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BendFilm Festival

Friday, October 6, 2017

Q&A with BendFilm

Ahead of the 2017 fest, a word with the festival's leaders

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 3:58 PM

The 14th annual BendFilm festival is almost here!

Ahead of the fest, Source Editor Nicole Vulcan sat down with BendFilm Director Todd Looby and Festival Programmer Erik Jambor to talk about what they're looking forward to (everything, of course!), films that speak to a Central Oregon audience (all of them, duh!) and other stuff.

Here's an excerpt of that interview.

Festival Director Todd Looby and Festival Programmer Erik Jambor get silly with BendFilm's award statues during our interview in Bend's Drake Park. - NICOLE VULCAN
  • Nicole Vulcan
  • Festival Director Todd Looby and Festival Programmer Erik Jambor get silly with BendFilm's award statues during our interview in Bend's Drake Park.

Source Weekly: First things first, what are you excited about at this year's festival?

Erik Jambor: Overall, I think what we’re excited about is the festival presents a really broad range of things, so we can say “Oh it’s got something for everybody, but we do that by having a lot of generic things that appeal to everybody kinda, 

but by having a lot of cool things that deal with people specifically, and hopefully you’ll find your favorite new film that you didn’t even know existed.

So we’re trying to get people to get curious and explore and see something they know they’re gonna like and maybe try something they’ve never tried before.  So, a couple things I’m excited about are new world premieres that obviously no one else has shown before.

One of them is called “Dog's Best Friend” and the director is flying in from New Zealand to present the film here. I think it will be really strong for Bend because everyone here loves dogs, or most people have dogs, and it’s about a guy who’s rescuing pit bulls who are kind of beyond the point of help, like they’re gonna be euthanized, and he goes in and fixes them and saves them. He’s like a dog whisperer, and I think people really enjoy seeing that. It’s of course fun having someone travel across the globe to show it.

The other one is “Perfect Bid, the Contestant Who Knew Too Much”, and the director, is actually a BendFilm alumni from about 10 years ago, CJ Wallace is his name, and he’s driving from Canada to show it and the subject of the film, Ted Slauson, he’s also coming in. It’s Ted’s story about becoming this Price is Right guru memorizer guy. You notice that price is repeated on Price is Right, he memorizes them all, and then he’s been on the show 25 times, as an audience member 35 times, some crazy number. He’ll go and ask people to yell out prices and he’s helped a ton of people win things and then you get to see him finally get up there and you can see this scandal that pops up when he’s yelling out numbers and someone gets the show down to a dollar and they had to shut the show down to try and figure out what’s going on. It’s pretty exciting, it’s got some conspiracy undertones, and everyone loves game shows. The director was able to get new interviews with Bob Barker who, I hadn’t seen since he was doing the show. And now he’s mid-80s, early-90s, almost unrecognizable.

Those are very cool and I keep saying it’s the funniest line-up yet , there’s plenty of dark, sad, depressing things mixed in but overall it’s a very funny line-up.

SW: Was a focus on comedy an intentional choice?

EJ: Yeah, I think comedies are pretty accessible and a good way to get people to enjoy a festival. I think film festivals do, in danger of giving things that are too
dark and depressing because a lot of things people make are dark and depressing.
We do want to make sure we have enough things in the mix. We didn’t mean to
make it the funniest ever, but you can spend the whole festival just seeing
things that will make you laugh pretty much all the way through. 

SW: Was there any influence between what’s going on nationally and politically that we need that lightness?

Todd Looby:
Perhaps there is something happening nationally that people did want to laugh. 
We have one film that kind of speaks exactly to that, it’s called “The Misogynists,” that’s a comedy essentially set on election night. It’s pretty much real time and that kind of may be what a lot filmmakers were directing, and perhaps people were in more of a mood to laugh. At the same time you have that crop of serious or issue-based or other movies coming out as well. You want to ride that wave of seriousness and get people where they’re at. It’s good to have that balance, that emotional equilibrium. That way you can experience a whole bunch.

SW: When you’re choosing what films go in, how are you assessing the audience that exists here?

Erik Jambor: You want to have films that can be hooks for people that aren’t coming just because they love movies and they want to explore what we’re doing. You’ve got some outdoor hooks such as “ The Tenth Step.” People move here because of the outdoors and they love the climate, so that’s on that kind of hits that specifically. We know there’s a big dog culture so we know the dog one is gonna have a big audience. Those specific ones are always kind of a nice angle, like, what do we know people like? There’s also feature actors that people might recognize, like “Dog Years,” with Burt Reynolds and “Lucky,” with Harry Stanton. They’re actors that people might recognize and they might not care about the film festival but they know these actors and they’ll come and see that movie and that’s how they catch them. They might find these weird ones that are great filmmaking and they don’t know any actors. They get to be on the cutting edge and maybe meet the new Goldberg or Tarantino, it’s kind of cool to be on the forefront of new art like that.

SW: Is your strategy to try to push people, or meet them where they’re at?

Todd Looby: I think it’s a little bit of both, I think that’s what they want. They rely on us and more specifically, the films find new things. The audience looks to us to introduce them to new things. This year is the first year we’re letting the virtual reality lounge. The technology helps you empathize and see things that you wouldn’t normally, like one program lets you see the inside of a Syrian refugee camp. It’s a more engaging
marketing tool as well. People also wanna see the films they like that they wouldn’t see elsewhere. Some of the ones we’re showing wouldn’t be at the Tower or Tin Pan.

SW: What’s your strategy to get newcomers interested?

Todd Looby: As much as much of the town knows about us, but there are many more that will say “Oh, I’ve always wanted to go and never have,” so you have so many of those people. Maybe we’ll have 4,000 people come through but 90,000 in town so
there’s a large segment that hasn’t taken  the step to come and we understand it because you look at the book, and for someone who’s never been to a film fest, where the heck do you start? So we always say pick one that’s really interesting and that isn’t for a particular segment of the population, this is for everyone, this is for the town.  So there’s something in here that everybody will appreciate. We try to highlight those films, or work with particular organizations that have interest in the content of the film. Having a program in The Source a week before the event like what’s this thing, so you flip
through it and hopefully find something that seems cool. This helps too because
it reaches people who might not know about the festival, or others who might
never have come, but we might have a film about their favorite thing. 

SW: Let's talk a bit about "No Man's Land," the film at the festival covering the Malheur occupation.

TL: Judge Grasty has an interview for the movie... I know he has strong feelings about what happened, as do many people in Burns. I think it was really important to get someone from the town who had a stake and who was intricately involved and kind of tell Bend what it was like to be in a situation like that. Because you know, Burns was, there was a peaceful coexistence between people working for BLM and ranchers, there was I think this had people talking. What you see in the film is how deeply it affected the community. So I think it's going to be a really interesting conversation about what happens when something like this happens. 

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

World Muse and BendFilm Host 'Girl Rising' Screening

Posted By on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 9:39 AM

  • Photo by Dyu D'Cunha
As a lead up to the third annual Muse Conference (March 6-8 in Bend), World Muse and BendFilm host a screening of Girl Rising, tonight at 5:30 pm at McMenamins. The film, from Academy Award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins, tells the stories of nine girls in the developing world who must overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges, just to get an education.

Beyond the award-winning film, Girl Rising is an international movement, using storytelling to promote access to education for girls and women around the globe, and is currently launching programs in India, Democratic Republic of Congo and West Africa with the help of funds from USAID.

A Q&A with the film's director—posted to the project's website—explains the unique approach to creating the film as well as its desired impact. Check out an excerpt below and read the whole interview here.

The film is a hybrid of a documentary and narrative film. Can you explain what that means?

Well, my approach to filmmaking is about problem solving. So when we decided that we wanted to tell the stories of these girls, we began to talk about the most effective ways to do that. And each chapter is different. Some involve actors. Some don’t. Some involve scripted dialogue, while others have no speaking at all. For us it was really about the best way to tell each story. I like to think that we have the best of both worlds – the truth of documentary with the control and flexibility of fiction.

What you have is real girls playing themselves in slightly fictionalized accounts of stories from their own lives. I’ve never known exactly what to call that, but I think the result is extremely compelling.

You found an incredible group of women from around the world. How did you cast the girls?

We probably met thousands of girls in pre-production. In each of our countries we worked with our partners who deal with these girls every day- organizations that work directly on girls’ education issues. They helped us meet girls. So we travelled a lot, doing dozens of interviews in each location.

But the final selection of each girl was made by the writer who helped tell her story. To us the whole idea was that we wanted our audience to hear a story from the girl’s point of view – so the story needed to be crafted by someone who understood the girl’s situation better than I could. That emotional connection was really the most important thing, because we want to make the audience feel for the girls. Our writers are very accomplished women who come from the same country as the girl. Each chose a girl she felt connected to, then they spent some time together, and the stories emerged from that.

The film is part of a larger cause led by the 10 X 10 Foundation, to educate girls around the world from impoverished countries. Can you talk about the overall goals and how the film contributes to them?

We laid out three goals at the start. That’s pretty unusual to begin with for a film project, but we felt it was important. We began to talk about them in three simple phrases: Change minds. Change lives. Change policy. The lives we want to change are those of the millions of girls out there struggling to get an education. The policies are made by our government, and those around the world. Achieving those changes is the core of 10x10’s mission. That is really channeling the money and energy we can generate into the right places.

But my job – the job of the film, is to change minds – not just to make people understand that girls’ education is important, but to make them believe that the change we need is possible. That these girls are just like our girls. Like girls everywhere. Smart, powerful, and eager to make the world better.

How did you get involved with this project?

For better or worse, this project was my idea. I was researching a project on a related subject when I stumbled onto some the new studies about the power of educating girls. It blew my mind. I had the reaction that I hope our audience will have – “This is amazing!” and “I have to do something to help!” For me, help became making this movie. I never dreamed it would grow to the scale it has, but there are a handful of subjects that ought to be given as big and ambitious a treatment as we can muster – and this is surely one of them.

View the film's trailer below.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Changes in the Works for BendFilm

Posted By on Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Big news (as reported yesterday) for the BendFilm Festival. The board of directors has announced that they will be changing leadership with the resignation of Orit Schwartz who has been the festival director since 2010. They also announced that they will be restructuring the festival, a familiar sentiment to their decision to restructure in 2008.


Here is the press release the Source received yesterday in full from BendFilm.

Continue reading »

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Monday, December 16, 2013

BendFilm Festival Director Steps Down

Posted By on Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 4:47 PM

After four years as the festival director for Bend's annual film festival, Orit Schwartz announced publicly today that she will not be returning for he 2014 festival.
Here is the statement the Source received via email this afternoon:

hello everyone,

for those who aren't hooked on facebook as i am,, sorry for the mass email. after four amazing years with bendfilm and incredible growth which i am so proud of!! the board has decided to restructure the festival. this brings to an end my time with bendfilm.

onwards and upwards to a new adventure!!

happy holidays,


She also posted this announcement on Facebook:

Via Facebook.
  • Via Facebook.

If the reconstruction sounds famillier, re-read our paper's coverage of a similar ED situation in 2008 for BendFilm.

Stay tuned to the Source for more on BendFilm's "restructuring" and what Schwartz's departure could mean for the festival.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

BendFilm Ticket Giveaway!

Posted By on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 11:01 AM


BendFilm begins its 10th festival today, and we've got tickets for you! All you have to do is follow some very simple instructions. First, check out the BendFilm schedule here. Then, comment on this blog with the name and showing of the film you want to see. If you submit one of the first ten comments, you get a pair of tickets to that showing! You'll have to pick up your tickets at the Source offices prior to 5 pm Friday. It's that simple!

Happy Moviegoing! I loved this one.

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BendFilm: The Signal Hill Speed Run

Posted By on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 10:00 AM

The Signal Hill Speed Run is a documentary built mostly on historical footage and interviews of participants in the the worlds first downhill skateboard race which took place on Signal Hill in Long Beach, CA.

Q&A with directors Mike Horelick and Jon Carnoy
Why was it important to make a film about Hill Street?
The Signal Hill Speed Run, that took place on Hill Street in the City of Signal Hill, was the world's first downhill skateboard race and ran annually from 1975 to 1978. When Jon Carnoy (the co-director) and myself learned about the race, that was filled with innovation, daring, and flat-out risk-taking, we knew it was a story that had to be told. It has all the elements of a Hollywood film, with enough humor, bravado, and excitement to please any audience, whether they know anything about skateboarding or not.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

BendFilm: The Cold Lands

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 10:00 AM

The Cold Lands is well worth your time.
  • The Cold Lands is well worth your time.

Screening at 5:30pm Fri, Oct 11 at The Tower Theatre; 5:30pm Sat, Oct 12 at Tin Pan Theater

When Atticus’ mother, a Subaru-driving, back-to-the-land hippie, unexpectedly dies the pensive youngster, who has been raised to be wary of authority, takes to the woods that surround his upstate New York home. At its roots, this is a film about growing up and unexpected relationships—and director Tom Gilroy does a fine job of letting his story slowly unfold. The opening third of the film pulls viewers in, thanks to stunning shots of the Catskills and a tender relationship between a single mother and her son. Moviegoers, however, shouldn’t be dissuaded by the slow, dialogue-sparse, Into-the-Wild-esque middle third of the film. Atticus’ time alone in the shady woods lets us get to know him that much better. The film really pops in its final third as Atticus (Silas Yelich) meets Carter (Peter Scanavino), a charismatic stoner who, apparently, has a soft spot for runaways. Together the two boys find strength in companionship and a new path.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

BendFilm: McConkey

Posted By on Tue, Oct 8, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Screening 8:30pm Thu. Oct. 10 at The Tower Theatre; 5:30pm Fri. Oct. 11 at Regal Cinemas Old Mill 1

Extreme skiing pioneer Shane McConkey, who died skiing in 2009, must have been one of the most filmed athletes of all time. Since boyhood, McConkey, an affable daredevil, was obsessed with taking calculated risks—most of which were captured on camera. Using carefully selected clips, the directors of McConkey expertly match old footage with current interviews that include McConkey’s friends, family and peers—as well as his estranged father, an extreme skier in his time—to perfectly capture the innovator’s indomitable spirit. Of course the 110-minute McConkey includes plenty of radical big mountain skiing as well as McConkey’s well-documented antics: naked skiing, BASE jumping, gags and goofs.

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BendFilm: Two People He Never Saw

Posted By on Tue, Oct 8, 2013 at 4:00 AM

Two People He Never Saw - Trailer from Fedora South on Vimeo.

A short with a few recognizable faces, Two People He Never Saw stars Kevin Corrigan (Uncle Eddie on Grounded for Life) and Nick Sandow (prison councilor Joe Caputo in Orange is the New Black). Corrigan also directs the picture based on a short story by early 20th century journalist, John McNutley.
The short’s charm is its simplicity. Two men walk through New York, enter a bar, and talk about Christmas. One claims that what he wants for Christmas is to take two people to dinner, a woman who used to live next door to him in a rented room and a man who saved him when he was injured in the war, both of whom he never saw face-to-face.
The acting and story telling are strong and while nothing much really happens in the film, it delivers a memorable message about absorbing life's smallest details.

Showing Friday Oct. 11, 8 pm Tower Theatre
Saturday Oct. 12, 8 pm Cascades Theatrical Company

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Monday, October 7, 2013

BendFilm: Herd in Iceland

Posted By on Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Screening with Finding Hillywood at 12:30pm Fri., Oct. 11 at The Oxford Hotel; 10:30am Sat, Oct 12 at Regal Cinemas Old Mill

HERD IN ICELAND - Official Trailer from Herd In Iceland on Vimeo.

Although Herd in Iceland creates little tension or drama, it’s a beautiful portrait of Iceland’s barren, windswept countryside and its storied horses, which have existed on the island without crossbreeding for more than 1,000 years. The 28-minute short focuses on the country’s fall roundup in which scores of hardy Icelandic farmers, all clad in thick wooly sweaters, venture up into the highlands to retrieve the horses from their summer grazing zones. The annual tradition is clearly an important piece of the frozen country’s rich history (it’s referred to as “one of the best weekends of the year”) and is filled with plenty of celebration. Drinking, dancing and even feasting on horse stew—there are no idealized notions about a horse’s role here. Regular slaughter is necessary, one farmer points out, otherwise there would not be enough grassland and horses would starve. Such simple, honest, traditional country values are refreshing and part of film’s overall appeal.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

BendFilm: Running Blind

Posted By on Sun, Oct 6, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Screening with Shorts Block 1 at 6pm Thu., Oct 10, Regal Cinemas Old Mill 2; Shorts Block 3 at 5:30pm Fri., Oct 11, McMenamins

Running Blind - Trailer from Suckatash Productions on Vimeo.

Running Blind
E.J. Scott, a regular-looking guy in his mid-30s, lives in a world of increasing darkness. In 2003 he was diagnosed with choroideremia, a rare degenerative eye disease that causes progressive vision loss. Doctors expect that by age 50 Scott will be totally blind. Frustrated by the derth of research surrounding his disorder, an understandably motivated Scott conceives of a seemingly hair-brained plan: to run 12 marathons in 12 months, all in different states—a noble goal for a guy who looks more like a giant teddy bear than a lithe marathoner. The 30-minute film, which premiered at Telluride’s Mountainfilm festival in May, is filled with raw, touching moments—like when an exhausted, but triumphant Scott shouts, “This is the best marathon ever!” at the conclusion of a Las Vegas race. Interesting side note: Scott’s beautiful, supportive girlfriend (who he met online) is actress Deborah Ann Woll, who stars in the hit vampire-TV series “True Blood.”

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Friday, October 4, 2013

BendFilm: Grape

Posted By on Fri, Oct 4, 2013 at 10:00 AM


Vineyards are good looking, so naturally they make fabulous settings for movies. Sideways, A Good Year and Parent Trap are just a few of the many films set in vineyards. Add the short film Grape to the list. Writer and director Daniel Stine uses the scenery to create a haunting, sometimes verging on creepy, but still beautiful setting.
The film follows vineyard owner and professional grump Grayson Delcourt who is planning to sell his family winery including the highly contested “back 40” acres, a plot of land that has never produced a drinkable wine. Delcourt is joined by Stine who plays Tyler, a young man finding the bottom of every bottle of wine he can on the way to a life altering surgery in New York City. The disheveled Tyler finds himself stranded at Delecourt’s vineyard over night, where he wonders the property in a dream-like trance guided by the heir to the Delecourt winery.
The cinematography of a partially abandoned vineyard is gorgeous and evocative backdrop for the films exploration of mortality.

Showing Friday Oct. 11, 3:30 pm Tin Pan Theater
Saturday Oct. 12, 12:30 pm McMenamins Old St. Francis

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