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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Women Wednesday: Geena Davis and the Upcoming NWA Film Festival

Arkansas has been receiving some incredibly bad (and sadly deserved) press of late as a result of patriarchs running our government backwards towards 1950. But on this Women Wednesday, I want to talk instead about the fabulous Geena Davis and her film festival that is coming to BENTONVILLE in early May.

Unbeknownst to me prior to the announcement, Davis has a long history of promoting and encouraging equality in film. Her institute and website, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, highlights statistics, factoids, and other relevant information to bring awareness to the lack of leading roles for women in film. And it showcases work she is doing to change those statistics.

Davis has played many characters that defy gender roles. In Cutthroat Island, she played a savvy pirate captain intent on finding the treasure that eluded her father -- the treasure her uncle killed her father and skinned the map on his head to find. In A League of Their Own, Geena Davis portrays a phenomenal pitcher who helps manager Tom Hanks prove that a woman's place is at home, first, second, and third. Currently on Grey's Anatomy, Davis plays a doctor with a brain tumor who reminds women that sexism is everywhere -- that women are continually discounted and having to fight that glass ceiling. I'm not going to say I approve of that character's every move -- in fact, when she first came on I blogged about hating her character (see here). But a part of me revels in the way that she takes what she gets and does not make excuses or apologize.

I don't think it's coincidence that Davis has sought out these roles that challenge gender stereotypes and turn them on their collective heads. And while I'm probably not rich or famous enough to make it to the film festival in the neighboring city to my hometown, I hope that Hollywood presence sheds a healthier light though the gray negativity that has been plaguing my state.