of Ben Santhanaraj and Suzanne Hopper is thwarted when their holiday plans become a work-from-home vacation. The couple's romantic trip turns unconventional as they embark on a hilarious yet amorous journey across Sri Lanka.
A blind female Paralympic champion and multiple world-record holder sets out to become the first blind person to ride a single, non-tandem, bike across the US – 3600 miles in 60 straight days – while confronting painful truths about her past that she’s spent a lifetime trying to outrun. BLIND AF documents this historic test of the human spirit, and resilience in the face of fear, to tell a multi-faceted story of trauma, transcendence and healing power of self-belief. WORLD PREMIERE
Recent college grad Jaime Reyes returns home full of aspirations for his future, only to find that home is not quite as he left it. As he searches to find his purpose in the world, fate intervenes when Jaime unexpectedly finds himself in possession of an ancient relic of alien biotechnology: the Scarab. When the Scarab suddenly chooses Jaime to be its symbiotic host, he is bestowed with an incredible suit of armor capable of extraordinary and unpredictable powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the Super Hero Blue Beetle.
Desi, a young girl from Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, is drawn to music by a famed ancestor. Her brother Fran, who lives in New York is pursuing his music while struggling to make ends meet. Cousin Elvis' return for his wedding reveals his sinister business plans which entail child prostitution. Desi is at a crossroads by finding her voice among a group of underground rap artists, and romantic interest Raul. Amidst threats, Desi navigates a path of self-discovery and resilience.
Carefully Taught is a thought-provoking and at times comedic documentary revealing the intricate web between US policies, Asian stereotypes and media representation. Experts and artists deconstruct the Western development of Asian identity and share stories highlighting its impact on individual lives. A timely countermeasure for rising Sinophobia in the West, this film confronts the surge in anti-Asian hate crimes and issues a powerful call for societal and individual reconstruction. WORLD PREMIERE
Alienated by friends and family for her lack of ambition, 29-year-old Misha finds a dangerous acceptance in a bright 18-year-old athlete who mistakes her for a fellow student.
Experience the extraordinary sisterhood of three women who share one unbreakable bond in The Color Purple. This bold new take on the beloved classic is directed by Blitz Bazawule and produced by Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones.
Dandelion, a struggling Cincinnati singer songwriter in a downward spiral, takes a last ditch-effort gig at a motorcycle rally in South Dakota where she meets Casey, a guitarist who walked away from his dream long ago. As Dandelion joins Casey's nomadic group of struggling musicians, the kindred spirits make music together and strike up a whirlwind romance.
Four young girls prepare for a special Daddy Daughter Dance with their incarcerated fathers, as part of a unique fatherhood program in a Washington, D.C., jail.
The Debutante is a Black girl coming-of-age story about an intergenerational group of women and girls revitalizing a long-lost tradition — the debutante ball. The film follows Canton, Ohio's first group of Black debutantes in a decade as they prepare for the event: learning to waltz, taking etiquette classes, and securing escorts. The debutante ball has long been the ultimate manifestation of middle class respectability politics: a presentation to society in line with all that 'society' dictates and deems acceptable in appearance and behavior. But that was then. Now a new generation of young Black women must decide just how much of that past to embrace as they chart a new future. Will these girls reject or embrace these traditional blueprints for advancement? Must they truly act and look a certain way to realize dreams of being the first to go to college, or to become doctors and successful business owners? This film is an excavation of the ways Black women and girls have historically performed, and presently perform for the world while trying to learn and understand who they are, where they came from and where they're going. It's a story about the joys of childhood, the excitement of transition, and how to create your own magic. It's a film about becoming your authentic self.
The Episodics program has four unique shorts that offer a disparate range of styles and subject matter, all hinting at the future stories they have to tell.
Exploring sustainable forestry in the American South through the stories of two Black families fighting to preserve their land and legacy. Family Tree's cinéma vérité approach reveals the vast task of maintaining the land while navigating challenging family dynamics, unscrupulous developers, and changing environmental needs. The forest itself and the beauty of its changing seasons become a primary character in this family drama.
Grab your party pass and jump aboard DJ's new party bus and boogie on over to the Dollhouse Music Festival! Gabby, Pandy, and DJ Catnip celebrate the day by unveiling the brand new party bus, then cruise around to see each Gabby Cat perform all kinds of a-meowzing musical acts from bluegrass to disco pop — each with the “quirky cat bop” touch! For our Cat of the Day, we sing and groove with DJ.
At this annual event, Academy Award Winning Actor Geena Davis, along with an all-star group of noteworthy actors, will reimagine memorable movie scenes through a woman’s lens. A fun and poignant way to explore how refreshing it can be to expand our vision of who can be cast in what roles.
When melancholic construction worker Dan finds himself drifting from his wife and daughter, he discovers community and purpose in a local theater's production of Romeo and Juliet. As the drama onstage starts to mirror his own life, he and his family are forced to confront a personal loss.
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, is rescued by the rebels and brought to District 13 after she shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and Plutarch Heavensbee, Katniss spreads her wings and becomes The Mockingjay, the symbolic leader of the rebellion. But President Snow has his own plans for her - and her loved ones.
One of the most celebrated movie series of all time comes to its thrilling conclusion in the last chapter of The Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen, who began her journey fighting to survive the brutal Hunger Games, and rose to lead the rebellion against Panem''s tyrannical president. Now, she and a team of rebels from District 13 prepare for the final epic battle that will decide Panem's future.
After being brutally dumped, 17-year-old Sydnie discovers she is pregnant. Seeing this as an opportunity to get her ex back and give her life direction, she decides to keep the baby. She soon realizes that this won’t be the quick fix she had hoped for and finds herself caught in a complicated love triangle and totally lost. WORLD PREMIERE
Following the death of her brother, filmmaker Robie Flores returns to her hometown Eagle Pass on the Texas/Mexico border, wanting to turn back time. She collides with unruly experiences of adolescence – quinceañeras, Rio Grande river excursions, teen makeovers and beyond – that invite her to soak up the details of the home her brother adored and she ignored. What emerges is a playful dance between a personal and collective coming-of-age portrait of kids on the border and Robie herself as she rediscovers the possibilities of joy in the aftermath of grief.
Long before he becomes the master of evil, Gru is just a 12-year-old boy in 1970s suburbia, plotting to take over the world from his basement. When the infamous supervillain group, the Vicious 6, ousts their leader, Gru attempts to join their ranks but soon finds himself the mortal enemy of the apex of evil. With Gru on the run, the Minions attempt to learn martial arts to help save him, and Gru discovers that even bad guys need a little help from their friends. Packed with the franchise's signature subversive humor, Minions: The Rise of Gru features more thrilling action than any Despicable Me film ever before!
Afro Unicorn invites all to enter the enchanting world of ''Ms. April's Book and Crown Shop,'' where dreams come alive and young entrepreneurs find their wings. The heart of the story revolves around Ms. April, a wise and charismatic mentor who owns Crown and AfroMation Shop. A pillar of the urban inner city community, Ms. April’s role is to affirm what makes children unique, divine and magical everyday. Along her side is Magical, a puppet with a magical snow globe that can foresee the future. In the bustling town, the dynamic young girls embark on a thrilling entrepreneurial journey. Every episode presents a new challenge for one of the girls, and with Ms. April's guidance, they navigate the intricate world of business, learning valuable lessons along the way.
It’s Jack and Gill’s 40th birthdays, so the long time sweethearts invite their college friends for a night away to celebrate. When couples arrive at the rented mcmansion, Jack and Gill surprise them with an unplugged party, confiscating their phones for the evening. To appease their friends’ unease, Jack and Gill also announce their five-course meal, will be a cannibas infused journey. Lots and lots of cannabis. That did the trick. The dinner’s in full swing, until someone sneaks a peek at their phone and discovers a nuclear bomb is headed right for Los Angeles. Holy f#$k. The pot kicks in right as they realize they may only have 30 minutes to live. Will they survive in the makeshift basement bomb shelter, or will they get nuked?
Melody Brooks is navigating sixth grade as a non-verbal wheelchair user who has cerebral palsy. With the help of some assistive technology and her devoted, exuberant allies, Melody shows that what she has to say is more important than how she says it. OPENING FILM + SECOND SCREENING
A screening of Polite Society, a sparky action comedy celebrating sisterhood and martial arts, to be preceded by an exciting live performance by the Adrija Dance Academy! POLITE SOCIETY: When her demure older sister, Lena, announces her impending nuptials, Ria vows to thwart the marriage by whatever means necessary, believing she is saving her sister from an uncertain fate. Armed with an overactive imagination and a ragtag gaggle of friends, Ria concocts an outlandish heist to protect her sister's independence. ADRIJA DANCE ACADEMY: A renowned Odissi, Bollywood and Contemporary dance academy in Bentonville, performing in multiple prestigious platforms like Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse for CAVS, The Mann, Walton Arts Center, Coca Cola Roxy, World of Dance, Dallas Convention Center etc. Their academy provides regular and special event classes across all age groups and levels in the Bentonville NorthWest Arkansas area. Adrija Datta, Founder and Artistic Director of the academy, has had over 15 years of experience as professional solo and production dancer, show director and an educationalist, having performed at national and international platforms with her professional team. Adrija Dance Academy will be presenting a vibrant and highly energized presentation today. So get ready and gear up for a fun enthralling ride with thier performers. LIVE PERFORMANCE CHOREOGRAPHY: By Adrija Datta, Monalisa Priyadarshini. Instructors: Nidhi Sakhala & Anindita Dewanji
Where does someone turn when facing an unplanned pregnancy? PRECONCEIVED is a raw and insightful look into the rise of the enigmatic crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) pervading America. Shedding light on how many of these centers are a part of a movement striving to make abortion unthinkable and illegal, the documentary explores the complex role of deception, finances, faith, and privacy. PRECONCEIVED follows the stories of two women, Maleeha in Texas and Maria in Colorado, whose searches to terminate their unplanned pregnancies misled them to anti-abortion centers. The film also features testimonies from individuals on both sides of the issue including leaders of the CPC industry as well as experts who caution why many CPC practices are problematic. Amid a shifting legal landscape, PRECONCEIVED deftly navigates the complicated political and moral knot that is abortion access in America and underscores the importance of understanding the resources available to pregnant people.
Queer Pakistani grad student Azra is worlds apart from her conservative Muslim mother. When her father suddenly dies on a trip home to Pakistan, Azra finds herself on a Bollywood-inspired journey through memories, both real and imagined; from her mother's youth in Karachi to her own coming-of-age in rural Canada. Virtual screenings for THE QUEEN OF MY DREAMS are available to viewers in Arkansas only; 100 viewer max capacity; 48 hour viewing
Disciplined high school athlete Dakota Riley lives his life within carefully-designed boundaries, a calculated blueprint upon which he'sformed the basis of his identity. But when the reality of his identity is thrown into disarray, Dakota is forced to confront the consequences of denying himself, or come to terms with who he really is.
Ryan is back for his most epic adventure yet! When his twin sisters, Emma and Kate, get sucked into a mystical comic book, Ryan has no choice but to rise up as the great big brother he is and jump in after them. Adventures, battles, and hilarious debacles ensue, as Ryan and his friends navigate the Titan Universe and bring everyone back home safely before his parents catch on.
Shari & Lamb Chop is the empowering story of a multi-talented, continually underestimated woman who refused to give up in the face of obstacles, lost her voice for a time, and by finding it again, wound up enriching the lives of multiple generations. Shari leaves a profound legacy of lessons to live by in our ever-changing, complex world. Perhaps most powerfully: The more you are a friend to yourself, the better you will survive what the world throws at you.
Genesis P-Orridge lived her art and died three times for it. Persecuted by Queen Elizabeth, a disciple of Burroughs, Leary, Nepalese monks and African witch doctors; Gen influenced and revolutionized music, art and gender - all without most of the world even knowing. At least not the full-story.
A mature collection of darker tales that tackle recognizable human emotions, but with filmmaking flair that ranges from black comedy to cultural mythology to hints of the supernatural.
An assortment of very different short films that center around very different women, dealing with life experiences both trivial and dramatic, some more adult in tone.
A wide-ranging mix of stories, tones and styles that take on everything from K-Pop stars to AI in the workplace to drag queen doctors and beyond.
This assembly of short films has a little something for everyone, as filmmakers tackle stories about fieldworkers squaring off with humanoids, an Ojibwe photographer in mourning, a bullfighter adjusting to the real world, and more.
The movie tells the story of two Brooklyn plumbers who are brothers and best friends: Mario, the brave one with the ''let's-a go'' attitude, and the perpetually anxious Luigi, who would prefer to go nowhere. We open with the Super Mario Brothers reckoning with their struggling plumbing business, and wind up in a whirlwind adventure through Mushroom Kingdom. Through their journey, we meet a cast of familiar, lovable characters, ultimately uniting together to defeat the power-hungry villain, Bowser. The Super Mario Bros. Movie takes what millions of gamers worldwide have loved for thirty-five years and levels it up to a new and breathtaking cinematic experience.
When her only daughter goes off to university, an empty-nest mother gets stuck taking care of her daughter's heartbroken ex-boyfriend, whom she can't stand.
Bobbie is determined to lose her virginity on the day of her 17th birthday, but she will lose more than that. Serious, humorous, and intimate, THREE BIRTHDAYS follows a left-leaning, academic family in 1970 as each of its members wrestles with the contradictions of the Sexual Revolution in the era of the Vietnam War. When Bobbie discovers her mother's infidelity and acts out furiously, she sets off a chain of confrontations that forces her father and mother to face their own insecurities as accomplished middle-class intellectuals. On each of their birthdays, hopes are dashed, and secrets revealed. Culminating on a day of national reckoning, the film sits right in the middle of that uncomfortable place where the personal and the political collide.
Brash businessman Hideki arrives in Montana having convinced his Tokyo bosses he can turn a profitless US cattle ranch into a premiere-performing asset. Yet when his Hardee's-burger-loving Japanese Wagyu-beef expert fails him, Hideki is poised to misfire magnificently unless he identifies a missing element that'skey to the transformation's himself.
The Last Hope Part 1: The Malto Family must overcome insurmountable odds to stop "Mandroid" once and for all and save Cybertronian kind. The Last Hope Part 2: With time of the essence, the Terrans unite to bring down Mandroid''s superweapon and save their family. Aftermath: One year after Mandroid’s defeat and the Emberstone’s shattering, the Malto’s go on a search for the Embershards. When a Decepticon creates a new foe from a broken shard, the Malto’s realize life in Witwicky is about to be chaotic.
Most people dream of a better future. Pedro, an aspiring social worker, is no different. But as a blind, undocumented immigrant, Pedro faces political restrictions to obtain his college degree, secure a job as a health care provider, and support his family. As he finally graduates, uncertainty looms over Pedro. What starts as a journey to provide mental health for his community ultimately transforms into Pedro's path towards his own healing. Through experimental cinematography and sound, unseen reimagines a cinema accessible for blind/low vision audiences, while exploring the intersections of immigration, disability, and mental health.
A widowed schoolteacher in Lahore becomes a viral sensation overnight when she accidentally unleashes her unabashed opinions on social media. This newfound fame as an unlikely influencer comes with its own challenges as she has to navigate archaic mindsets and secret identities while raising her ten-year-old son in a world where women's right to having a voice and owning space, physical or online, is a constant challenge. Presented in partnership with International South Asian Film Festival Canada (iSAAF)
We Are Guardians follows Indigenous forest guardian Marçal Guajajara and activist Puyr Tembé as they fight to protect their territories from deforestation, an illegal logger who has no choice but to cut the forest down, and a large landowner at the mercy of thousands of invaders and extractive industry. Through intimate, character focused storytelling, the film brings the issues to the forefront — from the science of the Amazon Rainforest and its pivotal role in our global climate stability to the economic drivers of deforestation. The film weaves together politics, history, economics, science, and consciousness, providing an in-depth exploration of this incredibly complex and critical situation — the origins and the impact of which ripple out far beyond the boundaries of the Amazon itself. Directed by Indigenous activist Edivan Guajajara and environmental filmmakers Chelsea Greene and Rob Grobman; produced by Academy Award winner Fisher Stevens and executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Sometimes, finding your tribe requires a bit of magic. For attendees of a live action role-playing (LARP) camp in upstate New York, the deeply accepting environment has given neurodivergent, queer, and self-proclaimed 'nerdy' teenagers the space and community for self-discovery that they have never found anywhere else. As the campers immerse themselves in this imaginative world, they discover inner strength, heal from past traumas, and emerge as the heroes they are meant to be, both in the fantasy realm and in real life.
Rayelle Martin works as a commercial cleaner in Gary, Indiana. She's mischievous, playful, and skilled at adapting to her surroundings. One day while at work, Ray is approached by Dr. Neeraj Patel, a therapist who hires her to work as his housekeeper. Who's going to say no to extra money? Not Ray. Dr. Patel then presents her with another offer she can't refuse: a second job cleaning his mistress's home. At first Ray is just an observer, but then, after growing tired of being a witness, she impulsively tells one small lie: that she can speak to the dead. As Ray attempts to gain ownership over her own identity, she finds herself in an odd new position of power.
A series of events during Ruby's freshman year of college send her on a downward spiral, culminated by the arrival of a glamorous alter ego who begins to live a life of her own. WORLD PREMIERE