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story.lead_photo.caption Harry Connick Jr. and Geena Davis work with a film crew Friday on the downtown square during the Bentonville Film Festival. - Photo by Jason Ivester

Observations of day four of the Bentonville Film Festival:

• Local and out-of-town fans filled the Old High Middle School’s auditorium in downtown Bentonville to watch the first of two early screenings of Captain America: Civil War. The school’s small auditorium converted into a theater gave parents and kids a relaxing and intimate chance to see the latest installment of Marvel’s superhero movies.

• Lunafest screened six short films created by, for and about women in the Vudu Lounge on Friday morning. Films ranged from seven to 18 minutes. Lunafest visits 150 cities to raise money and awareness about women’s issues. It’s also celebrating its 15th year.

• Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art was bustling with activity Friday. In addition to featuring Bentonville Film Festival events, 700 area students explored the facility.

• More than 100 people with tickets to see the screening of Meg Ryan’s directorial debut Ithaca Friday night were turned away because more event passholders than expected showed up. Individual ticket holders had the option of getting a refund or catching a later, impromptu second showing.

“In Control of Her Own Destiny”

The Friday morning panel discussion featured actors Geena Davis, Meg Ryan, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Nia Vardalos.

• The panelists agreed something happens when women seek acting parts after turning 40 years old. Davis said she was making about a movie a year until she turned 40 and only made one movie the next decade. She said she was offered parts, but they were not the parts she wanted.

• Vardalos said when she questioned her female Hollywood agent about why she wasn’t getting more auditions, she was told “Because you are not pretty enough to be a leading lady and you are not fat enough to be a character actress.” Vardalos also heard her Greek heritage meant she wasn’t white or a “visible minority,” limiting her options even more. That’s when she decided to write her own material, crafting My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its sequel.

• Ryan said Ithaca is a coming-of-age movie about a 14-year-old boy during World War II and comes from a very maternal point of view. She also stars in the film with Tom Hanks. “One of the things we can do as parents is raise boys who love and respect their mom,” said Ryan, the mother of a 23-year-old son.

• Williams-Paisley said she believes the landscape for women in television has changed with more “fantastic roles and fantastic female directors.” That said, she said she still sees character descriptions such as, “She’s pretty, but she just doesn’t know it.”

• “This is such an interesting and empowered generation. They created Bernie Sanders,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be a remarkable time.”

Print Headline: Festival notes

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