BFF’s February Movie Monday screening kicked off on the 18th with Benji The Dove, a tender tale of four boys who rapidly come to terms with school, bullies, friendship, and loyalty. Not limited by a poor upbringing, they tap their immense creativity and imagination to create “The Order of the Red Dragon”, a brotherhood of knights determined to fight injustice.
BFF sat down with Director Kevin Arbouet to discuss Benji The Dove, as well as Arbouet’s involvement with BFF in previous years and his upcoming projects.
Arbouet, born in Long Island, but now a Los Angeles native, has a soft spot for NWA. He is quick to point out that Benji The Dove is great for the values he’s experienced in Northwest Arkansas. “This is a family movie and I liked the aspect of the kids coming together in a town to do some good, and a lot like Bentonville, everyone in the movie knows each other. You interact with everyone very differently in a large city compared to here.”
Arbouet is a two-time BFF Alumni and first learned about BFF while listening to a podcast on KCRW, a National Public Radio member station broadcasting from the campus of Santa Monica College in Santa Monica. “I heard about the festival on a podcast called The Business and they were interviewing Geena Davis and she was talking about Bentonville. I had made a decision years ago that more than half of what I would write or direct would be starring women, so I thought this would be the perfect festival!”
When Arbouet ventures to Northwest Arkansas, he notices a geographic lack of knowledge with other creatives on each coast. “The biggest thing initially was the idea of what Arkansas is and isn’t; Arkansas is beautiful, and the people in Bentonville are absolutely amazing, but that exposed a biased based on conjecture, because every time I tell my friends I’m going to Arkansas, they joke and say ‘Good luck’ and ‘We hope you make it back’. But when I hear that, it shows a lack of communication, and I think BFF is helping bridge that divide.”
Arbouet speculated, his first year in 2016, that the festival would lack organization, but on his arrival, he was happily surprised. “When I got to BFF I was blown away by the level of things the festival offered and how organized a festival in its second year was doing. In fact, I found my producer here, Shannon Macintosh.”
The Q&A with Arbouet after the film raised questions about his upbringing, the book-to-screen adaptation process, and his upcoming projects. Arbouet will focus his next project in the Horror genre, and while Benji The Dove is great viewing for his children and parents, he is also invested in a broader range of topics, spanning from horror to sitcoms.
BFF is one of the only festivals in the US that has a direct impact on spent media dollars. Without the support of committed partners, the festival would not be possible. This month’s BFF Movie Monday is sponsored by Visit Bentonville. For all things to do, see and experience in Bentonville, AR, check out www.visitbentonville.com.