2016 Award Winners

awards2016web_bestofshowBest of Show $5000

Made possible by Brooks Resources

To Keep the Light
Directed by Erica Fae



Best Narrative Feature
Camera Rental Package (valued at $60,000)

Made possible by Panavision

First Girl I Loved
Directed by Kerem Sanga

award2016web_documentaryBest Documentary Feature $1,000
Made possible by JL Ward Co. and Business for BendFilm!

Growing Up Coy
Directed by Eric Juhola


awards2016web_directingBest Directing $500
Made possible by Independent WOMEN for Independent Film!

Night School
Directed by Andrew Cohn


*Best Narrative Short $500
Made possible by Independent WOMEN for Independent

A Beautiful Mess
Directed by Shahir Zag


Best Documentary Short $500
Made possible by Independent WOMEN for Independent Film!

Directed by Amy Nicholson


*Best Student Short $500
Made possible since 2005 by Dan and Priscilla Wieden on behalf of Caldera.

Spilt Milk
Directed by James Dunstan

*Best Animated Short

Made possible by Independent WOMEN for Independent Film!

Trial and Error
Directed by Antje Heyn

Best of the Northwest $500.
Made possible by Business for BendFilm

The Child and the Dead
Directed by Marc Ripper & Karina Ripper


Additional awards will be presented in the following categories:


awards2016web_audienceKatie Merritt Audience Award $500

Finding Oscar
Directed by Ryan Suffern



awards2016bestcinematographyBest Cinematography

If There’s a Hell Below
Directed by Nathan Williams





Special Jury Award
Best Actor
Tomas Pais

Special Jury Award
Best Actor
Jane Ackermann
NEPTUNE, Directed Derek Kimball

Special Award for Visual Effects

Directed by Tom Teller

Special Award for Originality of Vision
Mira K. Lippold-Johnson

Special Award for Animation
Directed by Rhiannon Evans


Find Filmmaker Inspiration at this Year’s Fest

We asked festival filmmakers for their favorite questions. Read to discover what they had to say…

Veteran BendFilm attendees know that a unique aspect of the BendFilm Festival is our access to filmmakers. Whether you’re standing in line before a film, grabbing a beer between screenings, or attending a panel or filmmaker Q+A, you’ll have the chance to chat with directors, actors, writers, and producers.

Curious about that person who looks like a filmmaker but could be your neighbor? Look for the orange BendFilm Festival lanyards and feel free to be one of Bend’s friendly ambassadors.

Participate in Panels:

Panels are non-ticketed events that are open to everyone. This is a great opportunity to add depth to your understanding of the challenges and successes of the film industry. Hosted by McMenamins Old St. Francis School, you can plan to buy a lunch or a drink while you enjoy the conversation.

  • Networking at Film Festivals (without feeling sleazy). Whether your goal is to play more festivals, build your career, or sell your film, you’ll learn the right and wrong ways to introduce yourself and make new friends. Led by Chris Holland, author, Film Festival Secrets: A Handbook for Independent Filmmakers
  • Please Release Me, Let Me Go – and Get Me on Apple TV and Netflix too This panel of seasoned filmmaking veterans will discuss how they got past projects in front of an audience and what they plan to do next with their festival features. Moderated by Narrative Features Jury member Aaron Katz, panelists include: Stephen Bannatyne (producer, NIGHT SCHOOL), Geeta Gandbhir (producer/director, PRISON DOGS), Ted Speaker (producer, THE GREAT & THE SMALL)
  • Film Fatales: Women in Film Roughly 30% of the speaking roles in the top 500 films from 2007-2012 were given to women. That number increases by 11% when a female director is behind the camera, and by 9% when a female screenwriter is attached to a project. Moderated by CITY OF HOPE producer Maggie Renzie, panelists include:  Stacey Davis (writer/producer, SIBLING RIVALRY; executive producer, LITTLE SISTER), Allison Otto (producer/director, PROPERTY), Dawn Jones Redstone (writer/director, SISTA IN THE BROTHERHOOD), Lila Yanow (producer, COTTON MOUTH)
  • First Features, Then What? Led by indie legend John Sayles, you’ll hear stories of how filmmakers assembled the courage and resources to make their first features and their plans for making a career in film. Panelists include: Michael Curtis Johnson (director, HUNKY DORY), Vanessa Lemaire (director, AN ACQUIRED TASTE), Niko Savich (director, COTTON MOUTH), and Nathan Williams (director, IF THERE’S A HELL BELOW).

Q+A like a Pro

The Question and Answer sessions after screenings can enrich your festival experience. It’s a chance for you ask the questions you really want to know about the film, the crew, or the filmmaking process. We asked a few of our filmmakers attending this year for some pro starters:

“How do you feel about the future of cinema?”

“What the relevance is of your story for a wider audience?”

“Ask about what I’m up to next, this is always a fun thing to talk about.”

“There is an awful lot of music in the film, where did that all come from?”

“What was the most pleasant surprise that happened on set?”

“How do you hope this film will make a difference in the world?”

and every filmmakers favorite question, “Can I fund your next film?”

If you’re worried that your question isn’t a good one, rest assured know that many of them proclaimed, “I actually love all questions!” and “I welcome all questions and comments!”

We’re all about celebrating the brave voice of independent cinema and look forward to hearing yours at the festival.

SPECIAL SCREENING – The Beatles: Eight Days a Week

The closing day of this year’s festival (Sunday, October 9) would have been John Lennon’s 76th birthday and, as a tribute, we’re wrapping up BendFilm with a very special screening of Ron Howard’s THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK – THE TOURING YEARS.

On February 9, 1964 at 8:12 PM EST, after a brief commercial break, four young men from Liverpool stepped onto the Ed Sullivan stage, changing popular culture forever. Seventy-three million people watched The Beatles perform that night – the largest audience to date in television history. It was an event that united a nation and signaled the birth of a youth culture that is still alive today. While this single performance introduced The Beatles to America, the band had already taken Europe by storm the previous year. What the band did next would introduce them to the entire world, permanently transforming the music industry and forever ingraining them into the fabric of popular culture.

This film is the story of The Beatles’ journey to the top of the world, fueled by their live performances, music, and extraordinary personalities – and how they made the remarkable decision to walk away from touring in 1966 to focus exclusively on writing music and recording it in the studio.

IN THEATERS ONLY: Shea Stadium Concert Film

This documentary feature will be followed by an “in theaters only” 30 minute concert film of The Beatles’ legendary 1965 performance at Shea Stadium, with digitally remastered sound and a restored 4K image.

Reserve Seating for Passholders

As a BendFilm Festival “Special Screening,” festival Passholders are able to reserve their tickets in advance to guarantee a seat.

Enjoy the music, the memories and the film together by reserving your seats here: THE BEATLES

Colleen Dougherty Offers Favorite Moments + Festival Insights


Colleen Dougherty has been a BendFilm friend and supporter from the very early days of the festival. Over the years we have appreciated her sustained enthusiasm and understanding of the role that independent cinema plays in our community. An Advisory Board member, we’re also grateful for Colleen’s assistance on the BendFilm Bash Committee.

We recently caught up with Colleen and asked her to share some of her favorite moments and festival insights. She graciously accepted our invitation.

BendFilm: You’ve been a BendFilm friend from the beginning. We’d love to hear a couple of your fond BendFilm memories.

Colleen: One of my fondest memories was in the early days of the festival and attending the opening night tented street party with amazing food and drinks and all sorts of interesting people including the filmmakers, festival goers, Katie Merrick, etc., the energy and excitement was wonderful.  I was so excited to see such enthusiasm and support!  Another fond memory was a couple years back with opening night at the Tower Theatre with an amazing country band from Portland that played prior to the screening of The Winding Stream, which was a tale of the dynasty at the heart of American country music, starting with the Carter Family, an amazing movie!  The combination of the two made for a magical experience.

“I love that it is an amazing cultural event that takes place in our beloved town”

BF: What sustains your passion for the festival?

Colleen: I love that it is an amazing cultural event that takes place in our beloved town and draws so many talented filmmakers and truly brings a unique and accelerated vision to Bend.  I love the energy surrounding the festival, the time of year it is held, the panel discussions, the “meet the filmmakers sessions”, the parties, and especially the times when a filmmaker is able to do a Q + A after the film, that is when you really can get into the creative thought process of the filmmaker and get to ask questions.  All in all, I would say there are many things I love about our festival!

BF: What are you looking forward to at this year’s event?

Colleen: I am looking forward to attending even more movies this year, especially focusing on documentaries.  I am also looking forward to meeting the filmmakers and attending the panels offered as I feel those are as valuable as attending the screenings, they round out the whole festival experience, educating us on all topics film.  

“…if you can buy a film pass, I would do it…”

BF: Do you have advice for the first time BendFilm festival attendee?

Colleen: I would say attend the opening screening as well as some of the opening night festivities to get you in the BendFilm Festival mood and I bet you will be inspired to make the time to attend several other screening throughout the festival.  And if you can buy a film pass, I would do it as it allows for a seamless festival experience and encourages you to attend many movies, which is what a festival is all about!  Also, if you can, experience all of the venues as they all have a unique experience to offer and take advantage of a panel or two, because you get more of a one on one experience that can be quite inspiring.  And lastly, attend the awards ceremony because there you can celebrate the filmmakers being awarded for their craft not to mention it is a lot of fun!

Thank you, Colleen. We look forward to seeing you October 6 – 9th for the 13th annual BendFilm Festival.

BendFilm Opens with Voyagers Without Trace + a special performance by Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists

BendFilm Festival begins with an opening night film that will appeal to all adventurous spirits. BendFilm alumnus and Portland-native Ian McCluskey will open our 13th annual festival with his latest documentary, Voyagers Without Trace. Indie film lovers will also be treated to a special performance by Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists.

Voyagers Without Trace

Voyagers Without Trace, the latest feature documentary by McCluskey (Eloquent Nude), tells the story of three French adventurers who, in 1938, were the first to kayak the greatest rivers of the American West. Newlyweds Genevieve and Bernard de Colmont, and their friend Antoine de Seynes, were three dashing young Parisians seeking adventure. The trio traveled from their homes in France, boldly setting out to be the first to kayak the Green and Colorado Rivers.

Director McCluskey appears in the film as he sets off on the dangerous whitewater to search for any remaining traces of this journey. What he finds is more than expected: the original color film documenting their 1938 trip, unseen photos, a diary… and even one of the original kayaks, held in a 16th century fortress in the peaks of the Pyrenees, with an unexpected connection to the French Resistance.

“This new film of adventure and history seems like a perfect fit with the outdoor loving spirit of Bend and I cannot wait to share the film on opening night. It will be a real honor and thrill to pack into the historic Tower Theater for this special showing of the film and a live performance by Jenny Conlee,” said Voyagers Without Trace director, Ian McCluskey who will be in attendance for a Q + A following the opening night screening.

Live Performance by The Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee

Jenny Conlee of the Decemberists and her husband, Steve Drizos, recorded original music for the film’s score and will be on stage prior to the film to play a short set.

Sagebrush Sisters by Michelle Alvarado

The short documentary Sagebrush Sisters will also precede Voyagers Without Trace. The seven-minute short, directed by Wahoo Films’ Michelle Alvarado, follows three intrepid women, from ages 65 to 80, who hike more than 50 miles following a pronghorn migration path across the high desert.  

Opening Night Party

Plan on a fun finish to the evening at the Oxford Hotel’s 10 Below for our Opening Night Reception at 8 p.m. Rest up film lovers, you’re going to want to be ready for a weekend of provocative storytelling.

Stay tuned for additional information about the festival here on the blog, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

John Sayles & Maggie Renzi Help BendFilm Launch “First Features”

John Sayles and Maggie Renzi

John Sayles, considered  to be one of the godfathers of the US Independent Film Movement, and his creative partner and producer, Maggie Renzi, will be in Bend to help us launch our “First Features” program this October.  “First Features” showcases renowned independent filmmakers, screening the first films that catapulted their careers.

Beloved for films like MATEWAN, EIGHT MEN OUT, CITY OF HOPE, PASSION FISH, LONESTAR and GO FOR SISTERS, the duo have worked together since 1978.

For the “First Features” inaugural year, John and Maggie will present THE RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN (1979), John’s directorial debut and the beginning of their collaboration. John wrote and edited the film, and Maggie is featured in a starring role and served as the film’s Unit Production Manager, Location Manager, and Assistant Editor.

After the screening, Maggie and John will participate in an onstage conversation about the film’s production, their almost 40-year collaboration, and how independent filmmaking has changed from 1979 to today. John will also moderate the festival’s “First Features” panel, leading a conversation with several narrative feature filmmakers also screening their first feature at this year’s festival.

First Features

Renowned independent filmmakers will join us each year for the BendFilm Festival to screen their first feature film and discuss how they were able to capitalize on that film’s success to establish their subsequent careers.

The BendFilm Festival strives to discover new filmmaking talent. We program several feature films each year by first-time filmmakers who display mature and original filmmaking technique and ability. These filmmakers are navigating a very crowded field of new and experienced filmmakers. They now have a much harder time establishing filmmaking careers in comparison to the celebrated independent filmmakers who came to prominence before the digital age.

More about Maggie and John

In addition to her work with Sayles, Renzi also produced Karyn Kusama’s GIRLFIGHT and is Executive Producer with Sayles on Alejandro Springall’s movie MORIRSE ESTA EN HEBREU / MY MEXICAN SHIVAH.  Renzi and Sayles also produced and directed three music videos for Bruce Springsteen: BORN IN THE USA, I’M ON FIRE, and GLORY DAYS.

Twice nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, Sayles remains a sought after screenwriter, most recently working on the writing team for the TNT event series THE ALIENIST. Sayles has been honored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Writers Guild of America (WGA), Modern Language Association (MLA), American Studies Association (ASA), and American Historical Association (AHA) for his authentic depiction of history and community.

First Feature Announcement: Tracktown Film Fatales Filmmaker Competing in Olympic Games

“As a film made in Eugene by Eugene filmmakers, we’re thrilled for Tracktown to be the first feature announced for this year’s festival,” said Erik Jambor as he returns to BendFilm as this year’s Festival Programmer. Tracktown, written and directed by Jeremy Teicher and Alexi Pappas, will be shown as a part of the 13th Annual BendFilm Festival, set for Oct. 6-9, 2016.

tracktown film cover

Tracktown’s co-director and lead actress Pappas, the real-life long distance track star and 2016 Olympic competitor, plays the role of Plumb Marigold, a famous but lonely distance runner preparing for the biggest race of her life: The Olympic Trials. When an injury forces her to take an unexpected day off, Plumb wanders into a bakery where the aimless boy behind the counter catches her eye. Alexi Pappas makes her feature film debut alongside a cast of Olympic athletes and beloved actors like Rachel Dratch (SNL) and Andy Buckley (The Office).

As you tune in to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, be sure to watch for Alexi as she competes for Greece in the 10,000-meter run on August 12 at 11:10am PDT.  Check back here for updates on Alexi’s Olympic races.

Women Filmmakers

“Alexi’s participation is a centerpiece of this year’s Celebration of Women Filmmakers, and we’re excited to have her and Jeremy coming to Bend to screen the film at the festival,” said BendFilm Festival Programmer Erik Jambor.

In addition to running and filmmaking,  Alexi is also the Portland Chapter Leader of Film Fatales. You may remember Film Fatales as the organized founded by BendFilm 2015 juror Leah Meyerhoff.  It is a network of women filmmakers who meet regularly to mentor each other, share resources, collaborate on projects and build a supportive community in which to make their films.

Catching Up with BendFilm Festival Programmer, Erik Jambor


Earlier this year, we announced Erik Jambor’s return to BendFilm as our Festival Programmer for the 13th Annual BendFilm Festival. In addition to his previous BendFilm role, Erik has run and programmed independent film festivals including his role as cofounder of the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in Birmingham Alabama. Most recently he served as Executive Director of Indie Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee from 2008 through early 2015, where he programmed the annual Indie Memphis Film Festival.

We caught up with Erik as we move ever closer to our 13th Annual BendFilm Festival, October 6-9th. Erik was kind enough to give us perspective on film festival programming and a sneak peek into this year’s festival.

Read on for the interview:

Having participated and planned multiple festivals, what sets BendFilm apart?
The town itself! Bend is such a fun place to visit — and with the festival venues sprinkled throughout downtown, the Old Mill district and Westside Bend, out-of-town attendees can really get a good taste of what Bend is all about. It sometimes seems like almost every city in the country has a film festival, so the ones that can take advantage of the city they’re in are at a huge advantage.
What is energizing you about the indie film and filmmaker community, right now?
Technology has made it easier for more people to make movies, which has allowed so many more voices to be heard and, in turn, has given us so much more content to consider. It is especially exciting to see films by first time filmmakers, which is a focus this year with the launch of our new First Features program. Eight of our ten competition features are directed or co-directed by filmmakers making their directorial debut, not to mention indie filmmaking icon John Sayles who will be here with HIS first feature, RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN from 1979.
What are some of the themes emerging from this year’s festival entries?
We’re seeing a lot of coming of age films, and stories about first love — there are a good number of films with a paranoid / conspiracy angle too. We also have some really exciting outdoor films that we’ll be announcing as part of the documentary competition.
What can the first time BendFilm attendee expect from this year’s festival? 
It is a really fun experience — I like to compare it to a music festival, where your pass let’s you explore the lineup and see what you want to see. The big difference is that the filmmakers are as much a part of the experience as the audience. When you see a film, the filmmaker will usually be there to answer questions — and they’re here for the whole festival, so you will run into them in line for other films — or just waiting in line for coffee.
What do you think will surprise (and delight) long-time festival attendees?
I think long-time festival attendees are going to be really excited about overall tone of this year’s film lineup — we have a number of comedies that I think are going to be huge. Other surprises will have to stay secret for now…

Thanks Erik! We look forward to a great festival, the opportunity to meet new filmmakers and of course, we can’t wait to discover what other surprises are in store for our 13th event!