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BendFilm Festival back for 19th year, bringing diverse selection of independent films to theater, TV screens

Executive says many films prompt greater sense of understanding and empathy

(Update: adding video, comments from BendFilm director, film writer and editor)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The BendFilm Festival returns later this week, bringing in creative people from all over the world. The event celebrates nearly two decades of showcasing independent films for enthusiastic Central Oregon audiences.

“We’ll have narrative features, so feature-length films that are fictional films, then documentary feature-length films, and then just a bunch of shorts," BendFilm Executive Director Todd Looby said Monday.

Screenings will be accessible in person Thursday through Sunday of this week.

And befitting the times, you won't have to go to a theater to view the wide array of films. A virtual option will be available for much of this month, from next Monday, Oct. 10 to Sunday, Oct. 23.

The 19th annual event will present 33 feature films, 80 short films and eight music videos across six different venues. The five in Bend include the Cascades Theatrical Company, Open Space Studios, Regal Old Mill, Tin Pan Theater and the Tower Theater.

And reaching beyond Bend, screenings also will be held at the Madras Performing Arts Center.

Just last year, BendFilm became an Academy Award-qualifying festival, resulting in a record number of about 1,700 submissions from around the world this year.

“Another great thing about this festival is that we celebrate the work of local filmmakers," Looby said.
That segment will be presented at Open Space Studios in Bend.

“Whatever’s on the screen really helps you feel and internalize what someone’s experiences are in the world," Looby said. "Hopefully, then you come away a little changed and understanding of what other people are going through."

The documentary Sweetheart Deal is one of many unique films that will air in the festival. It's based in Seattle and focuses on the struggles of four women who battle a heroin addiction and become sex workers.

I spoke with the film's writer, Karen Sim, and film editor Brittany Kaplan to find out more about it.

Kaplan said, “So we’re following the lives of these four women through their perspective, and you know, there’s no talking-head interviews. It was shot over the span of many years, so you actually get to see these women evolve over time and change."

Sim said, “Yeah, I was struck with, in some ways, how relatable their struggles are, even though on the surface it sounds very extreme and desperate.” 

You can purchase tickets for Sweetheart Deal along with several unique films on the BendFilm website.

Article Topic Follows: Arts

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.


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