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2019 BendFilm Festival announces award winners

BendFilm announced Sunday 15 films and filmmakers were awarded jury prizes at the 2019 BendFilm Festival. These films fall into 12 categories, including the coveted Best of Show, which carries a $5,000 cash prize. More than 1,200 films were submitted to BendFilm from across the country and across the globe.

The IndieWomen of the Year Award in honor of Pamela Hulse Andrews was presented to indie producer, Christine Vachon at the screening of her film Carol at the Tower Theater on Friday October 11th . It was Christine’s indelible mark on independent film that drew the BendFilm team to want to highlight her career at the 2019 Festival. Often directors get the credit once a film is out in the world but BendFilm took a new approach to the Indie Woman of the Year award this year by acknowledging the behind-the-scenes work producers do from concept to completion.

Erik Jambor , Festival Programmer, said, ” This year’s competition lineup was the strongest in years and the jury had a difficult time selecting our 16th annual film festival award winners. We’re thrilled that the jury has chosen some amazing films and we look forward to everyone coming out to see the encore films playing on the last day of the festival. ”

Jurors for the Festival include : Cheryl Strayed author and filmmaker; Amy Dotson, Director of the Northwest Film Center; Falk Hentschel , actor; Ted Speaker, producer; Skizz Cyzyk , musician & indie filmmaker; Melanie Addington, director/screenwriter; Warren Etheredge , producer and playwright; Matt Lopez, film and television writer/producer; Brian Lindstrom , filmmaker; Ian McCluskey , documentary filmmaker; LaRonn Katchia , director; and Isaac Trimble, Native American flute artist and film producer.

The 2019 BendFilm Festival Award recipients:

Best of Show ($5,000 Presented by Brooks Resources since 2004):

Mossville : When Great Trees Fall

Directed by Alexander Glustrom

Central Oregon Premiere

A centuries-old Black community in Louisiana is contaminated and uprooted by petrochemical plants. As the community comes to terms with the loss of their ancestral home, one man standing in the way of a plant’s expansion refuses to give up.

Best Directing ($500 Made possible by Independent Women for Independent Film):

Once Upon a River

Written and directed by Haroula Rose

Central Oregon Premiere

The story of Native American teenager Margo Crane in 1970s rural Michigan. Margo is forced to journey on the Stark River in search of her estranged mother. As Margo uses the skills she was taught by her father to survive, sheMargo meets many characters along the way. Most importantly Smoke, and the two strike up an unlikely friendship. Despite the challenges, Margo is able to stay true to herself as she discovers what it means to live.

Best Narrative Feature ($1,000 Made possible by Jay and Sheila Luber ):


Written and directed by Laura Jean Gallagher

Oregon Premiere

A heartbroken woman becomes entangled with a younger girl after breaking into her ex’s lake house in the Pacific Northwest. Equal parts psychological drama and sexual coming-of-age story, Clementine is a tense rumination on who to love and how to let go.

Best Documentary Feature ($1,000 Made possible by JL Ward Co. and Business For BendFilm):


Directed by David Hambridge

Central Oregon Premiere

With the northern white rhino species on the brink of extinction, two ranger recruits are mentored by a seasoned ranger with an unorthodox approach to caring for the last northern white rhino male. Spanning over the course of the recruits’ first four years on the job, Kifaru allows viewers to experience the joys and pitfalls of conservation firsthand through the lens of the men that look into the eyes of extinction on a daily basis. Presented in English & Swahili with English subtitles.

Best Cinematography :


Cinematography by Andres Karu

Oregon Premiere

A heartbroken woman becomes entangled with a younger girl after breaking into her ex’s lake house in the Pacific Northwest. Equal parts psychological drama and sexual coming-of-age story, Clementine is a tense rumination on who to love and how to let go.

Best Indigenous Feature ($500 Made possible by Oregon Community Foundation and Collins Foundation)


West Coast Premiere

Directed by Catharine Axley

The story of dogsled champion George Attla , from his childhood as a TB survivor in the remote Alaskan interior, through his rise as ten-time world champion and mythical state hero, and finally as a village elder resolutely training his grandnephew to race his dogs one last time.

Special Jury Award for Best Native Knowledge

Native Wisdom: The Peoples of Eastern Oregon

Central Oregon Premiere

Directed by Tim Keenan Burgess & Lawrence Johnson

Indigenous scientists and elders from several Oregon interior tribes, including the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Reservation, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde share observations of their changing environment, natural resource issues, and the beauty of tribes’ traditional arts, music, and storytelling.

Best Environmental / Outdoor Adventure Feature ($500 Made possible by Frank Groundwater and Rebecca Warner)

Eating Up Easter

Directed by Sergio M. Rapu

Central Oregon Premiere

In a cinematic letter to his son, native Rapanui (Easter Island) filmmaker Sergio Mata’u Rapu explores the modern dilemma of their people, descendants of the ancient statue builders, as they face the consequences of their rapidly developing home.

Special Jury Award for Narrative Short

Sometimes, I Think About Dying

Directed by Stefanie Abel Horowitz

Fran is thinking about dying, but a man in the office might want to date her.

Best Narrative Short ($500 Made possible by Independent Women for Independent Film):

The Neighbors’ Window

Directed by Marshall Curry
A middle-aged mother of young children has grown frustrated with her daily routine and husband, but her life is shaken up when two free-spirited twenty-somethings move in across the street and she discovers that she can see into their apartment.

Best Documentary Short ($500 Made possible by Independent Women for Independent Film):

All on a Mardi Gras Day

Directed by Michal Pietrzyk

In gentrifying New Orleans, Demond sacrifices to be Big Chief in a secret 200-year culture known as Mardi Gras Indians: African-American men from the city roughest neighborhoods spend all year sewing feathered suits they’ll wear only once in a battle to decide who’s “the prettiest.”

Special Jury Awards for Documentary Feature

Little Miss Westie

Directed by Joy E. Reed & Dan Hunt

Two transgender siblings as they navigate puberty, family, and transitioning during the Trump era. Ren is competing in the Lil Miss Westie Pageant as the first out trans-girl; coaching her is her older brother, Luca who knows his stuff because he competed when he was Ren’s age and living as a girl.

Best Animated Short ($500 Made possible by Independent Women for Independent Film):

A Line Birds Cannot See

Directed by Amy Bench

Separated from her mother by smugglers at the border, a determined 12-year old sets out across a desert to find her mother and a place where they can be safe again.

Special Jury Award for Animated Short

The Phantom 52

Directed by Geoff Marslett

Tom Skerritt stars in this animated short film about a onely trucker waiting for a reply on the CB radio.

Best Student Short ($500 Made possible since 2005 by Dan Wieden and Priscilla Bernard Wieden on behalf of Caldera Arts):

F*c k

Directed by Vern Hass (University of Southern California)

A one-word journey through an unsuspecting freshmen’s sexual trials, tribulations, and revelations through her first semester of college.

Best of the Northwest ($500 Made possible by Business For BendFilm) ”

Wave Hands Like Clouds

Directed by Marga Laube

What it feels like to be walking a wiggly line in the sky, just you, the wind, and the clouds.

The Katie Merritt Audience Award ( $500 Made possible by ticket sales. The audience votes for and contributes directly to the filmmaker who walks away from this award )

The winner of this award will be announced at the closing night film. Due to the number of exceptional films screening at this year’s festival, BendFilm is giving festival goers an extra day to see and vote for their favorite indie film.


The Bend Film Festival is supported in part by a grant from the Bend Cultural Tourism Fund, The Collins Foundation, Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Community Foundation, and The Deschutes Cultural Coalition.

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 15th 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 11-14, 2018) 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 . Connect with BendFilm on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram .

About the IndieWoman of the Year Award:

BendFilm created the IndieWomen of the Year award in 2018 in honor of the late Pamela Hulse Andrews who was a Bend business leader and advocate for the arts for more than 25 years. Debra Granik and Producer Anne Rosselini received the inaugural award at the 2018 Festival. Pamela was a passionate arts advocate who worked tirelessly to support women in film. BendFilm will carry on Pamela’s memory through this award, presenting it to female artists who demonstrate an exceptional passion for independent film, bravely shares her authentic voice and makes extraordinary contributions to the independent body of work.

KTVZ 2019

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