Seen any good movies lately?
BendFilm Executive Director Sandy Henderson has. Likewise the nonprofit indie film festival’s selections committee. In anticipation of this year’s festival, scheduled for Oct. 9-12, they’ve spent the past few months glued to their seats, watching and winnowing their way through a total 494 submissions.
To give you some idea of how many films that is, way back in 2005, the second year of the festival, there were only 300 submissions, according to Bulletin archives.
This year, BendFilm’s organizers pruned the thicket — a thicket of documentaries, features and short flicks by filmmakers near and far — down to the 77 that have been chosen for the four-day festival.
As in years past, the fifth annual festival will again lure a bevy of filmmakers to town. Call them the Lucky 77: Each has a shot at the festival’s various cash prizes, not to mention the coveted $10,000 Best of Show award, a mainstay of BendFilm since it began.
Taken together, this year’s films represent, says Henderson, the “spectrum of what we have to offer the community for the festival and to engage them in independent film.”
In late August, Henderson had stuck a grid of pink, yellow and blue sticky notes on her office window, each note representing a film as she tried to conjure a schedule for this year’s lineup. It should be posted online by Friday, Henderson said.
Meanwhile, for hardcore cinephiles, passes are available now for both festival members and the public. A Full Festival Pass ($275) is good for 16 individual screenings, including the Opening Night Party and the Gala Awards Ceremony. Pass holders will be able to redeem their pass code for tickets beginning Sept. 16. The less expensive Full Film Pass ($110) also gets its bearer into the same number of screenings, minus the shindigs.
Tickets will also be available for purchase at the three venues, which are McMenamins Old St. Francis School and the Tower Theatre in downtown Bend, and Regal Old Mill Stadium 16 in The Old Mill District.
Purchase a bundle of tickets online at www.bendfilm.org before Oct. 1 and choose six films of your choice. You’ll also be able to purchase individual tickets for $8 online up to an hour before a screening, or pay $10 at the door.
Tickets will also be available at Franklin Crossing, BendFilm’s downtown hub during the festival. Be advised that the majority of individual tickets will sell online, so there’s no guarantee of getting into a particular screening should you wait to buy at the door.
Documentaries that will screen at BendFilm include “Everest: A Climb for Peace,” narrated by Orlando Bloom. Nine people from different cultures and faiths come together for a cooperative climb to the top of the infamous mountain, and, according to the movie’s official Web site, the Dalai Lama himself calls the film a “tremendous achievement.”
The man behind “A Prairie Home Companion” is front and center in “Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes,” which follows the raconteur around America.
The film “Passion and Power: The Technology of Orgasm” details the history of an electric implement that probably can’t be named in a family newspaper, but rhymes with “high-braider.”
And then there’s “Okie Noodling 2.”
Henderson is convinced no fly fisherman will want to miss this documentary, which, um, documents the way Oklahoman fishermen reach blindly into murky waters and catch giant catfish barehanded. Seriously. It’s filmmaker Bradley Beesley’s follow-up to his previous 2001 film on the subject.
“It is the most bizarre thing that I have ever seen,” Henderson says. “It’s like a train wreck that I couldn’t stop watching. And it’s fantastic.”
Filed under “Features” are the full-length fictitious films.
“The New Year Parade” is a film Henderson caught at the Ashland Independent Film Festival in April. There, she approached director Tom Quinn and asked him to consider submitting to BendFilm.
The film about a year in the lives of two siblings after their parents have died “was an amazing feature” that blew me away,” Henderson says. “It’s a raw, visceral, amazingly directed and acted feature.”
Henderson wasn’t sure if her Australian heritage unduly influenced her appreciation for “Monkey Puzzle,” which she says is like “Blair Witch Project” meets “Picnic at Hanging Rock.”
The film is set in the Blue Mountains of Australia and chronicles a group of kids who become lost trying to find an ancient tree.
“The funny thing was, I went home and I put that in,” Henderson says. “I had a glass of wine to de-stress after the day, and I kept thinking, ‘Oh my God this is so good, it’s so good, it’s so good.’
“And then I started having conversations with myself going, ‘Is it really good because it’s Australian and you get it and it’s home, or is it really good?’”
She passed it along to the selections committee, which agreed with her.
Another feature she’s looking forward to seeing in the festival is “The Great Buck Howard,” directed by Sean McGinly and produced by Tom Hanks, who has a cameo in the film.
It has a “fantastic, quirky, brilliant performance by John Malkovich,” who stars as the Great Buck Howard. Hanks’ son Colin stars as Buck Howard’s “long-suffering assistant,” adds Henderson.
As in years past, there are several local elements to this year’s festival. One short that will screen this year is “Man of Motion,” a short documentary about John Flannery, of Bend Cycle Cab, practically an institution in downtown Bend.
“Hybrid Pedal,” is another short documentary featuring bikes, chronicling a bike trip from Sisters to Salt Lake City. “It’s a nice little conservation short documentary,” says Henderson.
It’s been more than two years since writer and director Chris Lusvardi set up shop at the Redmond Historic Hotel to make “Man Maid,” a film about Vincent Van Metcalf, a second-generation male maid, on a quest to save his girl and the hotel he loves. “When a hostile developer threatens to knock down his beloved hotel in favor of a ‘mixed-use-space,’ Vincent is forced to take action,” according to the movie’s official Web site.
“Down Days,” by the extreme-minded local film company Rage Films, will screen in the festival. The documentary “follows the lifestyle, thoughts, and emotions of the big mountain extreme skier,” according to Rage Films’ Web site.
This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as BendFilm’s offerings this year. Look for more coverage in the weeks leading up to the big weekend.
This year’s theme is “four short days that stick with you,” and those four days promise something for everyone, says Henderson.
“As we always try to do, we try to get films that are accessible to everyone,” Henderson says.
Contact: www.bendfilm.org or 541-388-3378.