BendFilm Announces 2016 Jury

BendFilm, Central Oregon’s premier and celebrated Film Festival, announced nine members of the 2016 jury who will award $68,500 in cash and in-kind prizes – including $5,000 cash for “Best of Show.” In addition to awarding prizes, jurors will also share their knowledge in panels and moderate post screening discussions with filmmakers.

“This year’s jury is a broad and diverse group of industry professionals that include representation from across the filmmaking spectrum, from filmmakers and journalists to festival programmers and a distribution executive,” said Erik Jambor. “We’ve got a great competition lineup this year, and I don’t envy the challenge before them. Picking the winners certainly won’t be easy — but it is sure to be exciting.”

The 13th Annual BendFilm Festival will take place October 6-9 and tickets are on sale now.  In competition for this year’s cash prizes are 10 Narrative Features, 10 Documentary Features and 68 Shorts. For a full lineup of films and jury bios visit:

John Beifuss – Narrative Feature Jury
Chicago-born and Memphis-based John Beifuss is a longtime reporter and film critic with The Commercial Appeal, the daily newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee. His writing has appeared in The New York Times and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, among other publications. He also is the author of the children’s book, Armadillo Ray (Chronicle Books). He has been a juror for the RiverRun International Film Festival, the Nashville Film Festival, the Oxford Film Festival, and even the Superman Celebration Film Festival in Metropolis, Illinois.

Eliza Hajek – Narrative Feature Jury
Eliza was born with a vestigial tail! Her parents took her around the world in a traveling show featuring other aberrations, where she was the star. When interest in her died down, she consulted a wise man who told her she would become rich and famous after moving to Los Angeles and working in film. Looks like he was right! Beyond her duties as Manager of Development at SAGindie, for whom she has spent a decade on the festival circuit, you can find her in the background of plenty of party scenes in very low budget films.

Aaron Katz – Narrative Feature Jury
Aaron Katz is Head of Acquisitions at the NY-based distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories, where he is responsible for all aspects of acquiring finished films and bringing in projects at various stages of production for financing and distribution. Aaron also focuses on strategic initiatives across current and emerging digital platforms for upcoming Oscilloscope releases. Before joining Oscilloscope in 2010, Aaron was a part of the Programming and Filmmaker Relations team at several film festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival and the Doha International Film Festival.

Joanne Feinberg – Documentary Jury
Joanne Feinberg is a producer, story editor and consultant at FeinFilm, the company she founded in 2015 after 11 years as Director of Programming at the Ashland Independent Film Festival in Ashland, Oregon. She was instrumental in creating this nationally recognized and highly respected top regional film festival, admired by industry, filmmakers and audiences alike. Previously based in San Francisco, Joanne brings over 20 years of film production experience, and thousands of hours of thoughtful film viewing, to her work as a producer, story editor and consultant at FeinFilm, which specializes in nonfiction storytelling.  She graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a combined degree in Cinema Studies and Film & TV Production. A deep love and understanding of cinema informs all of her endeavors.

Chris Holland – Documentary Jury
Chris Holland is the Programming & Operations Manager for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and a consultant on marketing and festival strategy for independent filmmakers around the world. He is also the author of Film Festival Secrets: A Handbook for Independent Filmmakers ( For more than a decade, Chris has worked on all sides of the festival circuit, including time spent at B-Side Entertainment, Slated, IFP, the Austin Film Festival, and Atlanta Film Festival. He believes that hot dogs are not sandwiches.

Kristin Slaysman – Documentary Jury
Kristin Slaysman is a Los Angeles-based actor, producer and director. A graduate of Northwestern University, she originally moved to NYC to create devised theater, performing at The Public Theater, PS 122, St. Anne’s Warehouse, Ars Nova and the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris, among others. Recent feature film work includes: Little Sister directed by Zach Clark, La La Land (Damien Chazelle), Miss Stevens (Julia Hart) and Thou Wast Mild and Lovely (Josephine Decker). TV: Masters of Sex, American Horror Story and Amazon’s new drama, The Last Tycoon. Kristin has written/directed several short films and she produced and stars in Josh Crockett’s upcoming feature, Dr. Brinks & Dr. Brinks.

Jim Brunzell III  – Short Film Jury
Jim Brunzell III is the Program Director for the Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival in Austin, Texas, and the Festival Director for the music film festival Sound Unseen in the Twin Cities, Minnesota (just named one of 2016’s “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by Moviemaker Magazine). He is also the Lead Programmer for the Flyway Film Festival in Stockholm and Pepin, Wisconsin. As a film journalist, his work has appeared in Twin Cities Daily Planet, Star Tribune, City Pages, 89.3 the Current, MinnPost and Hammer to Nail, where he has covered Sundance, Toronto, SXSW, True/False, Fantastic Fest, Seattle, Tribeca, and Chicago international film festivals. He has served on festival juries in Newport Beach, Milwaukee, Nashville, Austin, and Knoxville, Tennessee. Jim is also a big sports nerd.

Gabriel James – Short Film Jury
Filmmaker and composer Gabriel James was born a child of the Pacific Northwest and raised by a band of notorious VHS pirates. He was taught from youth to see the world cinematically, to adventure and to write it down, to edit life toward efforts of strange and hopeful vision. First studying music, Gabriel began a transition into filmmaking in 2007, eventually landing in Portland, Oregon, and fulfilling various roles in commercial, short form and independent feature film projects. Completing a bachelor’s degree in management and organizational leadership at George Fox University in 2013, Gabriel returned to his hometown of Bend, Oregon, and launched Ghost Village Films the following year. His current work and passion, Ghost Village focuses on multidisciplinary collaboration, seeking to create meaningful, beautiful films in an innovative and sustainable way. Gabriel also produced this year’s festival pre-screening bumper.

Brighid Wheeler – Short Film Jury
Brighid has worked in the film festival world for over 10 years in a variety of roles at Birmingham, Alabama’s Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival and Birmingham SHOUT, and at the Indie Memphis Film Festival, in Memphis, Tennessee. She was Program Manager, Shorts Programmer, and Festival Coordinator for the 2013 and 2014 Indie Memphis Film Festivals, and continues to serve as Indie Memphis’ Shorts Programmer for their annual festival, and programs their monthly Shoot & Splice and MicroCinema events. Outside of the film world, she serves as the Director of Operations at RocketFuel, a Memphis-based web design firm, and is studying to receive her Human Resources certification… and is producing a short film… and is planning a wedding.

About BendFilm:
BendFilm hosts an annual independent film festival as well as year-round film exhibitions and programs. 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 13th year, BendFilm is proud to bring diverse voices and visions to the Bend community. The BendFilm Festival runs every October in downtown Bend, Oregon, at The Oxford, McMenamins – Old St. Francis, Regal Cinemas, Tin Pan Theater, The Volcanic Theater, Cascades Theatrical Company, and the historic Tower Theatre. Make plans now to attend October 6-9, 2016, for four days of inspiring independent cinema, panels and parties, in beautiful Bend, a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, beer lovers and stunning natural scenery. BendFilm is made possible by a dedicated crew of volunteers and generous sponsors. For more information, call (541) 388-3378 or visit

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