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Geena goes for girl power at festival

With help from a slew of corporate sponsors, Geena Davis and filmmakers focused on women and diversity have taken over Bentonville, Arkansas, a city of 40,000 best known as Wal-Mart's home base.

While it's not the first film festival to specialise in diversity, Davis said it's the only film competition to promise theatrical releases for winning entries.

About 75 films will be screened over the four-day festival, which will also include panel discussions and a celebratory "A League of Their Own" baseball game, featuring appearances by Rosie O'Donnell and two original members of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League.

"That is one of the most shocking things when people hear it," Davis said. "And one of the things very often they'll say is, 'Let's just change that immediately.'"

A favorite catch-phrase of the Geena Davis Institute is "If she can see it, she can be it."

"In pretty much every sector of society, female leadership has stalled out in about the same range - interestingly, also around 17 percent," Davis said. "It's going to take a long time no matter how hard we work. We can't snap our fingers and tomorrow Congress is 50 percent women.

"But the one area of gross imbalance that can be changed overnight is on screen, because they very next movie somebody makes can be gender balanced."


Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .