I wrapped up my 2011 BendFilm Festival experience yesterday with another three films, which were all really great. The festival continues today with screenings in Sisters, as well as the winners showing in Bend down at the Old Mill. Here's a round up of the films I saw yesterday, as well as a list of the winners. Now get out there and see some truly amazing independent films while you can!
I loved this documentary! Though the title may lead you to believe it's tech-heavy, it's not and that's definitely a good thing in this case. I am pretty sure I only saw one or two iPhones in the whole thing. Rather than concentrate on modern technology, filmmaker Tiffany Shlain takes us back through history in her stream of consciousness to delve into the interconnectedness of humankind, nature and progress. Shlain finds the correlation between progress in global society's connection to developments like the alphabet and the computer and relates them to left vs. right brain thinking. If you the chance, check out this doc. And contrary to what you might think, you won't leave the theater feeling scorned for all the tweeting and texting you do.
Rid of Me
This dark comedy was far and away my favorite film of the entire festival. Shot Primarily in Portland, the story follows Meris, a socially awkward woman who moved to Laurelwood with her husband from California and now must try to fit in with his high school friends. The film finds Meris working at a candy store, making friends with some young punks (who hang out with a dude name Virgil, played by Everclear's Art Alexakis), and doing something truly disgusting to her husband's high school sweetheart. Katie O'Grady, who played Meris, attended the screening with the writer/director/editor/producer/superman James Westby. The two offered some great insight on the making of the film, which was inspired by Westby's ex-wife's high school friends. Don't worry, if you didn't get a chance to see this amazing comedy, O'Grady announced the film was picked up for distribution and will have a run in New York, LA, and Portland, which could result in opening in more theaters.
East Fifth Bliss
Mike Bookey and I had the opportunity to both attend a panel where director Michael Knowles sat on the panel, as well as meeting and interviewing him on Friday night. We were both excited to see his film, East Fifth Bliss, which stars Dexter's Michael C. Hall, Peter Fonda, Lucy Liu, and Brie Larson. Bookey saw the film of Friday and assured me I'd like it when I saw it on Saturday. The acting in East Fifth Bliss was incredible, as was the story. If you can make it out there, this film screens again in Sisters at 1pm, so hurry and get your tickets now! If you can't make it, Knowles announced during the Q&A last night that the film's been picked up for distribution and should hit theaters in March.
Best of Show - This Way of Life
Best Narrative Feature - How to Cheat
Best Documentary - This Way of Life
Best Documentary, Honorable Mention - Darwin
Katie Merritt Audience Award - Wild Horse, Wild Ride
Best Narrative Screenplay - Fanny, Annie & Danny
Best Directing - Eleanor Burke and Ron Eyal for Stranger Things
Best Acting, Narrative - Kent Osbourne, How to Cheat
Best of the Northwest - Rid of Me
Best Conservation Film - The Clean Bin Project
Best Short - The Interview
Best Short Screenplay - Crazy Beats Strong Every Time
Best acting, Short - Treasure Bulose, Protect the Nation
Best Student Short - The Candidate
Best Student Screenplay - Girls Named Pinky
Future Filmmaker - Cooper Anderson, Alone
72-Hour Shootout Winner: Johnny Hammond, Operation Stewardship