News

Oregon Film, Catching Up with Tim Williams

Tim Williams, Executive Director of Film Oregon is kicking off BendFilm’s #ChangeHappensHere series that focuses on the many ways film impacts our lives.

DP Michael McDonough and Director Debra Granik on the set of ‘Leave No Trace’ which was filmed in Oregon. Photo Credit: Scott Green

Filmmaking is such an unpredictable yet rewarding craft, and it clearly changes our lives in so many ways. For me, this change came quite literally. That is, change in the form of a 27 year marriage that came off the back of a shoot for a mediocre movie (and that’s being generous), and the countless friends, colleagues and stories we both have been luckily enough to gather together along the way.

One of the great things about my job is that I get to see films and meet filmmakers, pretty much all of the time. It’s a good thing I like both so much. By far the best place to get both of these fixes is at this state’s film festivals. I travel a lot around this state, thousands of miles, but it’s worth it. Especially when October rolls around and I get to head out to BendFilm.

Anniversaries are wonderful times to reflect. We’re in the middle of celebrating our 50th anniversary as an office – and I mentioned that not to attempt to over shadow BendFilm’s 15th anniversary, but to highlight the value of consistency, longevity and creative innovation. I wish I could’ve been in attendance for the festival for all 15 of those years – I would’ve really enjoyed seeing the films, meeting the people and witnessing the changes and growth during that time, but, alas, I was in other places doing other things.

One of my favorite stories from BendFilm actually comes from the first time I attended the festival in 2014. I had only just started this job the month before and BendFilm was the first festival I was attending in that capacity. I had been to many, many festivals before that but always as a producer – something I did for nearly 15 years prior to becoming the Executive Director of Oregon Film. On my first night in Bend, I was sitting on a bench on Wall Street just across from Festival HQ responding to emails and checking my schedule for the next screening or event I was supposed to attend when I heard my name being called from a few yards away. This, on its own, was surprising as I had never been to Bend before and it was tough to imagine that anyone in that town or even in this state had any idea who I was, let alone from a distance…at night.

That said, I was even more surprised when I looked up and saw a face from a distant past in the form of Kerem Sanga who worked as a production assistant on a film I produced in 2005 (in Austin, TX, of all places). He also appeared in the film as well (so did I, but that’s a story for another time). He had a small role as a member of a bumbling high school tennis team being coached by a way-beyond-clueless-but-with-a-perverse-heart-of-gold Seann William Scott in a little known and badly titled feature called “Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach.” In fact, I had a clear recollection of him 30’ in the air atop a flagpole in the heat of a Texas summer for a scene. Something he reminded of immediately there on that street in Bend.

Well, it turns out Kerem had written and directed a movie that was in BendFilm that year. In fact, “The Young Kieslowski” won the Audience Favorite Award in 2014 – and as well it should have. It was a great film, and his follow-up film, “The First Girl I Loved” played BendFilm in 2016 and won another Jury Prize there as well as a Best of Next! prize at Sundance that same year. Both are great, funny, wonderful films that you should check out.

So that’s just one example of this small filmmaking world we live in that seems to be centered in Bend. But there are so many others. From a special off-festival screening of “Wild” to the newly launched “Women Filmmaker Production Fund;” from many a filmmakers brunch at Deschutes Brewery to being a member of the audience to hear John Sayles talk about his life as an incomparable filmmaker. I am not only a supporter of BendFilm, but a fan.

This industry has grown from a $5M annual spend and 500 annual jobs in 2005 to a $175M and 4000 jobs annual impact this past fiscal year. And, with the introduction of a new “regional” incentive fund last year, we have seen more production moving into different parts of the state. In fact, as I write this, 2 series and one feature film have just completed shooting in and around Bend. It’s a good time to make films, see films and just be a part of a creative community here in Oregon, and BendFilm can help with all three of those worthy pursuits.

But if you’re still looking for a reason to go to the 15th BendFilm this year I have only two words of advice: “Just go.”

You won’t be disappointed.

About Tim Williams:

Tim Williams has been both an executive and independent producer for more than 25 years and has partnered on projects with many companies in various capacities and locations with credits on many award winning titles. From 1998 to 2011 Williams was a partner, Co-President and Head of Production for GreeneStreet Films, a leading New York based independent film company. While there, he was involved in the production of nearly 30 features, producing or executive producing most of their projects. Latterly, he managed the company’s opening and running of their Los Angeles office followed by work with companies like Fox Searchlight and Film Finances. Williams started his career as a set production assistant and assistant director in New York on features, commercials and TV shows, and then worked for several years producing and directing new plays on the London Fringe in the UK.

Reflecting on 15 Years of Cinematic Fun

BendFilm Walks Down Memory Lane With BendFilm Founder Katie Merritt

 

BendFilm raised the curtain in 2004 with a mission to promote independent film and celebrate filmmakers who tell stories that help spark cultural change.   We caught up with founder Katie Merritt about the early days, what it took to start the Festival and how she feels about it now looking back.

BF: What inspired you to start BendFilm 15 years ago?
KM: A conflux of local and national factors merged with a personal pipe dream and the right timing. Bend was exploding. I’d recently relocated from San Francisco and felt drawn to help Bend’s arts and culture scene keep pace. I felt a duty to lighten the growing pains for this magical place that I and a zillion others moved to almost overnight.  From the national perspective, and as an ardent film and independent film festival fan, I also saw the need to realign filmmakers and festivals.

The festival originally came about to provide a venue for filmmakers whose films may not otherwise be seen. I wanted a concentrated festival where each venue was walking distance or at most a quick hop from the other. I’m less a fan of festivals that are sprawled out at venues disconnected and diluted by miles between.  One of the great riches of a film festival are the serendipitous meetings amongst artists and fans when everyone’s packed into a tight footprint. Once I learned that the classic downtown Tower Theatre was nearly done with a stem to stern renovation, I felt the real heat of possibility. Enough so that I retired from selling real estate to make the time to take a shot at creating this utopian festival I had buzzing in my head.

BF: What was the atmosphere at the Festival like the first year?
KM: I can only account for the perspective of event staff, of course. It was electric. We’d worked for years to create this experience. Long years. Suddenly, time sped up the week of event and all that we’d conceived, dissected, willed and visioned was happening…now! There were panics, system upsets and the like to keep us hopping, yet I most vividly recall the extreme joy of watching it unfold. Of witnessing the joy the event brought to the audience and the filmmakers. I was a mess, honestly. Gus van Sant and I communicated, tussled really, over his attendance for two years and ZAP! There he was. My tongue pretzeled, I had no cogent words to say to him. Same with John Doe who attended as a musical guest. The work of these two men resides deep in my marrow and I didn’t have a blasted thing to say to either of them. Choking, I think it’s called.

BF: What are a few of your favorite memories from the early years at the Fest?
KM: Some will recall the festival in 2004 was headquartered in the soon to be demolished building where the Oxford Hotel now stands. We asked the filmmakers and performers to add their sign to a wall in their lounge area. I cut out the chunk that John Doe signed. Still have it. Wish I had photos of the wall, too.

Also, I still get misty when I think of Mike Hollern and his team at Brooks Resources. The faith and relationship they provided BendFilm went far beyond the generosity of a sponsor, or even a founding sponsor. The funding they provided gave BendFilm life, but it was more than that.

Opera singer Marcia Whitehead performed after her short documentary Laundry & Tosca in 2005. Over dinner later, Marcia told me two mind scrambling stories. The first was of an anonymous audience member approaching her backstage after she sang and handing her a check for $5,000. The second story was a confession that she nearly cancelled attending because she was down to her last few dollars and even though the festival paid most of her expenses, traveling from NYC w/ scarce resources made little sense. She didn’t actually know why she’d actually come. I still tingle thinking about it. I hope Marcia doesn’t mind me sharing this story all these years later!

Screening the Puffy Chair with co-writer, director and star, Mark Duplass was great fun. This was the dawn of the mumblecore genre and all that would become of Mark and his brother, Jay. We dragged a recliner similar to the film’s namesake out on stage and roused Jay over speaker phone when Mark accepted the award for best screenplay.

BF: What do you think about Erik Jambor, former BendFilm Director and now Programmer, coming back to program the fest the 3 past years?
KM: He’s doing a hell of a job. I’m glad Erik’s on board.

BF: BendFilm goes beyond screenings to help develop artists at different levels. What would you tell someone inspired to apply for one of BendFilm’s grants or a young artist considering the Future Filmmakers program?
KM: The book, Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland accounts of a ceramics teacher dividing his class into two random groups. He informed one group that the sole basis for their semester grade would be the quality of their work. The other half of the class was told they’d be graded based solely on the quantity of their work. Come grading time, the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. I suggest that aspiring filmmakers apply for everything, and make everything they possibly can. Park any perfectionism or trepidation and produce!

BF: What film do you rewatch when you need a good laugh?
KM: My ten year old son and I watched/rewatched Young Frankenstein a few weeks ago. I’m still chuckling.

BF: What film do you rewatch when you want inspiration?
KM: Born into Brothels, a documentary film by Zana Briski & Ross Kaufman. BendFilm screened it in 2004. The story is of the remarkable photographic eye discovered when the filmmakers handed cameras to a group of children living in the Calcutta slums.

BF: What does it mean to you to see the Festival thriving now and bringing in award-winning films and filmmakers to Central Oregon?
KM: It means I feel less guilt over the sweat and tumult everyone suffered to kick the festival off.

Truly, BendFilm is like my first child. To see the festival and BendFilm’s mission thrive into adulthood is gratifying beyond words. Thank you, Todd Looby and the Board!  And of course thanks to the artists and amazing BendFilm fans!

BendFilm Production Grant

Win $5,000 to Shoot a Film!

 

Thanks to a grant from the Roundhouse Foundation, BendFilm is offering a local woman $5,000 to shoot her next film in Central Oregon. The film will also premiere at the 2019 BendFilm Festival!

HOW IT WORKS

All women filmmakers living in Deschutes, Crook, or Jefferson Counties are eligible to apply for the grant barring that their film project is shot in Central Oregon.

APPLICATION PROCESS:

  • Submit a complete project application (here) about your film by July 31, 2018. Application guidelines:
    • Director of the film must be a woman.
    • Either Director or Producer of the film must currently reside in Central Oregon or will be residing in the region by January 1, 2019.
    • The film must be shot in Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, Harney, Wasco, Wheeler, Lake or Klamath Counties, Oregon.
    • The film can be a narrative or documentary of any length. However, the applicant must prove that the remaining production funds are secured and that the completion deadline can be met.
    • The film must have a completion deadline of July 1, 2019.
    • The project must credit the Roundhouse Foundation and BendFilm as Executive Producers.
    • The project must include all $50+ Seed&Spark contributors in the “Thank You” credits.
    • The film must be available to World Premiere at the 16th Annual BendFilm Festival, October 10-13, 2019.

DEADLINES:

  • Application deadline: July 31, 2018, at 11:59 pm.
  • Applications will be evaluated starting on August 1, 2018.
  • Finalists will be notified by August 8, 2018.
  • The $5,000 grant will be awarded on August 15, 2018.
  • The film must have a completion deadline of July 1, 2019.
  • Premiere at the 16th Annual BendFilm Festival, October 10-13, 2019.
     

    FAQs:

Are there any limitations on how grant funds can be spent?
Yes. The film must be directed by a woman. The producer or director must reside in Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, Harney, Wasco, Wheeler, Lake or Klamath Counties by January 1, 2019 and the film must be primarily shot in one (or any) of the aforementioned Central Oregon counties.

 

Can the funds be used on projects with larger budgets than $5,000?
Yes, but you have to prove that all additional funds have already been secured.

 

Can actors or subjects be from outside of Central Oregon?
Yes.

 

How will applications be evaluated?
A team made up of BendFilm staff, Board Members and two (2) local filmmakers will evaluate the proposals to ensure all minimum requirements are met as well as for artistic merit.

Now Accepting RFP for Marketing and Development Manager

Join the BendFilm team!  Accepting applications through July 22, 2018.

Scope of Position:

The BendFilm Marketing and Development Manager works half-time in close coordination with and reports to the BendFilm Director. This position also coordinates closely with the entire BendFilm Board and Staff and is responsible for managing all aspects of sponsor, member, casual donor, and customer communication and engagement.

 

This position will design and create current and future donor communications for the purpose of strengthening relationships and increasing giving levels. The Marketing and Development Marketing will also develop and execute quarterly (minimum) intimate engagements with donors, working in close collaboration with the BendFilm Board and Staff.

 

BendFilm prefers the candidate be proficient in the design and execution of traditional program marketing activities such as social media platform management, public relations duties, crafting engaging newsletters, website updates, community outreach and graphic design as needed to create social media posts and website content. The right candidate will have the opportunity to expand this position to three-quarters time in July through October to manage festival-related communications and marketing.

 

GENERAL

  • Work within guidelines set forth in BendFilm procedures.
  • Stay current on BendFilm programs and events.
  • Utilize knowledge and understanding of BendFilm’s mission in all areas.
  • Contribute to a positive work environment.
  • Maintain cleanliness and order in all areas of the office.
  • Other duties as assigned.

 

DONOR COMMUNICATIONS (8-10 hours per week)

  • Working with BendFilm Director and Board, communicate with existing sponsors and sponsor prospects to schedule meetings and develop sponsorship agreements. This includes working with BendFilm Director and Board to ensure Sponsor benefits are sufficient and provide recommendations based on feedback.
  • Work with Downtown Bend, The Old Mill District, BendFilm Director to strengthen the “Business for BendFilm” initiative and guide advertising sales opportunities.
  • Design and deliver member communications to encourage membership sign-ups and renewals. As above, this includes working with BendFilm Director and Board to ensure member benefits are sufficient.
  • Design and execute major donor communications to strengthen relationship for the purpose of continued or increased donations.
  • Identify current supporters (members, sponsors, Independent Women for Independent Film, Business for BendFilm participants, fundraiser attendees and casual donors) to engage at BendFilm events and film screenings for purposes of cultivating new donors.
  • Follow-up with current supporters following events and screenings to thank them and request feedback.
  • Working closely with Operations Manager, manage the sponsor, member and major donor CRM to track activity.
  • Add new donor prospects to donor CRM to track activity and plan future communications.
  • Working closely with Operations Manager, manage all donor benefit deliverables such as advertising, film tickets, festival passes, and special access or arrangements agreed upon.

 

DONOR ENGAGEMENT EVENT PLANNING AND STRATEGY: (1-4 hours per week)

  • Plan and manage at least four (4) fundraising and donor stewardship events, working cooperatively with project leads to reach fundraising goals and objectives.
  • Work with BendFilm Director, Staff and Board to target desired attendees and develop lists for program and event invitations.
  • Working with BendFilm Director and Board, identify and plan event sponsorships and cultivate sponsorships.
  • Provide logistical expertise during the planning and execution of all donor engagement events.
  • Create all pre-event, para-event and post-event materials associated with all events (e.g., bulk mail, save the dates, invitations, programs, etc.).
  • Working with Director, develop and manage expense and revenue budgets for internal fundraising events and assist as needed for external events.
  • Plan and coordinate meetings, agendas and activities.
  • Analyze event outcomes to inform strategy for following year.
  • Working with BendFilm Operations Manager, manage contracts with vendors and other chapter partners.

 

MARKETING AND OUTREACH RESPONSIBILITIES (8-10 hours per week and up to 15-20 hours per week leading up to the festival for the right candidate)

  • Working closely with Marketing Strategists, design and execute social media posts 3-5 times per week via Strategist’s recommended platforms.
  • Write, deliver and follow-up press releases that announce all relevant festival and year-round programming news (10-12 releases per year).
  • Working closely with Marketing Strategists, write and design all e-newsletters on a regular basis–approximately (but not limited to) 24 per year.
  • Working with BendFilm Staff, Marketing Strategist, website designer, and creative agency, update written and graphic website content as needed.
  • Working with BendFilm Director, Marketing Strategist, and creative agency, assist in the development and completion of annual Festival and/or year-round creative design.
  • Work with assets provided by creative agency to design all festival and year-round graphic elements for social channels, the website, advertisements and special communications, such as invitations.
  • Working with BendFilm Programming team, identify and initiate contact with local and regional partnering organizations or promotional partners to encourage event attendance and participation in  special supplemental programs, such as panel discussions and post-screening engagements.

 

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • BA/BS or an equivalent.
  • Innovative, creative thinker and self-starter.
  • Someone who is self-motivated and can thrive working alone and in a team setting, as well as the ability to interact effectively with staff, volunteers, sponsors, donors and the general public.
  • Demonstrates accuracy and thoroughness, displays a commitment to excellence and looks for ways to improve and promote quality.
  • Ability to organize and implement events.
  • Ability to manage multiple projects and tasks efficiently and effectively under deadline while having multiple interruptions.
  • Excellent project and time management skills.
  • Meticulous attention to detail and organization.
  • Be decisive and capable of timely and effective decision making and deadlines.
  • Ability to carry out instructions furnished in written, oral or diagram form.
  • Good written and verbal communication skills.
  • Proficiency and experienced skills with Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Understanding of and/or ability to learn new software specifically related to event and donor programs (i.e. Greater Giving, FileMaker, online auctions, Constant Contact, TeamRaiser, Blackbaud, etc.).
  • Ability to speak on behalf of BendFilm in front of large and small groups and media via TV, Radio, newspaper, web, etc.
  • Proficiency and experience in PR/Communication and Marketing via website and social media publicity.
  • Preferred proficiency or basic knowledge of graphic design software.
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality.
  • Participation in evening and weekend events required.

 

Please email a resume to info@bendfilm.org along with a letter of interest and three references. Applications will be accepted until July 22, 2018 at 5pm. No phone calls please.

Job Type: Half-time and up to three quarters-time from July through October for the right candidate, 5 days off per year.

Salary:

  • Dependent on experience

Experience:

  • Marketing and/or fundraising: 2 years (Required)

 

Education:

  • Bachelor’s (Required) or equivalent experience

 

Job Location:

  • Bend, OR (Required)

Festival to Celebrate Native and Women Filmmakers

This year, BendFilm will expand upon our previous collaborations with Warm Springs, Madras and women filmmakers with the Motion Picture Diversity Program (MPDP). This program sprang from BendFilm’s desire to expand opportunities for Native American and female filmmakers to reach a large and diverse audience. The MPDP gives BendFilm the opportunity to strengthen the social fabric of Oregon’s geographically and culturally diverse population, as well as the numerous visitors who attend the
annual BendFilm Festival, by exposing them to the work of underrepresented artists.

Warm Springs COO and OCF Leadship Councilor Alyssa Macy presents the OCF check to the BendFilm Board.

This program has been made possible by support and partnership from the Oregon Community Foundation ($20,000), the Collins Foundation ($10,000), the Madras Performing Arts Center, the Museum at Warm Springs, Warm Springs K-8 and BendFilm supporters everywhere.

The funds will be used to find and screen up to 12 Native and 12 women-led films in Jefferson County and in Bend. The support will allow BendFilm to host leading Native and women filmmakers for special screenings, panel discussions and film education opportunities.

“This program will no doubt inspire Central Oregon community members to embrace the rich culture of Native and women filmmakers who are under-represented in the greater film industry,” said BendFilm Director Todd Looby.  Because when communities meet the heroes and heroines they see on the big screen, the imaginations of young aspiring filmmakers are ignited.

Thank you, to all who have made this program possible. It is an incredible way to celebrate 15th year!

 

 

Films: Inspiration or Entertainment?

Our second annual The Power of Film fundraiser event is tomorrow, June 2nd, celebrating what we value most: film’s unique power to unite the community and inspire social action.

“Liyana:” 2017 Festival Best in Show

As we prepare for this event highlighting the important work of the Bend Spay & Neuter Project, we’ve been asking ourselves if cinema can change the world (see our recent blog story where we showcased a short list of independent films that tackle real issues), and now, we are exploring the notion if filmmakers struggle to achieve a balance between engaging audiences with real-world problems while striving to also still entertain. And, if filmgoers want to just be entertained or be exposed to new ways of thinking while being entertained.

The 2018 Summer’s First Blockbuster

According to Bloomberg, movie theater attendance in the US in 2017 fell to its lowest point since 1992, and can partly be attributed to a very poor turnout during the summer blockbuster season. There are other factors at play with streaming services provided by Netflix, HBO Go and Amazon, but as producers of independent film screenings, we are questioning if blockbuster films are not cutting it at the box office or with moviegoers alike. Hollywood may push for more blockbuster films but real-world stories connect with and take audiences somewhere different and new.

Ok, we admit, it may be asking a little much to think that a film can change the world, but perhaps what it can do is open a viewer’s mind to an experience outside his or her own and set the viewer on a path toward a broader understanding.

We want to know what you think:

  1. I go to films mostly to be entertained?
  2. I go to films to be exposed to real-life issues? Or,
  3. Both: it’s a balance.

Can Cinema Change the World?

We think so. Each year, BendFilm rallies support to continue our mission of using film’s unique power to unite the community and inspire social action. This year, we are thrilled to be partnering with the Bend Spay & Neuter Project to produce a film showing the human side of their mission. Many people in Central Oregon cannot afford basic food or health services for their pets. These individuals rely on their pets for comfort, protection, mental health and companionship. BSNP understands the important social and healing roles our pets provide and it is their mission to ensure these pets are properly cared for in order to maintain these important relationships while controlling populations of domestic animals to manageable levels.

As we approach our second Power of Film event on June 2, we are reminded of all the independent films produced over the years that have had a positive impact on society and communities, trying to effect social change.

Here’s a short list of independent films that tackle real issues from LGBT, poverty, teenage pregnancy, drugs and climate change. What are some of some of your favorite social films?

 

Recent BendFilm Festival favorites:

  • Omo Child: The River and the Bush, 2015 Audience Award Winner. Omo Child:This documentary tells the amazing true story of one man’s journey to bring about a progressive cultural shift that will save children’s lives in Ethiopia.

 

 

 

  • The First Girl I Loved, 2016 Best Narrative Feature. Seventeen-year-old Anne just fell in love with Sasha, the most popular girl at her LA public high school. But when Anne tells her best friend Clifton – who has always harbored a secret crush – he does his best to get in the way.

 

 

 

 

  • No Man’s Land, 2017 Festival Spotlight. This documentary follows the Malheuroccupation from inception to its dramatic demise and tells the story of those on the inside of this movement – the ideologues, the disenfranchised, and the dangerously quixotic, attempting to uncover what draws Americans to the edge of revolution.

 

 

 

  • Druid Peak, 2014 Narrative Feature Competition. A troubled teen is sent to livewith his estranged father, a park ranger. During his time there, he develops an unusual affinity with and passion for the wolves in a local pack.

 

 

 

Other great, socially-relevant films:

  • Baka Bukas is about Alex, a lesbian who came out to her family and friends,except to her best friend. The saga begins with her best friend knowing the truth, and leads to a deeper understanding of their own relationship.

 

 

 

  • Pamilya Ordinaryo is a story about teenage couple who lives on the streets around and steals money for a living. Life gets even harder when their child is kidnapped. This film addresses poverty, security, and teenage pregnancy.

 

 

 

  • Ma’ Rosa tells of a small-scale illegal drug distribution on the dingy streets and back alleys of the urban jungle and addressing the unending war on drugs.

 

 

 

 

  • Moonlight  is an American coming-of-age story following three stages inthe life of the main character. The film explores the difficulties he faces with his sexuality identity and the physical and emotional abuse he endures growing up. (Side note: the $1.5 million indie film landed eight Oscar nominations and Best Picture and the 2017 Academy Awards).

 

 

 

 

 

Get your ticket to the Power of Film Fundraiser today and celebrate our community’s commitment to change!

In Cased You Missed It…THE SQUARE

 

A new art installation at a Swedish museum is a cobblestone square described as a “sanctuary of trust and caring.  Within it, we all share equal rights and obligations.”   THE SQUARE is a series of vignettes — ranging from hilarious to terrifying — related to questions raised by that concept, one of them being:  What does it take to make people care?

The acting is brilliant, the cinematography is gorgeous, and there is so much to wonder about,  gasp at, laugh with, listen to and hold your breath for.  High wire cinema!

Event Details

Where:  McMenamins Old St. Francis School

When: Monday, May 14th @5:30 pm (doors open 4:30 pm)

Tickets: $12 general admission.  Available online.

Trailer

Musings from the 17th Annual Ashland Independent Film Festival

By Todd Looby

A week after the close of the  17th Ashland Film Fest, it is great to remember how essential Film Festivals are to maintaining all that is good in the world. Last weekend, the BendFilm crew was introduced to things we didn’t yet know, were reminded of things we shouldn’t forget and met incredible people (on screen, on stage and in the audience) who live to keep the light of hope alive. And, we had the chance to celebrate many BendFilm alums who screened their films in Ashland. Filmmaking is strong in Oregon!

Congratulations, Richard, Judy, Aura, Erica and the whole Ashland Independent Film Festival board, staff and volunteers for a wonderful weekend!

We saw 9 great films over 3 days, made connections and strengthened friendships. We are currently making our own exciting plans to do the same in October for our 15th Anniversary.

First of all, congratulations to all award winners, especially 2017 BendFilm alums, Liyana, So Much Yellow, The Last Honey Hunter and Game. So great to see these films still wowing audiences and juries 6 months later.

The program was full of enticing films, but here’s a short, 140(ish)-character rundown of what we were able to see:

Lean on PeteGreat performance by Steve Buscemi and a breakout-caliber performance for Charlie Plummer. Beautiful Oregon landscape cinematography and story of amazing perseverance. Can’t wait to see Andrew Haigh’s next. This one is in theaters (or will be soon) so be sure to check it out!

On Her Shoulders
Nadia is brave beyond words in advocating for Yazidis and bringing ISIS perpetrators to justice, but the main message of this film is that we all have the potential to care and act. Are we going to heed the call? Another great film from BendFilm alum, Alexandria Baumbach.

The King
A fascinating exploration of the Elvis legacy set among a deeper contemplation of the American commercialization of art, charisma and the commoditization of everything that is great. Overall an intriguing and music-filled story of capitalism run amok and the awful co-opting of great art.

Modified
Really engaging examination of GMOs and the legal fight to label food set against the personal story of a mom and her daughter doing all they can to retain the integrity of the food we eat and how we treat the land.

Outside In
2007 BendFilm Alum Lynn Shelton’s latest film about loss, redemption and the human need to connect deeply. Its take-home message is that we must pursue what makes us whole and pure even if it may disappoint loved ones who may want something different from you.

The Blessing
A very beautiful film about a Navajo miner and his daughter. Two characters who seem so typically American, yet their individual and collective introspection is incredibly moving and empathy-inducing. It is a rare treat to see character studies of people like these two individuals and if we are to understand each other, we need to see more like this. I really liked it. Executive Produced by Raoul Max Trujillo.

A Foreigner’s Home
Great doc reexamination of Toni Morrison’s 2006 Louvre show on migration and the power of artistic expression to understand the difficult and to create change. Incredibly beautiful and moving.  

Mr. Fish
A deep exploration of the very best political cartoonist you don’t know, but now will never forget. Mr. Fish takes up R. Crumb’s place as the perfect cynical artist of our current time.

 

Narrative Shorts

So Much Yellow – a beautiful contemplation on the dissolution of a struggling young family while they make a tragic choice. 2017 BendFilm Festival Award-winner.

Aria – This intense Sundance short followed a Chinese immigrant and the daughter of a would-be trafficker who bond while traversing a difficult ordeal.

Unnatural – a really interesting contemplation of a kid with a troubling sexual dysfunction. This stresses the importance of indie film in that stories like this must be told so we can understand the incomprehensible, yet this film is no uncommercial that only an indie director would it. We need to see more films like this!

First Date – Really funny simple short about two enlightened singles traversing the brave new world of Tinder dating. Great performances by Alex Beh and Sara Paxton.

Make sure you attend the nearest film festival to you. Take a weekend to understand what is happening in the world and to reaffirm your place in it!

See you all October 11 -14 for the 15th Annual BendFilm Festival.

 

Alumni News – Greta Gerwig

To celebrate our 15th Anniversary, BendFilm is reaching deep into the archives to catch up on the latest news and achievements of the many talented filmmakers who shared their earliest work with our community.

BendFilm is proud to have supported these one-time emerging artists and is happy to witness their subsequent success!

This list will be updated monthly and members will receive exclusive links to the award-winning work they screened at our festival.


Greta Gerwig
Actress, Hannah Takes the Stairs | 2007 BendFilm Centerpiece Film

Where Are They Now?
Today we are celebrating Greta Gerwig, the star of several recent

Noah Bumbach films and, of course, director of the 99% Tomatometer-approved Oscar-nominated film Lady Bird. You all first met Greta as the title character in Joe Swanberg’s breakout film, Hannah Takes the Stairs–the centerpiece film of the 2007 BendFilm Festival. This film ushered in a new genre of DIY filmmaking and features other now prominent figures in the independent film scene, Actor, Director, Producer Mark Duplass (Room 104The League), Andrew Bujalski(2018’s SXSW hit Support the Girls). Swanberg has directed almost 20 feature length films (he’s 37 years old, btw) including 2013’s Drinking Buddies and Netflix’ Easy.

After this film, Greta became somewhat of an “indie darling,” starring in multiple indie features including the Duplass Brothers’ Baghead and Joe Swanberg’s Nights and Weekends–which both premiered at SXSW in 2008–before landing roles in films by bigger-budget auteurs, like Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg and Francis Ha, Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress, Todd Solondz’ Weiner Dog and Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women.
As she played these memorable characters, she always wanted to tell the story of a young woman much like herself. She spent 10 years planning Lady Bird and finally made the decision to just go for it. The rest, as they say, is history.
As we celebrate the achievements of women everywhere for Bend Women’s March, we at BendFilm salute the bravery, tenacity and true independent spirit of Greta Gerwig. Lady Bird is her first solo-directed film and we can’t wait to see what’s next in what will be a long and successful career.
Hannah Takes the Stairs Trailer
Hannah Takes the Stairs Full Film