Filmmaker Jeff Nichols announced as keynote speaker at 2024 Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism

View photos here.

Arkansas filmmaker Jeff Nichols will serve as the opening keynote speaker at the 50th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism, taking place Feb. 25-27 in Jonesboro. The opening session is titled "Natural State Storytelling: A Conversation with Jeff Nichols.”

“Anyone who has seen one of Jeff’s films knows that he is a master storyteller,” said Shea Lewis, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “We’re honored to have him join this year’s Governor’s Conference, which brings together tourism partners from across the state to collaborate, network and learn. Jeff will inspire attendees to share Arkansas’ story in their own unique way. We want the world to understand what Arkansans have known all along – that The Natural State offers world-class outdoor recreation, authentic dining, culture, history and hospitality found nowhere else.”

Jeff Nichols, a feature film writer and director born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, started his career with “Shotgun Stories,” a southern revenge drama that premiered at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival. His second feature, “Take Shelter,” premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, won the grand prize at Cannes Critics’ Week, and was nominated for five Independent Spirit Awards. Nichols’ third film, “Mud,” starring Matthew McConaughey, premiered in the 2012 Cannes Official Competition, became one of the highest-grossing independent films of 2013, and was awarded the Robert Altman Award at the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards.  

In 2016, Nichols premiered “Midnight Special” at the Berlin International Film Festival. The same year, he directed the biographical romantic drama “Loving,” which premiered in Official Competition in Cannes in 2016. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for Ruth Negga, two Golden Globes, a WGA award and two Independent Spirit Awards. 

Nichols’ newest feature film, “The Bikeriders,” starring Jodie Comer, Austin Butler and Tom Hardy, will be released June 21, 2024. Nichols is a graduate of North Carolina School of the Arts School of Filmmaking. In 2017, Nichols co-founded the Arkansas Cinema Society and serves as Chairman of the Board. He currently resides in Austin, Texas.

Tourism industry partners from across the state will gather at the 50th Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism Feb. 25-27 at the Red Wolf Convention Center in Jonesboro.

Additional conference sessions will cover creating passionate and engaged tourism champions in your community, outdoor recreation, music tourism and the 2024 eclipse. Secretary Shea Lewis will also update attendees about the latest tourism news and efforts from the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. Other topics include tourism’s economic impact, workforce building and developing an effective public relations strategy.

To view a full conference schedule, visit

Arkansas Tourism
Arkansas Tourism, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, strives to expand the economic impact of travel and tourism in the state and enhance the quality of life for all Arkansans. The division manages 14 Arkansas Welcome Centers and employs more than 60 staff members across The Natural State. For more information, visit

Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism protects and promotes our state’s natural, cultural and historic assets, contributing to a thriving economy and high quality of life. It is made up of three divisions: Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Heritage and Arkansas Tourism.

Arkansas Cinema Society
Arkansas Cinema Society (ACS) is a non-profit committed to building a film community in Arkansas where film lovers can watch films, share ideas, connect with each other, and nurture the new and existing film talent within our state through increased exposure to filmmakers and their art. Memberships are available to the public at large who may wish to dive into educational videos, member-only tickets, movie swag, and more. Those interested in supporting ACS can visit their website at

Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, 501-682-7606
E-mail: [email protected]

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism"