by TORI YOUNGBAUER
Cascade A&E Feature Writer
BendFilm, Central Oregon’s premiere and celebrated film festival, unveils the opening night feature with the full film line up, as well as pass and ticket sale details for the 12th annual festival taking place October 8-11.
This year’s opening night film will be Breaking a Monster, which will screen at the Tower Theatre at 5pm on October 8. In this musical, coming-of-age documentary, Director Luke Meyer focuses on a band of 12-and 13-year-old musicians called Unlocking the Truth. The film chronicles the band’s journey to stardom as well as its childhood obstacles. This delightful and thoroughly entertaining film follows the boys as they first garner attention, playing on the streets of New York to Hollywood where they encounter the surreal music industry and reckon with their rock-star dreams.
“It’s really the perfect opening film,” says BendFilm Director Todd Looby. “It is such an informative, fun ride the whole way through. The lovable characters work through the challenges of the music industry and it is incredibly engaging.”
In competition for this year’s cash prizes are nine narrative features, nine documentary features and 41 shorts. The festival released the names of the films totaling 15 narratives, 16 documentaries and 50 shorts. Within this tremendous group of films, there are definitely some to look out for.
In the documentary category is the film Frame by Frame, a beautiful reframing of Afghanistan directed by Alexandria Bombach, Mo Scarpelli. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, taking photos was a crime. After the regime fell from power in 2001, a fledgling free press emerged and a photography revolution was born. Set in a modern Afghanistan bursting with color and character, Frame by Frame follows four Afghan photojournalists as they navigate an emerging and dangerous media landscape. The film is in Dari with English subtitles.
Another piece that hits close to home is Songs my Brother Taught Me, written and directed by Chloe Zhao. This film is set on the Great Plains and the Badlands of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Songs my Brother Taught Me is a compelling and complex tale that explores the bond between a brother and his younger sister, who find themselves on separate paths to rediscovering the meaning of home.
“We feel that this year’s line-up is the best in the history of the festival,” says Looby. “We are grateful for the interest and support in this regional festival. Not only do we have a strong showing from the Northwest, but from across the country and internationally as well.”
The amount of submissions has not only increased the tremendous amount of work the BendFilm staff has put into the festival, but has also brought in a larger audience than ever before. “New obstacles arise every year, but we have a staff that is always ready to take on a challenge. It keeps us on our toes, and we are happy to do it,” says Looby. “Even with three times the amount of submissions this year, we were able to give each film the proper consideration in order to build our fantastic program.”
The prizes for filmmakers this year are sweetening the deal as well. Brooks Resources Corporation is sponsoring the $5,000 cash prize for Best of Show. Independent Women for Independent Film will sponsor additional $500 cash prizes in multiple categories, as will Jan and Jody Ward and Business for BendFilm. Panavision has donated an impressive camera package worth $60,000 to go to the Best Narrative Feature.
“We are looking to give the best experience as possible, for all of the filmmakers, as well as the audience,” Looby comments. “We are looking forward to the festival, as well as expanding our audience even further.”
Tickets and festival passes are available to the general public at bendfilm.org. Sign ups are available for a membership to receive exclusive access to tickets.
BendFilm is designed to support and nourish filmmakers and enrich the cultural life of Central Oregon. The BendFilm Festival runs every October in downtown Bend at The Oxford, McMenamins-Old St. Francis, Regal Cinemas, Tin Pan Theater, The Volcanic Theater, Cascades Theatrical Company, and the historic Tower Theatre.