The Broadcast Educator Association’s Festival of Media Arts honored a collaborative project between Bentonville Film Festival and the University of Arkansas Department of Communication with two awards at the Broadcast Educator Association (BEA) 2022 Conference on Tuesday.
Blank Spaces: Breaking Barriers and Celebrating Authenticity in Queer Films – An Interactive Timeline was awarded both Best of Festival in the Interactive Multimedia and Emerging Technologies Competition and Best of Competition in the Interactive Reality Category.
Blank Spaces is one of 19 entries, out of over 1,500 submissions from 300 schools, to win Best of Festival. The short film acknowledges the contributions of barrier-breaking individuals and milestone films that advanced LGBTQ+ voices needing a greater presence in the film industry. A group of students and faculty consultants at the University of Arkansas worked over the span of seven months researching and studying a library of 46 LGBTQ+ films.
The mini-documentary tells the story of seven LGBTQ+ films from 1922 to present day. LGBTQ+ representation in film has always existed but has taken many forms.
“One of the key concepts of this project was to make the user experience as immersive as possible. We wanted to take the audience back to the Stonewall Riots and put them in the shoes of LGBTQ+ filmmakers over the last century,” Assistant Professor Ringo Jones said in a press release. “Even the events that we live through can take on new meaning when we bring them to life with augmented reality. [Augmented reality] can serve as a time machine back to historical events or a catalyst for empathy training.”
The Bentonville Film Festival Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on promoting underrepresented voices of diverse storytellers. Each year, the organization works to acknowledge barrier-breaking pioneers who built the foundation that exists today.
“We are so proud of the work done with this project and feel honored to have such an important piece of work recognized by the Broadcast Educators Association,” Bentonville Film Festival President Wendy Guerrero said. “We hope this project, along with Bentonville Film Festival, inspires young filmmakers and creatives to continue to break down barriers and find strength through diversity in cinema.”
Blank Spaces will exhibit again May 19-22 at The Kaleidoscope LGBTQ+ Film Festival at the Argenta Community Theater in Little Rock.
– from staff reports