BendFilm Announces Short Films Curated for 18th Annual BendFilm Festival

(Liminal | Photo courtesy of BendFilm)

New this year, BendFilm Festival is now recognized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as one of 64 film festivals in the world (27 festivals in the USA) that is Oscar-qualifying for short films. Following the festival, BendFilm will submit the winning shorts in the following categories to be considered for Oscar nominations: Best Narrative Short, Best Animated Short and Best Indigenous Short.

Passes are on sale now for the in-person festival events October 7-11 and the streaming events October 11-17. The film schedule is live with more movie, panel and honoree announcements planned for the coming weeks.

Selin Sevinc, BendFilm Head Programmer, said, ”We are thrilled to be part of a pipeline to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that champions the short form as an increasingly relevant and important genre of filmmaking. Don’t miss seeing a shorts program that will likely include films that just may show up on Academy short lists and official nominations. A film festival is the perfect and sometimes only place to showcase the short form genre in theaters and online and we are thrilled to present the largest short film program in BendFilm’s history.”

Audiences will be treated to a special presentation and discussion of the short film Hunger Ward directed by two-time Academy nominated Skye Fitzgerald and produced by Academy nominated Michael Scheuerman. Filmed with unprecedented access within a sensitive conflict-zone in Yemen, Hunger Ward documents two women health care workers fighting to thwart the spread of starvation against the backdrop of a forgotten war. Skye Fitzgerald, Michael Scheuerman, the film’s lead translator Silvia Fadel and Middle East foreign policy expert Hassan El-Tayyab will host a discussion following the film at the festival which will also be made available to audiences streaming the film online.



People taking life-changing risks, coming to terms with the end of things, side-stepping imminent death or facing it head-on. A striking and at times humorous glimpse into our humanity through the lens of our ultimate vulnerability.

The Roads Most Traveled | directed by Bill Wisneski
Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist Don Bartletti shares heart wrenching stories from his 40-year career documenting history as it unfolds.

Peek-a-Boom | directed by Maya Zankoul & Toni Yammine
Surrounded by her loving family on her birthday, an event occurs that shapes Mira’s life forever.

On My Mind | directed by Martin Strange-Hansen
​​Henrik wants to sing a song for his wife. It has to be today, it has to be now. It’s a question of life, death and karaoke.

How To End a Conversation | directed by Gregory JM Kasunich
A heartbroken man, unable to stop calling his Ex, enlists a therapist to help him lift the weight of his past relationship off of his shoulders… literally.

Harmonia Solid | directed by Jake Hart
While cleaning house, a woman discovers an area rug that disposes of literal and figurative trash in a beautiful and magical way.

Last Meal | directed by Marcus McKenzie & Daniel Principe
The final feasts of death row inmates serve as the entrée to a salivating investigation of capital punishment.


When viewed side by side, stories of our differences become proof of our sameness. Here is a beautiful collection of stories about the various ways in which we can all relate to each other’s experiences of feeling ‘different’.

The Best Orchestra in the World | directed by Henning Backhaus
Ingbert, a sock, applies for a position as a double bass player at the Vienna State Orchestra.

Freebird | directed by Michael Joseph McDonald, Joe Bluhm & Nicholas Herd
The coming-of-age story of a boy with Down Syndrome, navigating the world with an absent father, a classroom bully and a life-long crush.

Nudity | directed by Jáchym Bouzek
In a fabric society, a young figure diverges from rigid gender binaries to explore where their identity lies.

When I’m Her | directed by Emily Schuman
Michael was a ballet prodigy with a stellar career ahead of him. He transformed into a Russian ballet instructor named Madame Olga as a way to both embrace himself as an artist and reconcile with the trauma from his past.

Short Calf Muscle | directed by Victoria Warmerdam
Anders is different, but he doesn’t know how. Or, is he?

The Black Stonefly | directed by Cody Lewis & Marc Rotse
Gian Lawrence found salvation and purpose in fly fishing. Fly fishing can be about finding a new identity thanks to pioneers like him.

On the Couch With My Depression | directed by Angharad Gladding
​​Full of excited anticipation, a poet plans to go to a book party. Then along comes depression.

Rat Tail | directed by Chad Sogas
Rat Tail is a self-deprecating look at director Chad Sogas’ battle with depression using archival footage and ephemera from his past, focusing primarily on the rat tail he had for ten years that his parents still keep in the storage room of their basement.

ON THE VERGE – Shorts Block 3

Under pressure, wild emotions come to the surface. Here are characters on the verge of a discovery, of getting caught, losing control, finding healing and falling apart.

Jungle | directed by Kieran Wheeler
A young woman awakens to find herself in the midst of a living nightmare.

Lost Kings | directed by Brian Lawes
Searching for food, a boy breaks into a neighborhood home. But when the homeowners return, he becomes trapped inside with those he’s stealing from.

Pain | directed by Anna Rose Duckworth
A young girl has an earth-shattering realization that her father is not invincible, after a cricket accident exposes his vulnerability.

The Ref | directed by Peter Edlund
A referee struggles to maintain control over a second-grade basketball game.

The Summer of Snakes | directed by Lara Panah-Izadi
​​An artist revisits a childhood summer haunted by a trauma that she will overcome through her colorful art. (Inspired by the life of Niki de Saint Phalle)

Vlada Goes to London | directed by Arti Savchenko
​​Vlada is a pizza delivery girl who lives in Haifa and dreams of becoming a famous DJ.

CONNECTIONS – Shorts Block 4

The simple yet powerful efforts it takes to bridge the gap of distances between us and the differences in our worldviews, cultures and personalities. We invite you to connect, against all odds.

Big Touch | directed by Christopher Tenzis
An Afro-Surrealist story about a giant woman and a tiny man who through the power of touch, experience an unexpected transformation.

Burros | directed by Jefferson Stein
A six-year-old Indigenous girl discovers a Hispanic migrant her age who has lost her father while traveling through the Tohono O’odham tribal lands into the United States.

Chocolate Cake and Ice Cream | directed by Steve Cowden
​​An unlikely friendship turns to love when a dog and cat go through tough times.

Complicated | directed by Isak Kohaly
Itamar returns to his suburban childhood home following a mental breakdown and contends with his exercise-obsessed mother and the advances of a handsome lifeguard.

Kaizo | directed by Jeremy Lethco
Kaizo is about leveraging a passion/hobby/job like video gaming in a philanthropic way like natural disaster relief.

Long Distance | directed by Or Sinai
Rachel is losing her sight to the point she can’t manage the smallest daily functions, like dialing the phone. She invites strangers to her home to help her connect with her daughter on the other side of the world.

Signed, Steve Hardy | directed by Matthew R. Green
Steve Hardy is an abstract water-color artist who uses his craft as a means to meet new people.

BREAKING THE MOLD – Shorts Block 5

Stories about breaking out, breaking free, and bringing people together through the power of action, strength, hope and joy.

All Bodies On Bikes | directed by Zeppelin Zeerip
Kailey Kornhauser and Marley Blonsky set out to change the definition of what it means to be a cyclist.

Comeback Girls | directed by Jacob Seigel Brielle & Isaac Seigel-Boettner
For young Malawians Maggie and Febby, the bicycle is much more than a toy.

Jump to Zero | directed by Drew Herder
An all-female team in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. No fossil fuels. Human-powered BASE jumping through the heart of the American desert.

Lion on the Mat | directed by Asali Echols
​​A Vietnamese-American single mother pours herself into martial arts as a way to overcome past trauma.

Miss Alma Thomas: A Life in Color | directed by Cheri Gaulke
Alma W. Thomas, a Black woman artist, broke color barriers on and off the canvas, yet did not receive national attention until she was 80.

My Century | directed by Kendra Jacobson
The story of the first 100 years of reluctant heroine Ann Lundgren, who continues to smash expectations into her second century.

Pho the People | directed by Brady Holden & Dez Ramirez
Maryam Tu and her family launch a small batch food project at the beginning of the COVID Pandemic.

ONE WITH NATURE – Shorts Block 6

Stories about connecting with and being in nature as a matter of survival and vital artistic expression.

Connected Off The Grid | directed by Rachel Bujalski
A unique look at three different off-grid lifestyles: in the desert, forest and ocean—inspiring us to stay connected to the earth and our communities.

If I Tell Them | directed by Oliver Sutro
James Sampsel, a plein air painter and fly-fishing guide, comes to terms with his past and a bi-polar diagnosis that hangs over his future.

Little Fish | directed by Edward Columbia
Chef and environmentalist Bun Lai decides to close his successful restaurant to pursue a new recipe for life.

Rust | directed by Rafał Małecki
An intimate portrayal of Mariola Wawrzusiak-Borcz, an artist who creates catastrophic sculptures from scrap metal which are a critique of human behavior.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves | directed by Michael CB Stevens
The pursuit of the fastest known time on America’s highest peak is only half the story.


Who would have thought certain animals and forests do more for us than we could ever imagine! Captivating and educational stories of the bison, the harpy eagle and an old growth forest, and how their well being and our survival correlate.

Aguilucho: Dance of the Harpy Eagle | directed by Daniel Byers
The discovery of a rare Harpy Eagle nestling on their land reawakens a relationship between an Emberá community in the remote Darién Gap in Panama and the endangered raptor species.

Keystone | directed by Maggie O’Dea
A story about the co-habitation that we must embrace as humans, in order to create planetary abundance for future generations.

Understory A Journey Into The Tongass | directed by Colin Arisman
Three women set sail on a 350 mile expedition through Alaska’s vast Tongass National Forest to explore how clearcut logging in this coastal rainforest could affect wildlife, local communities and our planet’s climate.

ROOTED IN CULTURE – Shorts Block 8

Indigenous people’s history, culture and strength as a people is a source of inspiration for all of us.

Honor Thy Mother | directed by ​​Lucy Ostrander
The untold story of Aboriginal women and their Indipino children.

Joe Buffalo | directed by ​​Amar Chebib
Joe Buffalo, an Indigenous skateboard legend and Indian Residential School survivor, must face his inner demons to realize his dream of turning pro.

Rooted in Culture: Oregon’s Wild Camas | directed by ​​Michelle Alvarado
Oregon’s beauty is not just rooted in its incredible landscape, it is the roots themselves that hold treasures.

The Roots of Lacrosse | directed by Shelby Tsioweriohsta Adams & Joanne Storkan
Who knew that the sport of lacrosse was originally a medicine game played by North American Indigenous people?

Wirun | directed by Chad O’Brien
A young Indigenous girl must dig deep to own her performance of a Shakespearean sonnet for her high school drama class.

THE UNEXPECTED – Shorts Block 9

A program filled with unexpected ideas, choices, feelings, actions, friendships and fears… For a taste of unusual characters and offbeat storytelling!

The Binding of Itzik | directed by Anika Benkov
A middle-aged Hasidic bookbinder gets more than he bargained for when he responds to a bondage ad on Craigslist.

Freezerburn | directed by Sarah Rattay-Maloney
One night, Lou’s secret—followed by a magical cat-person—breaks her whole world apart.

I’m A Vampire | directed by Sofia Garza-Barba
In the midst of the pandemic lockdown and without much information from her parents, 8-year-old Jackie believes she’s turning into a vampire.

Inheritance | directed by Annalise Lockhart
A Black family strives to shield their rural Vermont home from the gaze of the spirits that surround it.

The Tale of the Daughter | directed by Savannah Sivert & Taylor Hinds
When a mother’s debt arrives for the reckoning, her estranged caretaker daughter must bear the cost to survive.

Washing Machine | directed by Alexandra Májová
Wash and Love.

Zombie Walk | directed by ​​Rollyn Stafford
Rollyn takes his zombie for a walk through post apocalyptic Downtown Portland, Oregon.


Short films that play before feature films.

A Hand to Hold | directed by Ali Clark & Stacey Davis
An exploration of the connective thread of hand holding between parent and child.

Fempire | directed by Honora Talbott
In a near future when women rule the world, a politician visits a “Grooming School” to snag a trophy husband.

Frank & Emmet | directed by Carlos F. Puertolas
Two life-long friends come together to address head-on the one thing they’ve never talked about: One of them is a puppet.

If Found | directed by India Donaldson
A lonely girl with a big heart and bad boundaries steals a dog.

The Last Vaquita | directed by Ed Harrison
A pair of brothers joins Sea Shepherd who are fighting to save the most endangered marine mammal on the planet.

liminal | directed by Dan Abramovici
As time is compressed, Steve lives both his past and present concurrently. Sexual content and strong language

Living Music | directed by Libby Spears
A promising young musician’s career is nearly cut short after he loses his voice to a rare medical condition.

The Longest Day of the Year | directed by Lauren Hoover
A comedy about three roommates navigating the trials of quarantine.

Mis-remember | directed by Mason Lahue
A man walks through his memory as it becomes more abstract.

My Neighbor, Miguel | directed by Danny Navarro
A spirited 72 year-old artist reflects on art, community and life after facing an isolating AIDS epidemic which affected the entire world.

Noor & Layla | directed by Fawzia Mirza
Noor & Layla are breaking up. Is it the end of the road for these two Muslim women… or is it just the beginning?

Our Atoll Speaks | directed by Gemma Cubero del Barrio
Enter the breathtaking atoll of Pukapuka/Nassau in this communal film-poem and discover the environmental wisdom of our ancestors.

Solace | directed by Amanda Prifti
When life throws you a global pandemic, grab a board and surf.

Unemployment Hotline | directed by Nikos Campbell
A deeply personal look into people’s experience with unemployment and isolation during the global pandemic, narrated by immensely intimate and honest voicemails sent in from all across the U.S.

Where Should We Go | directed by Che O’Grady
Where Can We (the Black community) Go” that is safe from racism and police brutality. Where can we live without eventually getting pushed out of our neighborhoods?


Films made by Central Oregon filmmakers, stories with local themes or filming locations.

Built to Burn | directed by Courtney Campbell
Can we ready ourselves to manage fire, or will we continue to scramble in disbelief? Either way, the fires are coming.

Farm to Families | directed by Katherine Roselli
Here’s how Rogue Valley community volunteers collaborated to address food insecurity in the 2020 Summer of Covid.

Getting A Head | directed by Jacob Logan Barth
An absurd and dark-comedic tragedy about a man, his best friend, and their new roommate.

Link Sar | directed by Graham Zimmerman
An elite American alpinist navigating his relationships and motivations while attempting to climb and survive one of the world’s most challenging unclimbed peaks: Link Sar, in the high mountains of Pakistan.

Near/Miss | directed by Benjamin Higgins & Dan Attias
The prelude to a love story which focuses on the serendipitous encounters and dream life of a young man and woman.

Tai Chi Spirit | directed by Tim Cash
There are three levels of Tai Chi: the physical, the mental and the spiritual. This documentary follows martial art students from Bend, Oregon to China as they learn that to pursue your passion takes perseverance, understanding and heart, with guidance from a local master from China.

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