BendFilm has become a regional darling, best known for its warm hospitality and high quality films. This year’s festival boasts an all-star line-up of jurors, who will be awarding $10,000 in cash prizes and a $60,000 Panavision camera package. Todd Looby says, “Each year BendFilm makes a big effort to host world-class jurors. We want our jurors to see incredible films that they may have missed elsewhere. In doing so, we hope to further our filmmakers’ careers. We couldn’t be happier that they agreed to join us in celebrating these films, these filmmakers and our town.”
The panel will arrive in Bend on the first day of the festival, Thursday, October 8 and in addition to judging the films, will participate throughout the festival as moderators for various panels and host filmmaker Q&A’s after screenings.
Paula Bernstein is the Filmmaker Toolkit Editor at Indiewire. During her time at Indiewire, she has attended The Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Tribeca Film Festival, DOC NYC, Hot Docs, Sheffield Doc/Fest and other festivals. She has written about film, television, technology and advertising for Fast Company, Filmmaker Magazine, TV Guide, The New York Times, Adweek and many other digital and print publications.
Laura Nix directed The Yes Men Are Revolting, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2014 and the Berlinale 2015. She directed and produced the documentary The Light in Her Eyes about a Syrian Quran school for women that premiered at IDFA, was broadcast on the series POV on PBS and toured the world as part of Sundance’s Film Forward program. Nix’s nonfiction television work has appeared on HBO, IFC, Planet Green, and the History Channel. Based in Los Angeles, she’s currently developing a documentary feature about ballroom dancers in the suburban Chinese community of San Gabriel Valley, California.
Anne Thompson, born and raised in Manhattan, grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up studying Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine’s west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies and continues to host the fall semester of Sneak Previews for UCLA Extension.
Matt Grady is the founder of Factory 25, an independent film distribution company launched in 2009. Factory 25 is a home for conceptually provocative narratives and documentaries. Grady was recently named “One of the Most Influential People in Brooklyn, New York Culture.” His mission is to expose the world to under-the-radar films, music and other curiosities theatrically, digitally, on TV, VOD, via subscription, limited edition DVDs with vinyl LPs and books. Recent and upcoming titles include Uncle Kent 2, Christmas, Again The Color Wheel, Hellaware, Sun Don’t Shine, The Sheik and I, Kid Thing and Fake It So Real. Grady also produced Onur Tukel’s Applesauce and Summer of Blood.
Leah Meyerhoff is an award winning filmmaker whose debut narrative feature I Believe In Unicorns was released theatrically in 2015 after premiering at SXSW, winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Atlanta Film Festival and additional awards from Woodstock Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, First Time Fest, Tribeca Film Institute, IFP, NYU and the Adrienne Shelly Foundation. Meyerhoff’s previous work has screened in over 200 film festivals and aired on IFC, PBS, LOGO and MTV. She is a fellow of the IFP Emerging Narrative Labs, IFP Narrative Finishing Labs, Tribeca All Access Labs, and the Emerging Visions program at the New York Film Festival. Meyerhoff is the founder of Film Fatales, a female filmmaker collective based in New York with over a dozen local chapters around the world.
Mike Ott studied under Thom Andersen at Cal Arts where he received his masters degree in film and video. His films include Littlerock, Pearblossom Hwy, Lake Los Angeles and his new Untitled Denver Project which was co-directed with Nathan Silver. Mike’s films have won numerous awards including, an Audience Award at AFI Fest, a Gotham Award and an Independent Spirit Award.
Courtney Sheehan leads Northwest Film Forum’s year-round artistic programs. As a Watson Fellow, she researched film festival organizations, curated film programs and produced events for 20 film festivals on three continents. As a journalist, Courtney has covered film events ranging from the world’s largest documentary festival (IDFA in Amsterdam) to South America’s largest animation festival (Anima Mundi in Rio de Janeiro) and her publications include Bitch Magazine, Senses of Cinema, The Independent and NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies. She co-founded Cine Migratorio, a migration-themed film festival in Santander, Spain.
Landon Zakheim is a short film programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, Programmer for AFI FEST and Head Short Film Programmer for the Los Angeles Film Festival. Since 2013, he has served as director of programming for the Stanley Film Festival, a four-day horror celebration that specializes in experiential programming. His short films Delmer Builds a Machine and Another Bullet Dodged have played at prestigious festivals all over the world. In his spare time, Landon enjoys ending mixed messages. Or does he?
A new Bend resident, Kent Nichols, is widely known in both the online video and entertainment communities as an online video pioneer. In 2005, he co-created the web series Ask A Ninja, one of the first breakout success stories on YouTube. The series has been viewed over 160 million times, quoted on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, featured in the New York Times, Wired and numerous other publications and blogs. The series resulted in a number of wins for Nichols – the YouTube Award for Best Series, a Webby and a Streamy and he was nominated by the PGA for Digital series. Nichols is currently starting a company to help fund digital content and independent television and is a mentor at the Oregon Story Board.