BendFilm Q&A with Todd Looby

Todd Looby, Executive Director of BendFilm

Todd Looby has served as BendFilm’s Executive Director since 2014. In those seven years, he has led the organization through a pandemic, tripled its scale, and directed the acquisition of the Tin Pan, BendFilm’s independent theater. Outside of BendFilm, he’s an award-winning producer, father of two, and spreadsheet wizard (thanks to his Master’s degree in Civil Engineering). We sat down with Todd to talk about the art that inspires him, from non-narrative film to binge-worthy TV.


Q: What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?

A: I think 2001 was one of the biggest years for me, as far as film goes. My interest in film and filmmaking was at a particularly precarious stage. I had been working as a Project Engineer at Chicago’s biggest construction company and planning my exit from that, not too long after starting, but not knowing what to do. That’s when I saw Richard Linklater’s Waking Life at the Chicago International Film Festival and either right before or after saw his other 2001 film Tape.

Waking Life made me realize that anything can be a film. It’s the first real non-narrative film I had seen and it blew me away. Tape was the realization that you can make an engrossing film with three actors in one room in six days with no crew and a couple of digital cameras. That set me on the path of making my first film. Incidentally, that film was about the day in the life of a young construction manager working on a housing project on Chicago’s South Side, shot entirely in the construction trailer. No one who hasn’t seen that film will see it too, in case you’re wondering.


Q: What is your favorite BendFilm memory?

A: There have been so many, but I think meeting and hosting John Sayles and Maggie Renzi will always be my highlight. When I was making my first film, I read John’s book—Thinking in Pictures—about making Matewan and it really helped me get going. I (like so many young filmmakers) wanted to make socially conscious or relevant narratives in the vein of Sayles. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure his City of Hope inspired my construction movie. Wow! Now I just remembered that I think I saw Sayles’ Honeydripper at the Chicago International Film Festival and I tried to push a rough cut DVD of that first film on him saying it was like City of Hope meets Barney Miller. He was gracious enough to take the DVD which (hopefully) went right into the garbage. 

John and Maggie are also the inspiration of my First Features idea and initiative wherein a now-notable director talks about the trials and tribulations of making their first feature and moderates a panel with festival filmmakers that are showing their first features at the Fest. John’s Secaucus 7 will always be one of the best “First Feature” stories wherein someone with incredible talent and belief in themself just takes a chance to go into incredible debt and risk to make their own film. Most of those stories have a Sundance connection wherein the filmmaker catches the eye of a critic—like John did with Ebert—and the rest is history. It’s also interesting to note that John and Maggie are still looking for financing for a film I think has to be made about the “Carlisle Indian School.” It’s such an important story that (like Tulsa) no one talks about–especially in the wake of the horrific news about the discovery of the bodies at the Indigenous School in Canada.


Q: When not creating, what keeps you busy?

A: Spending time with my kids–8 and 10–and family. This job is busy year-round and there aren’t a lot of down periods. Summer is also a bit busier than other times of the year, so I try as much as I can to get out with the kids. I hear over and over how fast it goes and it is true, but I’m trying to slow down by spending as much time with them as I can.


Q: What are you currently reading?

A: I just picked up Oliver Stone’s memoir of his first 40 years, Chasing the Light. Stone will always be an influence. I grew up entranced by the ’60s and Platoon was one of the first films that I figured out critically in my young teens. If I ever get time, I’ll write about how genius that film is because I never read anything that understands that film in a way I believe Stone intended. Of course, being a ’60s-phile, I watched The Doors and JFK more times as a teen than I have most films in total. 


Q: What is the last show or series you binge-watched?

A: The only thing that I binged and I was blown away by was Enlightenment. It is the only series brave enough to end after two seasons, and it’s brilliant. Trying a few others out, I found that they now build in these really contrived plot twists at the end of season one to ensure the series goes beyond two seasons. Most of these shows start out wonderfully because the characters are so rich, but then they get plot driven and I see through it too obviously to enjoy. Enlightenment is by far a standout in that it had something to say, said it and moved on. Mike White is also such an underappreciated genius of Gen X as well. 


Q: With regard to the pandemic, how has this past year and a half changed you? How will it shape BendFilm’s goals as we move forward?

A: Operating the theater and BendFilm during this time only underscored and reinforced things we already knew or suspected: that if you as an arts organization or business are pivoting, inventing, and improvising with enthusiasm and purpose, that the audience will respond in overwhelmingly positive ways. The thing that is often undervalued or not fully understood, but should never be, is that arts nonprofits provide a direct service that is incredibly important, especially in confusing, difficult, and contentious times. And that direct service is one to our emotions. Many people suffered directly from COVID via the loss of health or of loved ones, many people lost jobs and careers, and many were incredibly lonely. What we heard time and time again over the past 15 months is that our efforts to bring people together safely, in the alley, in the theater, at the drive-in, in online discussions, even our communications and blogs about things to look forward to had an incredibly powerful impact. If there are no organizations specifically catering to bringing people together and stoking positivity, our community can be so easily siloed by other forces with more resources than us. But, gladly, our audience and supporters have been very clear that they back and support our efforts to counter those divisive forces, and luckily, it’s really fun to do–especially with the great board, staff, and community we have.


Open Call for Bend Outdoor Adventure Short Films!


WEDNESDAY, JULY 21st in Tin Pan Alley, we want to feature *your* short films at our next *exclusive* outdoor event with Ten Barrel Brewing in Tin Pan Alley!

What we’re looking for:
– *Short* films that stoke your love for the outdoors & the Pacific Northwest.
– Summer recreation encouraged (but we won’t turn down gnarly Bachelor vids from this past season).
– 10 minutes or less.

– Must be a downloadable link.

– High resolution

Submit your film by sending a download-friendly link to

Submissions are due 7/14!

Selected films will be entered in a 90-minute compilation which will serve as the main screening of the evening.

Join us for a night of local beer, Tin Pan Alley vibes, and some of the best local outdoor adventure films coming out of Bend!

The Art of BendFilm: Meet Erik Bergstrom of Astir Agency

“We are dreamers. We are problem solvers. We see challenges as opportunities. We aim for the unexpected. We have big ideas and we know what it takes to get things done. We are Astir, a digital + branding agency, who works tirelessly to help you find your voice, clarify objectives and create memorable customer-centric solutions. “  – Astir Agency

May 25, 2021 — BendFilm is honored to have collaborated with Astir Agency for the sixth year to develop the look of BendFilm Festival 2021!

In the words of Asitr, the 2021 Festival design (below) imagines “the concept of a tree’s life represented in its rings and imperfections help us to place this year among the others—a bigger picture. Some years feel long, some short, some full of adventure and some spent at home. Throughout the last eighteen years, BendFilm has been a constant spark of enjoyment, inspiration, art, and celebration. And, Oregon’s identity is rooted in our outdoor spaces and symbolically trees. This year we bring tree rings to life in a colorful and playful way, breaking sections apart as if each colored section is a story told.”

Erik Bergstrom, Creative Director of Astir Agency, spoke with us about his work, favorite BendFilm memories, and hobbies!

BF: What are you currently reading? 

EB: The Murmur of Bees

BF: What is the last show or series you binge-watched? 

EB: Schitt’s Creek

BF: When are you the most inspired?

EB: When I am on a surfboard bobbing in the cold Pacific Ocean and/or unexpected moments between the cracks.

BF: What’s one thing that people don’t know about you?

EB: I still have a pretty mean backspin.

BF: What are three things you cannot live without?

EB: Family, music and crafts for sliding.

BF: What’s something you want to be doing in 10 years?

EB: Helping more.

BF: How would you describe yourself in three words?

EB: Hopeful, helpful and playful.

BF: What is the last you movie you watched that made you cry?

EB: Bomb City 

What is your favorite band or song?

EB: “Rebuild a Nation” by Damon Locks and the Black Monument Ensemble.

The BendFilm Roots of Oscar-Nominated Duo, Mike Scheuerman and Skye Fitzgerald


Mike Scheuerman (left) and Skye Fitzgerald (right). Photo courtesy of Mike Scheuerman.

May 10, 2021 — BendFilm would like to take a moment to acknowledge and congratulate the duo close to our hearts at BendFilm – Mike Scheuerman and Skye Fitzgerald, producer and director of the 2021 Oscar-nominated documentary short HUNGER WARD! The film is now streaming on Paramount+.

Did you know? Mike Scheuerman, a Bend resident and BendFilm Advisory Committee member, and Skye Fitzgerald, BendFilm Alum, met at the 2018 BendFilm Festival where Skye was screening his last film LIFEBOAT, which went on to be nominated for an Oscar in 2019.

We are feeling proud! We had the chance to speak with Mike Scheuerman about his Oscars experience, living in Oregon and thoughts on film.

BendFilm: How has your life changed post-Oscars?

Mike Scheuerman: It’s been less than two weeks since the Oscars so not too much has changed other than we finally have time to sleep. Our Oscars campaign was especially intense with numerous screening events from February through April after HUNGER WARD was shortlisted, so now we have some time to rest, reflect, and work at a normal pace.

BF: What is it like being a part of the film industry in Oregon? What is unique about it?

MS: I appreciate the grass-roots, collaborative nature of the film industry in Bend and Oregon and look forward to working with people in the industry here on future films.

BF: What’s next? Are you working on anything post-HUNGER WARD?

MS: We have so much work to do for Yemen with our advocacy partners in the coming months, so our work with HUNGER WARD will continue. The war and famine are getting worse, so we’ll continue to host screening events for awareness and policy change in the U.S., U.K., and E.U. in the coming months. We haven’t decided on the next film project but have some compelling stories for potential films.

BF: In what ways do you feel that film is a force in changing our conditions or in changing how we see the world?

MS: Film is a unique art form that can expose audiences to critical issues that they’ve never heard about and engage them emotionally in a way that initiates action to create a better world. The daily news provides facts and figures that feed us intellectually, but film can move the heart. When people see HUNGER WARD, they are impacted so deeply that they ask us, “What can I do to help?” In response, we provide them simple opportunities to help right where they are in life. That’s the power of film activating change in our world.

BF: What do you hope to see more of in the future generations of filmmaking?

MS: Since COVID, I miss screening films on the big screen — where films like HUNGER WARD are meant to be seen. I hope audiences continue to support cinemas even though streaming seems to be taking over. With the rise of Tik Tok and short form video, I also hope feature-length stories still get told but am also excited to see more high quality short form cinematic storytelling. Young people can pick up their phone or camera and tell impactful stories quickly… I’m looking forward to seeing where the convergence of film and tech go.

BendFilm Awarded with $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts Grant

Bend, OR – BendFilm, Inc. has been approved for a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This award will go toward projects supporting the 18th Annual Film Festival, October 7 – 17, 2021.

“We are extremely grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for their recognition and generous support of BendFilm. This funding will allow us to further invest in bringing powerful independent film and educational programs to Bend,” said Todd Looby, BendFilm Executive Director. “We look forward  to growing the Festival’s platform for first-time, emerging and veteran storytellers alike.”

BendFilm is among 1,073 arts projects across America that were selected in the NEA’s Grants for Arts Projects category during the fiscal year 2021 – totaling nearly $25 million. Including BendFilm, 16 Oregon-based organizations were approved to receive federal funding in this first round of awards. The others are: 

        • Southern Oregon University Foundation of Ashland, $10,000 for a music project.
        • Lane Arts Council of Eugene, $20,000 for a local arts agency project.
        • University of Oregon of Eugene, $30,000 for a folk & traditional arts project.
        • All Classical Public Media, Inc of Portland, $20,000 for a presenting and multidisciplinary arts project.
        • deFreese, Allison A. of Portland, $12,500 for a literary arts project.
        • Miracle Theatre Group of Portland, $15,000 for a theater project.
        • Oregon Ballet Theatre of Portland, $10,000 for a dance project.
        • Oregon Symphony Association of Portland, $25,000 for a music project.
        • Oregon Symphony Association of Salem, $10,000 for a music project.
        • Portland Center Stage, $20,000 for a theater project.
        • Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, $30,000 presenting and multidisciplinary arts project.
        • Portland Playhouse, $10,000 for a theater project.
        • Portland State University, $20,000 for a museum project.
        • Western Alliance of Arts Administrators Foundations of Portland, $50,000 for a presenting and multidisciplinary arts project.
        • Works Young Audiences of Oregon, Inc. of Portland, $35,000 for an arts education project.

For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit

Whew! What a Fest! Thank you!

This year’s celebration of independent film has been fun, therapeutic and unconventional. We relish in creating community around creativity and the human desire to connect.

We are thrilled to share that over the course of the 2020 BendFilm Festival we connected our fabulous indie filmmakers with audiences from 43 states and 37 countries!

Here is a note from BendFilm Executive Director, Todd Looby:

I want to thank each and every one who contributed in some way to this amazing Festival and organization over the past month. I will remember this Festival as my favorite of the seven I have had the pleasure and honor of leading.

Of course this is not the type of Festival we wanted to host and there are certainly more fun and engaging ways of celebrating the transformative art form of film and its makers. However, what I personally witnessed in the generous support we receive from donors and sponsors, the backing from our Board of Directors, the hard work of our staff and volunteers, the engagement from audiences watching at home and at the drive-in, and especially, commitment from all of the filmmakers who dared continue and even double-down on using this unique art form to push us forward is simply remarkable.

This Festival is special mostly because the personal rewards for taking part are not obvious and may never be realized, yet we all did it anyway. We did it because we simply do not accept that the headlines reflect the world we know exists and that the best of humanity is hopeful, underrepresented, and optimistic about where we can and should be. The BendFilm Festival has always displayed glimpses of the future: young filmmakers who will go on to become household names, styles of filmmaking that will be co-opted by the mainstream and stories of characters that will dominate future headlines. The 2020 Festival, however, showed us that there is a large contingent of artists and audiences, though perhaps quieted and working in the margins, are ready, willing and excited to lead us all to a better place.

If you are reading this and have not had the opportunity to enjoy the Festival as much as you wanted to, I implore you research the award-winners and Google the films that will be playing at other virtual festivals you can watch from anywhere. I ask that you revisit a film from this Festival that is sticking with you by hearing from the filmmakers in our wonderful Q&As.

Watch the live pitches from future filmmakers vying for a $7,500 production grant in order to witness the powerful draw of storytelling and giving voice to the unheard. What we all do with our time in this democracy of ideas, art forms, points of view, media options, etc is a vote for our future and I do hope you continue to join us in voting for things like the BendFilm Festival.

Thank you once again for all of your support and your participation!

Todd Looby


2020 BendFilm Festival Award Winners

BendFilm Awards Statue

BendFilm Announces Short and Feature Film Awards for BendFilm Festival 2020

27 Films Awarded Including ‘Warrior Women’ Which Won $5,000 for Best In Show


Bend, OR – BendFilm announced today 27 films and filmmakers awarded jury prizes and more than $12,000 at the 2020 BendFilm Festival. BendFilm will present encore screenings of the award-winning titles in the Virtual Festival Cinema immediately following the Awards Ceremony through Sunday, October 25. The full hour-long Ceremony is available to stream online for free anytime.

The (indie) Women of the Year award in honor of Pamela Hulse Andrews was presented virtually to director Anna Boden. (Half Nelson, Captain Marvel, Mrs. America).  BendFilm celebrated her illustrious career with deep indie film roots, her episodic work in television and her diverse experience in the Marvel franchise. Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck and Andrew Bujalski were celebrated as First Features Honorees during the Festival for their authentic filmmaking styles and impact on the independent film world.

Erik Jambor, Head Of Festival Programming, BendFilm, said, “This year’s celebration of independent film has been fun, therapeutic and unconventional. We relish in creating community around creativity and the human desire to connect.  Thank you for all those who helped make our 17th anniversary truly remarkable.”

Jurors for the Festival include:  Film Critic, Carlos Aguilar; Distributor, Samah Ali; Actress, Amber Benson; Film Programmer, Drea Clark; Film Critic, Tim Cogshell; Director, Patrick Creadon; Producer, Fennel Doremus; Director, Chris Eyre; Director, Skye Fitzgerald; Director, Lara Jean Gallagher; Producer, Peter Gilbert; Director, LaRonn Katchia; Animator, Kent Osborne; Director, Sergio Rapu; Director, Haroula Rose; Director, Eric Slade; Director, Frederick Thornton; Director, Isaac Trimble; and Producer, Aaron Woolfolk.

The 2020 BendFilm Festival Award recipients are:

Best of Show 
Warrior Women directed by Christina D. King and Elizabeth A. Castle
The story of mothers and daughters fighting for indigenous rights in the American Indian Movement of the 1970s.

Best Directing 
Sapelo directed by Nick Brandestini
A journey within a unique American island to tell the story of its matriarchal griot, Cornelia Walker Bailey, and her adopted sons, coming-of-age in the last remaining enclave of the Saltwater Geechee people.

Best Narrative Feature 
Freeland directed by Mario Furlon, Kate McLean
An aging pot farmer suddenly finds her world shattered as she races to bring in what could be her final harvest, fighting against the threat of eviction as the impact of the legalization of the cannabis industry rapidly destroys her idyllic way of life.

Best Cinematography:
Woman Of the Photographs directed by Takeshi Kushida
Cinematographer Yu Oishi
A misogynist photographer discovers the joy of loving a woman by using his photographic retouching skills to help her with her self-identity and self-esteem.

Best Documentary Feature 
Sapelo directed by Nick Brandestini
A journey within a unique American island to tell the story of its matriarchal griot, Cornelia Walker Bailey, and her adopted sons, coming-of-age in the last remaining enclave of the Saltwater Geechee people.

Best Editing
Revival directed by Josefina Rotman Lyons
Editor Will Kitchings
A meditation on aging, dance, and community, the film follows four legendary older choreographers as they strive to create dances with New York City seniors.

Best Indigenous Feature 
Cholitas directed by Jaime Murciego and Pablo Iraburu
Five Bolivian indigenous women are involved in a unique expedition. As a symbol of liberation and empowerment, they propose to climb the highest mountain in America, The Aconcagua.

Best Outdoor Environmental Feature 
The Falconer directed by Annie Kaempfer
Rodney Stotts is on a mission to build a sanctuary for injured birds of prey. A falconer guided by the healing power of nature, Rodney becomes the unlikely hero of a new environmental movement in his stressed Washington DC community.

Special Jury Award for Environmental Insight:
Wolves Return directed by Thomas Horat
The wolf polarizes and fascinates. 150 years after the wolf was wiped out of Central Europe, it is inexorably conquering its place.

Special Jury Award for Documentary Cinematography:
directed by Nick Brandestini
Cinematography by Nick Brandestini
A journey within a unique American island to tell the story of its matriarchal griot, Cornelia Walker Bailey, and her adopted sons, coming-of-age in the last remaining enclave of the Saltwater Geechee people.

Special Jury Award For Documentary Debut
Finding Yingying directed by Jiayan “Jenny” Shi
A Chinese family travels to the U.S. for the first time to look for their daughter, an international student who vanished from a university campus.

Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast:
Materna directed by David Gutnik
A closely observed psychological portrait of four women, whose lives are bound together by an incident on the New York City subway. Cast: Kate Lyn Sheil, Lindsay Burdge, Jade Eshete, Rory Culkin, Michael Chernus, Sturgill Simpson, Assol Abdullina.

Best Indigenous Short
Blackwater directed by Boise Esquerra
Years of reckless alcoholism, a country music star finally hits rock bottom and is court-ordered into wellness therapy with an offbeat group of misfits on her hometown reservation.

Special Jury Award For Storytelling 
Kama’āina (Child of the Land) directed by Kimi Howl Lee
A queer sixteen-year-old girl, Mahina, resides in the predominantly Native Hawaiʻian neighborhood of Wai’anae, Oahu. After suffering abuse from her stepfather, Mahina must navigate life on the streets, until she eventually finds refuge at the Pu’uhonua o Wai’anae – Hawaiʻi’s largest organized homeless encampment.

Special Jury Award For Original Concept
Looking Glass directed by Ginew Benton (Ojibway)
After his father was murdered Benjamin Looking Glass II, a young Native American man, builds a time machine using modern science and ancient knowledge to prevent his fathers murder and ultimately discovers his true purpose in creation.

Best Narrative Short 
A Woman directed by Tahmina Rafaella
A young, modern mother struggles to find her place in Baku, Azerbaijan, a culture simultaneously Muslim and secular, progressive as it is traditional, and like her at a crossroads of seeming contradictions. Navigating the trappings of both conventional and modern female roles, she straddles the space between choice and responsibility where in the course of one day she can be a mother, a daughter, a wife, and still be herself.

Special Jury Award for Directing 
Thank you For Patiently Waiting directed by Max Marklund & Anders Jacobsson
Josef is involved in a car accident that throws him into a roller coaster of memories, large and small. He remembers his severely depressed father in a Santa suit, the angry neighbor shouting during a wild house party, his mother’s unconditional love, and the New Year’s Eve that ended in romance and vomit. Why all these memories appear, and what they mean, he won’t know until the end.

Special Jury Award for Outstanding Performance 
Friends Like That directed by Francesca de Fusco
In the immediate aftermath of a break up, Maia seeks solace from her best ex, Alex. After spending the night, crafts get made and things get weird.

Best Documentary Short
A Head Shorter directed by Sasha Sivan Bortnik
Narrated by Naftali Deutsch, A HEAD SHORTER begins in the spring of 1944 when Naftali and his entire family are forced to leave their home in Kimyat, a village in the Carpatho-Ukraine region, and sent to Auschwitz. The film takes us through Naftali’s journey as a 12 year old boy in the Holocaust and how he survived multiple concentration camps.

Special Jury Award for Directing
80 DEGREES NORTH directed by Brandon Holmes
A group of international artists explore the Arctic island chain of Svalbard. Set against dramatic natural backdrops, the artists share their hopes, fears, and insights on encountering an environment undergoing radical change.

Special Jury Award for Micro Story
River Looters directed by Rebecca Hynes
Three river surfers turned obsessed free divers hunting for lost belongings in the Deschutes River. When not on a quest to reunite people with their lost belongings, they dive for trash. The most water logged and shreddy good samaritans in Oregon.

Best Animated Short 
A Head Shorter directed by Sasha Sivan Bortnik
Animation by Soul Proprietor Studios
Narrated by Naftali Deutsch, A HEAD SHORTER begins in the spring of 1944 when Naftali and his entire family are forced to leave their home in Kimyat, a village in the Carpatho-Ukraine region, and sent to Auschwitz. The film takes us through Naftali’s journey as a 12 year old boy in the Holocaust and how he survived multiple concentration camps.

Best Student Short 
Furthest From directed by Kyung Sok Kim
In 1999, Novato, California, an 8-year-old girl named Jessie is enjoying what little time she has left with her best friend, Lucas. The two of them have difficulty conveying it, but they’re both aware as to what is about to happen. The trailer park they live in will be closed, and the whole community will be forced to evacuate, as a result of the MTBE water contamination. For Jessie, this means facing an unwanted change and learning to say goodbye to that which tethers her to her little pink trailer.

Special Jury Award for Student Documentary:
Volunteer directed by Allonzo Armijo
92-year-old Howard Henry chooses to stay busy and avoid aging by going to work every day.

Special Jury award for Filmmaker to Watch:
Ellie Wen, director of The Missfits
An all-girls robotics team based in San Francisco is taking on the male-dominated field of engineering. They are determined to show other girls how fun and rewarding STEM can be, one robot at a time. The documentary follows The Missfits as they confront growing pains, build their robot, and travel to competitions. The diverse team is made up of twenty girls from high schools around the Bay Area ranging in age from fifteen to eighteen and coming from a variety of backgrounds. On their own, they are outsiders, misfits. But together, on the team, they build each other up and learn to embrace their own identities.

Special Jury Award For Micro Doc
Present Imperfect directed by Kyle Stebbins
Nature isn’t perfect, but that’s exactly what makes it perfect. When we embrace flaws, we create even more beauty. That’s what woodturner Bill Karow believes, and what drives him in his craft: to reshape people’s opinions about the things they perceive as worthless, and to find joy in that process.

Best Of the Northwest 
For the Love of Barb directed by Will Cuddy and Zach Feiner,
A deceased lover leaves behind a bit of romance for a ferocious meeting between her suitors.

The Katie Merritt Audience Awards:

The Katie Merritt Audience Award, Narrative Feature

The Katie Merritt Audience Award, Documentary Feature

The Katie Merritt Audience Award, Narrative Short

The Katie Merritt Audience Award, Documentary Short

The Katie Merritt Audience Award, Local Focus


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 17th 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 8-25, 2020 for virtual and drive-in cinema, virtual filmmaker conversations 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 Connect with BendFilm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

BendFilm Festival Digest 

With more than 100 films to stream from home or see at the Drive-In, the 2020 BendFilm Festival has something for everyone.  Check out these groups/themes of films to help you find the stories that interest you:

Oregon Connections

  • The Dark Divide
  • The Younger and the Last of the Vengeants
  • I Will Make You Mine
  • With Spirit
  • Samuel Boardman: The Father of Oregon State Parks
  • Local Focus Shorts
  • The Last Blockbuster

Films To Watch In An Election Year:

  • After Selma
  • Can you Hear Us Now
  • Personhood


  • The Falconer
  • Samuel Boardman: The Father of Oregon State Parks
  • A Moment In The Sun
  • Spawning Grounds
  • Wolves Return
  • With Spirit
  • Cholitas

Los Hermanos / The Brothers – Aldo and Ilmar Gavilan play at Jarvis Hall, Napa


  • Los Hermanos / The Brothers
  • This Is Tim: A Musical Life
  • Billie
  • It’s Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story
  • American Reject
  • Jimmy Carter Rock and Roll President
  • Chuck Berry

Comedies / Lighthearted

  • Dead
  • The Dark Divide
  • Golden Arm
  • The Last Blockbuster
  • The Planters
  • The Younger and the Last of the Vengeants
  • American Reject
  • Full Realized Humans – (adult comedy, “R” equivalent for language and sexual themes and content)
  • I Will Make You Mine
  • Milkwater – (adult comedy, “R” equivalent for language and sexual themes and content)
  • Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story
  • Playing For Keeps: The Upside of Downtime
  • Revival
  • This is Tim: A Musical Life

Diverse Representation / Global Stories

  • Cholitas
  • The Falconer
  • Indigenous Shorts Program
  • Sisterhood Media Short Film Distribution convo
  • BIPOC filmmaker panel
  • I Will Make You Mine
  • Ahead of the Curve
  • Milkwater
  • After Selma
  • Warrior Women
  • Spawning Grounds
  • Narrative Foreign Language Shorts


2020 BendFilm Festival Jury

BendFilm Announces The Jury For 17th Annual BendFilm Festival


Filmmakers, Industry Executives, Actors, and Media Members To Give Out $12,500 in Prizes Throughout the 17th Annual BendFilm Festival


Bend, OR – BendFilm, Central Oregon’s premier and internationally celebrated Film Festival, has announced 18 artists, journalists, executives and cultural leaders who will award $12,500 in cash prizes –  including $5,000 cash for “Best of Show” to short and feature films during the 17th annual BendFilm Festival. 


Jurors will announce the awards in a ceremony on Saturday October 12. Select jurors will also help with Festival events including panels, guided discussions and the Future Filmmakers program for student storytellers.

Narrative Features Jury
Originally from Mexico City, Carlos Aguilar was chosen as one of 6 young film critics to partake in the first Roger Ebert Fellowship organized by, the Sundance Institute, and Indiewire in 2014. His work has appeared in prestigious publications such as Los Angeles Times, Variety, The New York Times, The Wrap, Indiewire, Vulture,, The Daily Beast, MovieMaker Magazine, Remezcla, Filmmaker Magazine, Slate, Bustle, Americas Quarterly, among others. Carlos is a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA).

Narrative Features Jury
Drea Clark is a longtime film festival programmer, currently at Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival and Sundance, and previously with Slamdance and LA Film Fest, where she served as Senior Programmer.  As a producer, Drea has released three independent features. Mo Perkins’ THE LAST TIME YOU HAD FUN, Mike Ott’s LAKE LOS ANGELES, and Amber Sealey’s NO LIGHT AND NO LAND ANYWHERE, executive produced by Miranda July. She’s also produced numerous shorts, music videos, web series, and a pilot for FX titled WE’RE GOOD THANKS. She is currently Producer-in-Residence at Film Independent. Drea co-hosts Who Shot Ya, a movie podcast that’s not just straight white guys, on Maximum Fun, and Ticklish Business, a podcast devoted to honoring and deconstructing classic cinema.

Narrative Features Jury
Lara Jean Gallagher is a writer and director originally from rural Pennsylvania. She earned her Directing MFA from Columbia University and was named one of IFP’s 2015 Emerging Storytellers. Her award-winning shorts and music videos have screened at SXSW, Palm Springs Shortfest, Mill Valley, Portland International, and online via Pitchfork, Spin, Rolling Stone, and NPR, among others. Her debut feature film, CLEMENTINE, premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and was made with the support of the Venice Biennale College-Cinema, the Sundance Institute, Film Independent, and IFP. CLEMENTINE won awards for Best Cinematography and Best Narrative Feature at the 2019 BendFilm Festival and had its virtual theatrical release in May 2020 by Oscilloscope Laboratories. Most recently, Lara’s coming-of-age horror script, RED MOTHER was awarded the Westridge Grant from the San Francisco Film Society.

Documentary Features Jury
Tim Cogshell is a veteran film critic with over 30 years of experience working for national print, broadcast, and internet media concerns, including; NPR, KNBC Los Angeles, Spectrum News 1, FOX 11 News, Box Office Magazine and The Wrap among others.  Tim is a regular on KPCC’s FilmWeek with Larry Mantle, and co-host of the CineGods podcast.

Documentary Features Jury
Peter Gilbert served as the Director of Photography for the award-winning film Hoop Dreams.  Peter Gilbert has had a distinguished career in producing, directing, and photographing documentaries, feature films, commercials, and music videos. In 2004, he Produced and Directed, With All Deliberate Speed, the first work in the new series “Discovery Docs,” for the Discovery Network. The nationally released film portrays the drama of the monumental Brown V. Board Supreme Court decision that helped change the racial fabric of our country in 1954. The film has performances by Jeffery Wright, Mekhi Phifer, Larenz Tate, Joe Morton, and Alicia Keys. With All Deliberate Speed was nominated for a Prime Time Emmy for Distinguished Work in Non- Fiction Film.

Documentary Features Jury
Fenell Doremus is an award-winning producer based in Chicago. Most recently, she produced COOKED: SURVIVAL BY ZIP CODE (BendFilm 2019), which was broadcast nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens (2020). Prior to that, she co-produced the Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning, ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL (2017).  Other past credits include coordinating producers on RINGSIDE (Motto Pictures 2020) and THE CALLING (The Kindling Group 2010); producer/director/editor on A YEAR ON TEEN STREET (2005) a WTTW-Kartemquin co-production and segment producer/co-editor of THE NEW AMERICANS (2004), broadcast nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens. Fenell has a long association with Kartemquin Films, as staff producer 1994-2002 and currently serves on the board. She is an active member of the Documentary Producers Alliance and is currently Co-Rep of Regional Midwest/Co-Chair of the Regional Committee.

Outdoor/Environmental Features Jury
Patrick Creadon’s feature projects have been screened at film festivals all over the country, including Sundance, Tribeca, and Slamdance. His directorial debut WORDPLAY, premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and went on to become the second-highest-grossing documentary of 2006. Other films include I.O.U.S.A. (2008), IF YOU BUILD IT (2014), ALL WORK ALL PLAY (2015), and an installment about Notre Dame football for ESPN’s award-winning documentary series “30 for 30” (2016). His critically acclaimed documentary, HESBURGH (2018), about the legendary long-time president of the University of Notre Dame, will see its theatrical release in 2019. His latest film, SKI BUM: THE WARREN MILLER STORY (BendFilm 2019), had its World Premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival.

Outdoor/Environmental Features Jury
Native Rapanui (Easter Island) filmmaker Sergio Mata’u Rapu has spent the last 15 years shooting and producing documentaries that have aired on History Channel, Travel, National Geographic, and PBS. His latest feature film, EATING UP EASTER (BendFilm 2019), focuses on the social and environmental issues plaguing his island home due to a booming tourism industry. The award-winning film was broadcast on ARTE in France and Germany and PBS’s Independent Lens in the US while continuing a robust impact campaign to engage communities on topics of waste reduction and environmental conservation. Through his work, Sergio aims to show the diversity of life through thought-provoking media to inspire resolutions to social, economic, and environmental conflicts.

Outdoor/Environmental Features Jury
Frederick Thornton is a Spirit Award-nominated and Gotham Award-winning African American filmmaker. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Frederick cites growing up watching his father make home videos and his mother writing short stories as his inspiration for wanting to be a filmmaker. Thornton is a fellow of IFP Film Week as well as Project Involve and the Producing Lab for Film Independent. Frederick is a graduate of Chapman University, where he completed a BA in Psychology. His latest produced film, GO BACK TO CHINA, premiered at SXSW in 2019 and features Anna Akana in the lead role.

Indigenous Films Jury
Chris Eyre directed the highly-acclaimed feature Smoke Signals, which won both the Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. His other films include Skins, Skinwalkers, A Thief of Time, Hideaway, and Edge of America, which garnered him the prestigious DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement from the Director’s Guild of America.

Indigenous Films Jury
LaRonn Katchia is a 27 year-old Warm Springs/Wasco/Paiute tribal member of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and is currently pursuing a filmmaking career in Portland. His love and passion for film resides from the influence of the commonly mistreated portrayal of Native Americans in Hollywood films today. His mission is to change the Native stereotypes of film and get it right this time by showcasing the Native American perspective in film and creating original stories filmed by Native directors.

Indigenous Films Jury
Isaac Trimble is a well known Native American flute artist and film producer based in the Pacific Northwest. Isaac’s dedication to community and artistry has led him to receive a lifetime achievement award for music and many film recognitions. In 2017, Isaac produced Missing Indigenous, winner of that year’s Portland 48hour Film Festival, highlighting the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. The film went on to premiere at Filmapalooza in Paris, France. Currently Isaac is pursuing a graduate degree program in film while working on short films and preparing for his first feature film.

Narrative Shorts Jury and Student Animated Shorts Jury
Kent Osborne is a 20-year veteran of animated television, most notably “Spongebob Squarepants” and “Adventure Time.” Kent has also appeared in numerous independent films including UNCLE KENT and UNCLE KENT 2.

Narrative Shorts Jury
Haroula Rose is a filmmaker and musician.  Her debut ONCE UPON A RIVER (BendFilm 2019), was called “one of the most anticipated films” by FILMMAKER, winning 19 awards at 40 festivals worldwide and is being released in October by Film Movement.  Her pilot LOST & FOUND had its world premiere at Tribeca, and was “not to be missed,” according to the New York Times.  She is currently shooting a documentary and developing her second fiction feature film as writer and director. Rose’s work has been supported by a Fulbright Fellowship in Madrid, Nantucket Screenwriters Colony, WarnerMedia, Warner Brothers Directing Workshop, and Tribeca All Access.  She received her BA and MA from the University of Chicago and attended USC’s MFA program. Rose’s short films include AS THEY SLEPT, WEDDING DRESS, NO LOVE SONG, and BABY CRAZY.  As a producer she has worked on films such as FRUITVALE STATION, THE FEAR OF THIRTEEN, HEAVEN ADORES YOU, SAINT FRANCES as well as many others. Rose’s songs can be heard in many films, series, theater productions and commercials.  She has toured internationally and released two LPs, two EPs, remixes, and compositions through Thirty Tigers in Nashville and her label Little Bliss Records.  Her third LP and EP are both being released fall 2020.

Narrative Shorts Jury and Student Animated Shorts Jury
Aaron Woolfolk wrote, directed, and produced the award-winning T-Joy Co./Toei Company, Ltd. feature film The Harimaya Bridge. He also co-wrote the Ovation Award-nominated play Bronzeville. He was a Walt Disney Studios/ABC Entertainment Writing Fellow. Most recently, he wrote and directed the science fiction stories Family Line and Renaissance Man and the ghost story There’s Something Going On With Sam for the podcast anthology series Earbud Theater. Aaron’s first film Rage! won a Directors Guild of America award, and his subsequent shorts Eki (The Station) and Kuroi Hitsuji (Black Sheep), and Nico’s Sampaguita won several awards and screened internationally. Aaron’s work has been invited to screen at The Smithsonian Institution, the Toronto International Film Festival, Japan Society, and other prestigious showcases. He is currently in development on film projects in the United States and Japan. Aaron was born and raised in Oakland, California. He graduated with degrees in both Ethnic Studies and Rhetoric from the University of California at Berkeley, and with an MFA in Film from Columbia University.

Documentary Shorts Jury
Samah Ali is a distributor and film programmer hailing from Toronto, Canada. A lover of documentaries and virtual reality, her primary interests lie in short films, ethnic futurisms, and international stories. She programs for Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, DOC NYC, and Black Femme Supremacy Film Festival, serves on the Nantucket Film Festival screening committee, and previously programmed for the Toronto International Film Festival. Samah is also the founder of Sisterhood Media, a production and distribution company streaming films about community and identity on Sisterhood Media TV. You can interact with her on Twitter @sistersamah.

Documentary Shorts Jury
Skye Fitzgerald is currently directing a trilogy of films on the global refugee crisis. The first, 50 FEET FROM SYRIA, focused on doctors working on the Syrian border and was voted onto the Oscar® shortlist.  The second, LIFEBOAT, documents Search and Rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy® award. The third, HUNGER WARD, is in the final stages of post-production. As a Fulbright Research Scholar he directed the film BOMBHUNTERS and has worked with the Sundance Institute, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the State Department, the Paul Robeson Fund and Mountainfilm. As a Director of Photography, Skye lenses work for major clients including Dateline, VICE, Mercy Corps, CNN, the Discovery, Travel, History and Animal Planet Channels. He was recently inducted as an honorary member into SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society) for his work with Syrian refugees and named a Distinguished Alumnus at his alma mater EOU for documentary work. Skye is a member of the Documentary Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Find his work at

Documentary Shorts Jury
Eric Slade is a producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland. His most recent film, ROTHKO: PICTURES MUST BE MIRACULOUS (BendFilm 2019) premiered on the PBS series American Masters. Eric’s feature documentaries BIG JOY and HOPE ALONG THE WIND screened at festivals around the world, including SXSW and Tribeca, winning multiple awards. He spent five years working on the top-rated PBS shows “History Detectives” and “Great Lodges of the National Parks.” His films have received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, ITVS, the California Council for the Humanities and dozens of others.

Student Animated Shorts Jury
Amber Benson is the author of both the Death’s Daughter and The Witches of Echo Park urban fantasy series for Penguin, and the middlegrade book Among The Ghosts for Simon and Schuster. Behind the camera, she co-directed the Slamdance feature film DRONES and (co-wrote) and directed the BBC animated series “The Ghosts of Albion.” In her previous incarnation as an actor, she spent three years as Tara Maclay on the cult television series “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.”

Festival awards will be announced at the 17th annual BendFilm Festival award show on Oct 23 at 7 pm PT.