Narrative and Documentary Competition Films For the 14th Annual BendFilm Festival

The Competition Categories Feature 20 Films: 2 World Premieres, 3 West Coast Premieres, 7 Northwest Premieres, 3 Central Oregon Premieres and 5 Oregon Premieres


BendFilm announced today the narrative and documentary feature films set to screen at the 2017 BendFilm Festival, running October 12 – 15, 2017.  Selected from more than 1,080 submissions, the films announced today will be juried by a panel of industry professional who will present more than $10,500 in cash prizes across the entire program, including $5,000 for Best of Show. The remaining program categories and the full Festival schedule will be revealed in the next two weeks.

Todd Looby, Executive Director of BendFilm, said, “This festival tagline says it perfectly, ‘It’s All About the Story.’ This year’s films cover a wide range of topics, genres, moods and characters that speak to the story of our current time. There’s something in here for everyone and we know audiences will come away both smiling and thinking. What more can you ask for?”

Erik Jambor, BendFilm Festival Programmer, said, “This year’s line up features a broad range of films from ground-breaking documentaries that bring you directly into to the heart of the story to inventive comedies told from fresh and unique perspectives. This festival is about discovering new ideas and the eclectic lineup is full of surprises for all audiences.”

The Festival schedule is set to go up online soon and will be posted on Stay tuned for more film announcements in the coming days.



Bomb City
Directed by Jameson Brooks
Northwest Premiere | 95 min.
Based on the true story of Brian Deneke, Bomb City is an intense and illuminating crime-drama about the cultural aversion of teenage punks and artists in a conservative Texas town. Their ongoing battle with a rival, more-affluent group of jocks leads to a controversial hate crime that questions the morality of American justice–especially relevant today.

Dr. Brinks & Dr. Brinks
Directed by Josh Crockett
West Coast Premiere | 86 min.
Two estranged siblings are reunited at the funeral of their parents, a couple of crazy doctors-without-borders who rarely stuck around to do any parenting. Though supposedly all grown up, Marcus and Michelle are as lost and self-centered as kids. They struggle with their lack of grief over the deaths, their struggle with each other and their parents’ unwelcome imprint on them.

For Now
Directed by Hannah Barlow & Kane Senes
Central Oregon Premiere | 79 min.
In this funny, beautifully-shot and moving comedy, Hannah, an Australian ex-pat living in Los Angeles, organizes an audition at the San Francisco Ballet Company for her younger brother Connor, a professional dancer based in Europe. Her boyfriend Kane and best friend Katherine join them on their road-trip up the Californian coast, bypassing many wondrous sun-soaked sights… as well as their self-respect.

Infinity Baby
Directed by Bob Byington
Oregon Premiere | 73 min. | b&w
Neo (Nick Offerman) is a researcher whose stem cell work generates babies who don’t age as a service for aspiring parents who never want to leave the baby bubble. His protege, Ben (Kieran Culkin), refuses to commit to a relationship despite his latest girlfriend Allison’s (Trieste Kelly Dunn) persistence to thwart his mom’s (Megan Mullally) sabotage.


Mustang Island
Directed by Craig Elrod
West Coast Premiere | 86 min. | b&w
In the tradition of indie films’ greatest darkly comedic directors, Mustang Island follows Bill (Macon Blair) after his girlfriend breaks up with him at a New Year’s Eve Party, Bill drags his pals to an off-season Texas beach town to track her down. Instead of reconciling the relationship, the group gets wrapped up in the town’s cultural adventures.

The Relationtrip
Directed by Renée Felice Smith & C.A. Gabriel
Northwest Premiere | 89 min.
At an age when everyone around them is settling down and finding love, Beck and Liam are self-proclaimed loners. After bonding over their mutual disinterest in relationships, they decide to go away together on a ‘friend’ trip. And that’s when things get weird. Really, surreally weird.


Mr. Roosevelt
Directed by Noël Wells
Oregon Premiere | 90 min.
After an auspicious death in her family, struggling LA-based comedian Emily Martin (Noel Wells, Master of None and SNL) returns to Austin. There she finds herself in the awkward position of staying with her ex and his new girlfriend until the funeral while trying to close old doors from her past.

The Scent of Rain & Lightning
Directed by Blake Robbins
Northwest Premiere | 102 min.
When a young woman learns her parents’ killer has been released from jail, she is forced to revisit old wounds while discovering the destructive power of hate and the true cost of family secrets fully revealing themselves. Based on the novel The Scent of Rain & Lightning by Nancy Pickard.

The Sounding
Directed by Catherine Eaton
Northwest Premiere | 93 min.
On a remote island off the coast of Maine, Liv, after years of silence, begins to weave a language out of Shakespeare’s words. A neurologist brought to the island to protect her commits her to a psychiatric hospital instead. Liv becomes a full-blown rebel in the hospital where she fights for her voice and freedom.

Your Ride is Here
Directed by Fraser Jones
West Coast Premiere | 58 min.
Over the course of one night in Nashville, a jaded Uber driver chauffeurs his newly-appointed trainee. Along their routes, the two are introduced to a cast of peculiar passengers who break down personal barriers, freed by the confines of a shared car, the dark of the night, and the power of laughter mixed with heartbreak.




42 Grams
Directed by Jack C. Newell
Northwest Premiere | 81 min.
After working at some of the world’s best restaurants, chef Jake Bickelhaupt’s could not find a kitchen to call home. A chef without a restaurant, Jake began cooking fifteen-course menus out of his apartment. Alongside his dedicated wife Alexa, their “underground” restaurant becomes a foodie hot spot. A year later, they take out a lease on an abandoned chicken joint to open a real restaurant, 42 Grams.

Big Sonia
Directed by Leah Warshawski & Todd Soliday
Central Oregon Premiere | 93 min.
When Sonia Warshawski (90) is served an eviction notice for her iconic tailor shop (in a dead Seattle mall), she’s confronted with an agonizing decision: either open up a new shop or retire. For a woman who admits she stays busy “to keep the dark parts away,” facing retirement dredges up fears she’d long forgot she had, and her horrific past resurfaces.

The Cage Fighter
Directed by Jeff Unay
Oregon Premiere | 81 min.
A blue-collar family man breaks the promise he’d made years ago to never fight again. Now forty years old, with a wife and four children who need him, Joe Carman risks everything — his marriage, his family, his health — to go back into the fighting cage and come to terms with his past.

Dog’s Best Friend
Directed by Eryn Wilson
World Premiere | 78 min.
A film for dog lovers and dog haters, Dog’s Best Friend is a portrait of Jacob Leezak and his journey to rehabilitate man’s best friend, one dog at a time. With no fewer than 30 dogs on his property in  Sydney, Australia on any given day, Jacob specializes in ‘powerful breeds like Pit Bulls; the very dogs society would usually euthanize.

Forever ‘B’
Directed by Skye Borgman
Oregon Premiere | 91 min.
In 1974, in the quiet town of Pocatello, Idaho, 12-year-old Jan Broberg was kidnapped by her family’s best friend and neighbor. 18 months later, out on bail and awaiting trial for kidnapping, Robert Berchtold abducted Jan a second time, triggering a nationwide FBI manhunt.

The Last Animals
Directed by Kate Brooks
Oregon Premiere | 91 min.
The Last Animals follows the conservationists, scientists, and activists battling poachers and transnational trafficking syndicates to protect elephants and rhinos from extinction. From Africa’s front lines to behind the scenes of Asian markets, the film takes an intense look the global response to this slaughter and the desperate measures to rescue the Northern White Rhinos who are on the edge of extinction.

Directed by Amanda Kopp & Aaron Kopp
Northwest Premiere | 77 min.
Five orphaned children in Swaziland collaborate to tell a breath-takingly beautiful story of perseverance drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character’s journey to rescue her young twin brothers is interwoven with poetic and observational documentary scenes to create a genre-defying celebration of collective storytelling.

Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much
Directed by CJ Wallis
World Premiere | 85 min.
Ted Slauson is a math teacher from Texas who spent the majority of his life closely studying and memorizing all the prize amounts on The Price Is Right. Ted’s lovable obsession takes him  from bidding wunderkind to banned–involved in a scandal that was covered in Esquire, Time Magazine, and others.

The Promised Band
Directed by Jen Heck
Northwest Premiere | 89 min.
The story of an unlikely group of women from opposite sides of the Israeli/Palestinian border who are set on an unexpected path when an American friend makes them an offer they can’t refuse: to meet in person. In a region where sides are separated not by just a 26-foot physical wall but a social one, meeting is nearly impossible.

The Tenth Step
Directed by Gerry Moffatt
Oregon Premiere | 61 min.
World-renowned Himalayan rafting expedition leader Gerry Moffatt embarks on an exciting 4,000-mile solo motorcycle adventure across the Himalayas for his 50th birthday, intent on exploring changes he’s seen over 30 years of guiding. Inspired to revisit a river that almost killed him 20 years ago, Gerry finds gratitude and closure in the crucible of one of the most dangerous whitewater canyons on the planet.

Revisit Festival Favorites (From the Comfort of Your Couch)

Last week we hosted our final “In Case You Missed It” screening of 2017 before the 14th annual BendFilm Festival coming up this October.  For those of you who want to continue to rediscover these great projects from last year (and who wouldn’t?!), here is some good news:

We tracked down a handful of films from last year’s Festival to see how you can view them from the comfort of your own home.  We hope to continue to add to this list.  Enjoy!


Finding Oscar by Ryan Suffern (winner of the Katie Merritt Audience Award)

Google Play

First Girl I Loved by Kerem Sanga (winner of the Best Narrative Feature Award)

Google Play

Growing Up Coy by Eric Juhola (winner of the Best Documentary Feature Award)


If There’s a Hell Below by Nathan Williams (winner of the Best Cinematography Award)

Google Play

Sea Gypsies: The Far Side of the World by Nico Edwards


Donald Cried by Kris Avedisian

Google Play

Contemporary Color by Bill Ross and Turner Ross

Google Play

Petting Zoo by Micah Magee
(Ok we snuck this one in from the 2015 Festival but still it’s one you’ll want to watch again!)


It’s All About the Story – 2017 Ad Campaign

The 2017 BendFilm Festival comes alive for audiences on October 12 but for the filmmakers and festival organizers, that journey to the screen started a long time ago.  BendFilm partnered with Astir Agency to create an ad campaign that embodied the best parts of the Festival and got audiences talking before the films starts rolling.
Erik Bergstrom, Creative Director answered a few questions to give a behind the scenes look into this year’s ad campaign and the tagline: It’s All About the Story.

What was the inspiration behind “Its All About the Story” tagline for the 2017 BendFilm Festival?
We, at Astir Agency, looked at independent film in the cinematic landscape and boiled down what makes BendFilm’s selections so unique. And what we were left with was the power of story being the defining quality. Film is an incredibly powerful medium for conveying stories and stirring up emotion. A story well told does not rely on a specific budget, studio, or equipment, but instead finds it’s strength from the creative filmmakers, actors and collaborators who are able to get to what matters, making the audience feel something.

Can you describe the ad campaign in 5 words?
Fun, intriguing, and very yellow.

What do you want the audience to think and feel when they see the ads? 
We want the audience to feel a sense of play and curiosity. The ads are one frame from the climax of a scene that can only be completed in the observer’s mind. There is a story behind each image, but only the viewer knows how it will unfold.

Tell us about the models.
The models are adventurous souls ready and willing to do anything. They are musicians, students and mountaineers. At this very moment, Chris Wright, the male model, is in remote Pakistan for the next 6 weeks attempting a first ascent deep in the Himalayas, collecting what are sure to be amazing stories of his own. We promise, no models were harmed in the shooting of these ads!

How did you decide on the three final angels/frames?
Photographer Tim Park did a fantastic job with this shoot, providing us with a bunch of great images from which to create the scenes. The chosen scenes felt full of potential energy. You don’t know in which direction the energy is going, but you know that it is going somewhere… quickly.

What is your favorite part of this campaign?
The entire campaign has been a blast! But, we really love that there is an open ended, choose your own adventure element to the visuals. Part of the fun of experiencing independent film – what you feel and what I take away from a particular film – is so often completely different and unique to who we are. These ads speak to that personalized experience.

How will this campaign “Its All About the Story” continue off screen?
We want to hear and see how each of you completes these stories. So, grab your laptop, writing pad or cocktail napkin and start writing.   Plus, BendFilm plans to share stories from filmmakers and film-lovers about how storytelling enhances their lives.  And there may be some spontaneous iterations of this idea playing off-screen during the Festival so keep your eyes out around downtown!

Rising from Ashes – with Special Guests






Rising From Ashes: Bikers in Attendance!

BendFilm will present two screenings (at 5:30 pm and 8:15 pm) of RISING FROM ASHES, the uplifting and redemptive 2012 documentary by T.C. Johnstone that follows Team Rwanda in its quest to reach the highest levels of cycling while becoming a symbol of hope for their recovering country. “It’s not just about a cycling team,” wrote Daphne Howard in a review for The Village Voice. RISING FROM ASHES “is a testament to what happens when human beings care for one another.”

Team Rwanda is making only its second trip to the United States to race in the 37th Cascades Cycling Classic–July 20-24. Six riders will be at the screenings, including Gasore Hategeka, who is featured in the film, and team captain Bonaventure Uwizeyimana. Also coming are team head coach Sterling Magnell, team director of marketing and logistics Kimberly Coats, and Team Africa Rising founder Jock Boyer.

Proceeds from the McMenamin’s screenings will go toward Team Rwanda’s efforts, not just in developing more Olympic cyclists, but also to its expanded mission to improve literacy, food, water and healthcare in Rwanda.

“When you say Rwanda,” Coats told an interviewer last year, “people still think genocide.” Of Hutus and Tutsis and the mass slaughter of an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 men, women, and children. “Our riders…always say that they want Rwanda to be known as a land of cycling, and not for all the bad of the past. They see themselves as ambassadors of a new Rwanda and proof that people from different backgrounds can come together and race as one team.”

RISING FROM ASHES (Directed by T.C. Johnstone, USA, 2012, 82 min.)

Tickets: $15: 5:30pm screening:
8:15pm screening tickets:

BendFilm Fundraiser










Join BendFilm for the premiere of a short documentary produced in collaboration with Oregon Adaptive Sports (OAS). Celebrate our mission to strengthen the community, to inspire social change and to enhance lives through the unique power of film. Featuring live music by Chiringa!, food by Joolz, beverages by Elixir Wines and Bigfoot Beverages, and, of course, FILM. It will be an unforgettable evening!

Event Details

Where:  Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon

When:  June 3 @ 6pm

Tickets:  $30 per individual or $250 per table of 8.  Available here.


BendFilm Presents | Best of the 43rd NW Filmmakers’ Festival

BendFilm Presents:
Best of the 43rd Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival

Filmmakers in Attendance!

Join us to see eight engaging short films from Portland’s Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival at the Volcanic Theatre Pub on Monday, May 22nd, from 6-8PM.

These well-crafted shorts were selected to showcase the quality, range and vitality of independent filmmaking in the Pacific Northwest giving these independent filmmakers wider exposure.

Portland’s NWFilmCenter Programmer Ben Popp will be joined by filmmakers to present the program and answer your questions following the films.

Event Details

Where:  Volcanic Theatre Pub

When:  May 22nd @ 6pm

Tickets:  $10 (General) $8 (Members).  Available here.

The Age of Consequences

BendFilm will celebrate Earth Day 2017 with a screening of a compelling new documentary that the Hollywood Reporter called “eye opening ” on April 18th at the Tower Theatre.


Director Jared P. Scott, chooses an unusual perspective in THE AGE OF CONSEQUENCES (USA, 2016, 80 min) as he investigates the issue of climate change through the lens of US national security and global instability. With the participation of Pentagon insiders, admirals, generals and military veterans, the film looks at how climate change can amplify social tensions in volatile regions of the world. The film’s goal is to open the audience’s eyes and minds and show that if we all come together, there is hope.


Sophie Robinson, Executive Producer of THE AGE OF CONSEQUENCES, will be on hand for a discussion and to field questions following the film.
“When sectors of power are de-prioritizing environmental protections, it’s important to bring together the Bend community of nature-lovers, veterans, and outdoor enthusiasts to discuss why we all have a stake in fighting climate change,” said BendFilm Director Todd Looby. “A film like this is an incredible way to provoke thought and inspire action on an issue so important to our community.”

Event Details:

Where:  The Tower Theatre

When:  Tuesday, April 18th @ 7PM 

Tickets: $14 general admission. Available now here.


BendFilm Presents | The Great Alone

With Special appearance by Local Iditarod racer – rachAel scdoris

THE GREAT ALONE is irresistible: it’s about dogs, love, fathers and sons, mothers and sons, rebellion, obsession, and one of the greatest and most cinematically stunning adventures on earth–the Iditarod dog sled race.  


“THE GREAT ALONE screening is another perfect opportunity to bring the community together through film,” said BendFilm Director Todd Looby. “And how many towns can say they have a four-time racer among their residents? That’s why we’re excited to host Bend’s Rachael Scdoris to tell us about her Iditarod experiences and her take on the film.”


The Mackey family is Iditarod royalty, not by birth, but by a special kind of Alaskan cussedness. When Lance Mackey was 8, he watched his father Dick stagger across the finish line to win the thousand-mile, Anchorage-to-Nome race by one second. The son went on to become a record-setting Iditarod musher in his own right, far surpassing his father’s achievement. But not before overcoming a troubled adolescence, substance abuse problems, and a dramatic health crisis.


Rachael Scdoris knows Lance, and says that THE GREAT ALONE is “a brilliantly produced documentary that accurately and respectfully depicts the life of a truly wonderful man.”


Director/writer Greg Kohs frames his story with up-close footage of the 2013 Iditarod and pulls the family portrait together with historic race footage, family photos, and interviews so candid they seem overheard. Seamless editing and a haunting original score elevate THE GREAT ALONE beyond the expected adventure-sport documentary to something far more affecting. THE GREAT ALONE has won six festival awards, including Grand Jury Prize winner for best documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival.


Also screening will be SLED DOG FAMILY (4 min), produced and directed by University of Oregon film students Tommy Pittenger, Alisha Jucevic, and Matt Leslie. The short features Rachael and her family, who will all be on hand for a Q&A at the end of the program.


Event Details:

Where:  McMenamins Old St. Francis Theater

When:  Thursday, April 6th @ 6PM (doors open at 5:30PM)

Tickets: $12 general admission. Available now here.


Preview Night of FADE IN | Proceeds Going to BendFilm

BendFilm, Stage Right Productions, and Creative Heart Productions are proud to offer a preview night of FADE IN: A Twisted Tinseltown Thriller with 100% of proceeds going to benefit BendFilm. The play is an original psychological thriller/black comedy by local playwright, director, and actor Patricia West-Del Ruth, set to debut March 31, 2017 at 2nd Street Theater.  This special event invites patrons to the last dress rehearsal of the play on March 30th, with BendFilm as the recipient of all sales from the evening.


FADE IN proves nothing is what it seems when two estranged sisters—one an LA screenwriter and the other a clinical psychologist— are forced to come to terms with their sibling rivalry, a horrific past, and the love they share over a deranged actor. Playwright West-Del Ruth’s sharp script charts this love triangle’s tenacious efforts to cope with the appalling challenges of their shared history, present, and potential future.


Set in present-day Los Angeles, FADE IN: stars local actors Skye Stafford (Venus in Fur), Catherine Christie (5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche) and Robert Marquez (The Pillowman).  This original, spellbinding work according to Stafford is “reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode with the edginess of a Tarantino film.”


“One of BendFilm’s main goals is to partner with local film professionals, indie theaters, and other artists, like playwrights, to help empower people through art,” said BendFilm Director Todd Looby. “When local artists come together to support one another, we strengthen our community. BendFilm is very grateful to 2nd Street Theater and Playwright Patricia Del Ruth for sharing the proceeds from this preview production of FADE IN, and we encourage all of our supporters to come out and enjoy this event.”


Event Details:

What: A play dress rehearsal / pre-view to benefit BendFilm

When: March 30, 2017, 7:30pm, Seating at 7:00pm, doors at 6:30pm

Where: 2nd Street Theater // 220 NE Lafayette Ave

Tickets: $18 general admission. Available now here.  

BendFilm and Caldera Arts Present | Meet the Filmmaker

Tin Pan Theater – March 21 5:30-7:30pm.  $6. Tickets

Jamie Howell, the BendFilm + Caldera March Artist in Residence, will showcase his best films–including an excerpt from the 2011 BendFilm Festival hit, Pedal Driven, and discuss the project he is working on while at Caldera. Join us for a night of films and in-depth conversation about life as a working artist.

Preview Jamie’s Work.