BendFilm Announces Feature Films in Competition for 19th Annual BendFilm Festival!

 

(L-R: Uyra: The Rising Forest, Butterfly in the Sky, The Den)

19th Annual BendFilm Festival Set To Run in Person October 6-9 

and Streaming Online October 10 – 23, 2022

 

Bend, OR – BendFilm announced today the 20 feature films in competition categories from the 19th annual BendFilm Festival running October 6 – 23, 2022.  Many filmmakers and producers are scheduled to attend the festival to host post-film discussions, participate in panels and enjoy Bend’s scenic beauty. BendFilm Festival is recognized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® as Oscar® qualifying for narrative, animated and indigenous short films. 

 

BendFilm will continue its filmmaker-focused efforts to award over $11,500 in prizes directly to independent filmmakers in these competition categories including $5,000 for Best Of Show. Passes are on sale now for the in-person festival events October 6 – 9 and the streaming events October 10- 23. 

 

Todd Looby, Director of BendFilm, said, “The theme of this year’s BendFilm Festival is connection, which is paramount to the human experience. Not only are we looking forward to gathering in person to reconnect with our community, we are also anticipating the discovery of connection to new stories, issues and subjects explored in the vast program. One film at a time, we hope to foster more empathy, awareness and genuine connection to one another.” 

 

Selin Sevinc, BendFilm Head Programmer, said, “We are thrilled to begin unveiling this year’s program which showcases a wide range of nuanced stories, layered documentaries, and artistically daring films. Audiences will see many stories of people determined to carve their own path and fight societal expectations. The notion of self-determination is something all audiences can relate to and cheer for on screen.” 

 

Upcoming BendFilm Festival announcements include potential Oscar® qualifying short films, Spotlight feature films, the 2022 First Features honoree and (Indie) Woman of the Year honoree.  Submissions are now open for a grant offering $10,000 to a BIPOC filmmaker which will be given out after a live pitch at the Festival. 

 

 

COMPETITION FEATURE FILMS SELECTED TO SCREEN IN BENDFILM 2022: 

 

NARRATIVE FEATURES COMPETITION

 

Acidman (USA) | directed by Alex Lehmann

West Coast Premiere

After a decade apart, Maggie tracks down her elusive father, who seems more comfortable talking through his dog Migo, or through Bobby, Maggie’s childhood sock puppet friend. The two awkwardly want to get to know one another, but are scared about what increasing familiarity will bring. After her dad reluctantly brings her on one of his nighttime outings, Maggie discovers his obsession with UFOs. She struggles to understand him, his single-mindedness, and deteriorating mental health, all the while with her own life-changing news to share. 

 

The Den (Italy) | directed by Beatrice Baldacci

Northwest Premiere

Presented in Italian with English subtitles

Giulio has just turned 18 and lives in the country with his parents. He develops an interest in 20-year-old Lia, who moves into the long abandoned house next door. Bold and mysterious, Lia leads Giulio into strange and increasingly dangerous games. Deeply attracted to Lia, Giulio yearns to uncover the secret she is keeping behind her closed doors.

 

The Game (Serbia) | directed by Ana Lazarevic

Northwest Premiere

Strahinja, a smuggler in the Balkans, aspires to buy a luxury apartment to fix his broken marriage. Shortly after, a routine smuggling trip to Hungary is interrupted by border police. Strahinja becomes stranded with refugee teens, led by Yousef, a beatboxer and a hopeless romantic from Yemen. Yousef’s open hearted approach to life makes Strahinja aware of the walls he has built around his own.

 

Jacir (USA) | directed by Waheed AlQawasmi

West Coast Premiere

Jacir, a resettled Syrian refugee, is in search of a new life in a rough Memphis neighborhood. He is faced with a challenging new environment and a host of interesting individuals, including Morty, his next-door neighbor’s cat, Meryl, a racist and opioid-addicted shut-in, and Jerome, a Memphis rapper. Jacir tries to win the affection of a new love interest, Nadia, while dealing with her overzealous father and navigating suspicion from ICE.

 

Sweet Disaster (Germany) | directed by Laura Lehmus

Oregon Premiere

Frida, a 40-year-old German-Finnish painting therapist, gets unexpectedly pregnant and Felix, the father of her child, breaks up with her to reunite with his ex. Frida cannot accept Felix’s decision. Despite some serious health problems due to her pregnancy, Frida insists on winning him back, using absurd, and, sometimes, excessive methods. 

 

Unidentified (Korea) | directed by Jude Chun

West Coast Premiere

In 1993, enormous spherical UFOs appear over every major city in the world. They don’t attack. They don’t initiate communication. They just remain floating above each city. In 2022, twenty-nine years after the UFOs arrive, they have become a part of ordinary life, but there is a rumor going around that some people who look like ordinary humans are actually aliens and the mysterious Alien Mind Control Syndrome has taken hold of people in strange and unexpected ways. 

 

You Resemble Me (France/USA/Egypt) | directed by Dina Amer

Northwest Premiere

Cultural and intergenerational trauma erupt in this story about two sisters on the outskirts of Paris. After the siblings are torn apart, the eldest, Hasna, struggles to find her identity, leading to a choice that shocks the world in this intimate story about family, love, sisterhood, and belonging.

 

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES COMPETITION

 

Bad Axe (USA) | directed by David Siev

Oregon Premiere

A real-time portrait of 2020 unfolds as an Asian-American family in Trump’s rural America fights to keep their restaurant and American dream alive in the face of a pandemic, Neo-Nazis, and generational scars from the Cambodian Killing Fields.

 

Being Michelle (USA) | directed by Atin Mehra

Oregon Premiere

Michelle, a deaf person with autism, survived incarceration in a system that refused to accommodate her needs. Her trajectory changes when she meets Kim Law, a blind volunteer life coach. Today, outside of prison, Kim and Michelle are unraveling Michelle’s history and telling the story of Michelle’s traumatic childhood and her adverse experiences in the criminal justice system. Michelle finds her voice and strength, and her artwork serves as her own depiction of the trauma she survived as well as a means to her recovery.

 

Butterfly in the Sky (USA) | directed by Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb

Oregon Premiere

This is the story of the beloved PBS children’s series “Reading Rainbow,” its iconic host LeVar Burton, and the challenges its creators faced in cultivating a love of reading through television. Not only did the series insist on having kids speak to kids about their favorite stories, Reading Rainbow introduced the world to one of the most adored television hosts of all time. Thanks to his direct, non-patronizing and, most importantly, kind delivery, Burton became a conduit to learning for children of every background, delving behind the pages to the people, places, and things each new story explored. 

 

Of Medicine and Miracles (USA) | directed by Ross Kauffman

Northwest Premiere

At the age of six, Emily Whitehead was diagnosed with leukemia, and the lives of her and her parents were suddenly thrust into uncertainty. Through bracingly honest interviews and home videos, Emily and her family bounce from hospital to hospital, trying to stay hopeful amidst hopelessness, and their fateful correspondence with a doctor whose research could hold the key to her survival. But time is of the essence.  

 

The Pez Outlaw (USA/Austria) | directed by Amy Bandlien Storkel and Bryan Storkel

Oregon Premiere

In the 1990s, Pez dispensers were worth more, gram for gram, than cocaine or even gold. Steve Glew, from rural Michigan, spent ten years smuggling Pez dispensers into the US from Eastern Europe, making millions of dollars. It was all magical until his arch-nemesis, the Pezident, decided to destroy him. Opening Night Film.

 

Sam Now (USA) | directed by Reed Harkness

Central Oregon Premiere

Filmed over an expanse of 25 years, two brothers go on a 2,000-mile road trip to solve a family mystery. Shooting on nearly every camera format imaginable, from hand-developed Super-8 film to Arri 4K, Sam Harkness and his older half brother Reed employ their creative world of fiction filmmaking to dive headfirst into dealing with the issue at hand: Sam’s mom is missing. 

 

Sweetheart Deal (USA) | directed by Elisa Levine and Gabriel Miller

Oregon Premiere

Four sex workers caught in the spiral of addiction turn to a self-proclaimed healer offering friendship and a path to salvation from the streets inside his roadside RV. But just as they begin to rebuild their lives, a shocking betrayal comes to light that will change them all.

 

With This Breath I Fly (USA) | directed by Sam French and Clementine Malpas

Northwest Premiere

At the height of the international occupation of Afghanistan, Gulnaz and Farida are imprisoned on charges of “moral crimes” by an Afghan justice system that is supported by billions of dollars of aid money from the European Union. These two courageous women fight for their freedom against a patriarchal Afghan society, while exposing the complicity of the European Union in censoring their voices, and how the international press (including this documentary) forever alters the course of their lives.

 

INDIGENOUS / OUTDOOR / ENVIRONMENTAL FEATURES COMPETITION

 

Au Revoir (Canada) | directed by Justin Loiselle and Jonathan Ferguson

US Premiere

From a diffident youth to living legend, this is the story of wakeboarding champion Raph Derome as he retires from riding in front of crowds and cameras. Learn about Raph’s competitive family legacy, hear about the brotherly rivalry that fuelled his rise, and witness his last act on the water, the ride of a lifetime.

 

Necessity: Climate Justice and the Thin Green Line (USA) | directed by Jan Haaken and Samantha Praus

Oregon Premiere

This story of climate resistance in the Pacific Northwest brings into view a historical landscape of tribal leaders, Indigenous activists, and white allies as they resist oil trains and terminals in the transport of highly toxic products through critical waterways and treaty lands.

 

Pasang: In the Shadow of Everest (USA) | directed by Nancy Svendsen

Oregon Premiere

The story of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the Indigenous trailblazer who battled racism, gender discrimination, and political opposition in her quest to become the first Nepali woman to summit Mount Everest. Her courageous, tragic journey would greatly move her country, inspiring new generations to reach for their rights.

 

Path of the Panther (USA) | directed by Eric Bendick

Northwest Premiere

Drawn in by the haunting specter of the Florida panther, photographer Carlton Ward finds himself on the front lines of a struggle to save the Everglades from the brink of ecological collapse. The panther is an emblem of our once connected world, a vision of what could be again—or a harbinger of what could befall our planet, if the panther’s path becomes a dead end.

 

Uýra: The Rising Forest (Brazil) | directed by Juliana Curi

Northwest Premiere

Uýra, a trans-Indigenous artist, travels through the Amazon forest on a journey of self-discovery, using performance art and ancestral messages to teach Indigenous youth and confront structural racism and transphobia in Brazil. In the country with the highest murder rates of trans individuals, Indigenous people, and environmentalists, Uýra fosters unity and provides inspiration for these movements in the heart of the Amazon.

 

About BendFilm:

BendFilm hosts an annual independent film festival, year-round film exhibitions and programs, and is the proud owner of the Tin Pan Theater – a boutique arthouse cinema located in downtown Bend’s Tin Pan Alley. The organization is designed to support and nourish filmmakers and enrich the cultural life of Central Oregon while also providing an economic benefit to the region. Celebrating its 19th year, BendFilm is proud to bring diverse voices and visions to the Bend community. The BendFilm Festival runs every October in Bend, Oregon. Make plans to join us October 6-23, 2022 for in-person and virtual cinema plus filmmaker workshops, panels and more. Bend is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, beer lovers and stunning natural scenery. BendFilm is made possible by a dedicated crew of volunteers and generous donors, members and sponsors. For more information, call (541) 388-3378 or visit www.bendfilm.org. Connect with BendFilm on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.