This year’s Bentonville Film Festival brings with it a variety of riveting indie filmmaking, largely from female creators and primarily specializing in dramas and rom-coms. Below, I have rounded up the films I saw at this festival, including links for their roster I have previously viewed.



Full review at the link.


2021’s Bentonville Film Festival has been comprised of charming and cutesy movies, and Americanish fits amidst the remaining roster very nicely. Set in Jackson Heights, Queens, the film follows two sisters and their cousin—fresh off the boat to “find a nice Pakistani doctor to marry”—as they work desperately to meet cultural demands and find love. This mostly comes in the form of romantic matches: Maryam (Salena Qureshi) falls for a cute guy (Kapil Talwalkar) in her MCATs study group, while Sam (Aizzah Fatima) flounders at work, and their cousin Ameera (Shenaz Treasury) naively tries out speed dating. The difference in societal norms between cultures is intriguing, but overall Americanish is a schmaltzy and simplistic rom-com. It is cute enough to get the job done.


Full review at the link.


Full review at the link.


Full review at the link.


Full review at the link.


What do you get when you mix an Indian housewife and a stoner musician on a wild road trip to Canada? This is the question posed by quirky indie, Have a Nice Life. Jyothi (Jagathi Kamalakanthan) has recently discovered that her husband is cheating on her, and she wants to literally shoot him. On the other hand, Sophie (Lucy Kaminsky), whose grandfather describes her as “a fucking trainwreck,” accidentally shoots a club owner. Now the two must flee together, making self-discoveries along the way. It is your typical road trip movie, replete with comedy of the unconventional pairing. The two women could not have more opposite personality types, and from time to time, their strange situations yield surprising results. My favorite scene in the movie is an amazing and entirely random Bollywood-inspired musical number. Have a Nice Life is a slight, decently charming, and preposterously plotted slice of indie filmmaking.


(Written by Allison Brown) “Fat girls can climb mountains too.” I was initially hesitant to watch Kili Big, but I am so glad I did. The documentary follows a group of overweight women of many ages embarking on a life changing journey: climbing one of the highest mountains in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro. It is a film of such joy, comradeship, and accomplishment. It is impossible to watch the Curvy Kili Crew without smiling. They are so genuinely supportive of each other and provide such a great body positive message. As someone who has struggled with with weight, eating disorders, and self esteem, Ida Joglar’s film was so personally uplifting, honest, and relatable.


Ludi gives us a heartfelt character study and one truly amazing lead performance from Shein Mompremier. Some of it is tough to watch, but there’s a beauty in its honesty. I enjoyed Ludi more than I expected, sudden ending notwithstanding.


Full review at the link.


Full review at the link.


Full review at the link.


This film is very cute, but also very lazy. This tackles so many of the same beats you’d get from a classic Lifetime special, only with stronger acting. The fourth-wall-breaking annoyed me to no end. Anything with Celina’s kid is adorable, and Lorenza Izzo is fantastic. Women is Losers has so much heart that it can be forgiven for some of the flaws.

Bentonville Film Festival, championing women and diverse voices, takes places August 2nd – August 8th, 2021. It is the 7th annual festival from Beetlejuice star Geena Davis. Of the new films I saw here, Falling for Figaro was definitely my favorite! For more information about the festival, please visit the official website.

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