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Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce's Business Matters Breakfast, where the Bentonville Film Festival outlined plans for the 2016 Bentonville Film Festival. During the presentation, the excitement kept elevating as community members heard the plan to enhanced delivery for next year.

Several things warmed up the crowd as organizers presented plans for Bentonville Film Festival 2. The organizers' commitment to providing for the inclusion of local talent brought smiles to the audience. Our community has a wealth of talented local companies and individuals who can add value to this international event. Organizers also committed to find unique ways to make events more accessible for our community. One unique innovation they mentioned is the use of mobile film theaters around the square. There is also a plan to host screenings in venues throughout Northwest Arkansas.

Those two developments are great, but what excited me most about BFF 2 is the commitment by the organizers to greater involvement by kids. If you think about the premise of what Geena Davis strives to achieve -- more inclusion for women, minorities and those with disabilities -- her philosophy and the organization's goals align perfectly with what Bentonville Public Schools has been doing to engage students in solution finding and taking ownership for community improvement.

Bentonville students have been engrossed in problem- or project-based learning for years. This focus on solution finding has led students to have an impact globally and locally. Student projects have had a wide-ranging impact, from supporting water projects in Africa to exploring ways to maintain the beneficial bat population right here in our community.

Students have also found ways to support one another. They collaborated to support a student with a serious vision issue. Student projects created empathy for those who have physical or mental disabilities. One such project grew into an opportunity to influence the development of an X-Box controller for players with diminished use of one hand. Looking for a solution to a friend's problem led a group of students to Microsoft and roles as consultants.

The Bentonville Film Festival's commitment to showcase diversity -- along with the support of companies like Wal-mart and Coca-Cola, and commitments from Nickelodeon, Disney and Dreamworks to help share films -- connects the community and is very exciting for our school district.

How cool would it be if students from throughout this region could produce and showcase their projects and talents through film? Can't you just see our students tackling the issue of bullying in a meaningful way? Who better to create a short film to encourage young women to pursue STEM fields and other traditionally male occupations than our kids? How cool would it be for our students to show how including those less fortunate can be an asset to our future? I can totally visualize our students impacting the community through participation in the BFF 2 in 2016.

The Breakfast Matters event with BFF reminded me of how very fortunate we are to live in this community. I love that we have a national and international event coming in May and that our students can potentially be a solution to the very thing Geena Davis, the Bentonville Film Festival and supporting corporate sponsors shoot for in their targets to make a better world and a better Bentonville.

NAN Our Town on 10/29/2015

Print Headline: Film Festival seeks involvement of youth

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