What: 2017 BendFilm Festival

When: Tonight through Sunday

Where:

• Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St., Bend

• McMenamins Old St. Francis School, 700 NW Bond St., Bend

• Regal Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX, 680 SW Powerhouse Drive, Bend

• Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Drive, Bend

• Tin Pan Theater, 869 NW Tin Pan Alley, Bend

• Old Stone Performing Arts Center, 157 NW Franklin Ave., Bend

Cost: Full Festival Pass, good for all components of the event, including the Opening Night Party, Get Down @ The Dogwood and Awards Ceremony, allowing free entry to all films with reserved tickets and free entry to all films without reserved tickets if seats remain after all ticket holders enter, is $275; Full Film Pass is $175, allows free entry to all films with reserved tickets and free entry to all films without reserved tickets if seats remain after all ticket holders enter; advance film tickets are $11 online or at the box office, located inside At Liberty, 849 NW Wall St., Bend; $10 Standby Tickets at the door, sold after Pass and Advanced ticket holders are seated (Note: BendFilm strongly recommends buying tickets in advance and printing them at home).

Contact: www.bendfilm.org or 541-388-3378

The BendFilm Festival returns Thursday, once again kicking off a dream weekend for cinephiles and filmmakers vying for prizes totaling $10,500 in prize cash — including the coveted $5,000 Best of Show.

Continuing through Sunday, BendFilm offers panel discussions, opportunities to rub elbows with filmmakers at parties and, of course, see an array of films from across the movie spectrum — from animated short films to international documentaries and feature-length films starring virtual unknowns to grizzled veterans such as Burt Reynolds and Bill Pullman (the latter of whom star in two of this year’s films).

The common denominator across the great variety of films: All are independent productions. This year, BendFilm accepted a total of 105 films, four more than the 2016 BendFilm Festival.

“It’s a record, as far as I know,” said BendFilm Executive Director Todd Looby.

Some 68 films, more than half the films in this year’s crop, are shorts: 30 minutes or less in length and screening in blocks.

Festival programmer Erik Jambor said, “There are some great shorts programs that come pre-bundled for people that like short films. Part of what I like about those programs is you get to see so many different things in one sitting. … If you don’t really respond to one of the films, you don’t have to worry too long, because another one is going to come up right behind it.

“The Documentary program (has) a lot of different things you get to learn about in a short amount of time,” he added. “Narrative (Shorts Block One) and the Northwest Shorts are very eclectic in the program. It’s not just one type of movie, not just all things from outdoor documentaries, for example. It’s going to be a range of documentaries and comedies all mushed together. Even the Family Shorts program is like that, too. It’s not just things for kids; it’s just things that kids would dig as well as their parents.”

‘Rage’

There are also three dozen feature-length narrative and documentary films screening during the 2017 Festival, among them “All the Rage (Saved by Sarno).” Directed by Michael Galinsky, Suki Hawley and David Beilinson, the 94-minute documentary looks into the work of Dr. John Sarno, who died in June at age 93 — one day before the opening of “All the Rage.”

Though he was largely ignored by the medical establishment, Sarno, who didn’t retire until 2012, spent nearly five decades of his career battling America’s pain epidemic by looking at the ties between anger and stress and the ways they can manifest in physical ailments. The documentary includes interviews with experts, Sarno himself and his patients, including such famous ones as Larry David and Howard Stern.

“All the Rage” is told from the point of view of Galinsky, who will appear at the Festival, and who experienced back pain of his own.

“It’s about him making this film because he’s had back issues … and so it kind of follows his whole progression with Dr. Sarno,” Jambor said.

Galinsky told GO! his awareness of Sarno and his work dates back to the early 1980s, thanks to his father, a psychologist and head of University of North Carolina’s Department of Psychology.

“When I was in second grade, he almost died of an ulcer. And then as soon as he got over that, we had a fender bender, and he got whiplash,” Galinsky said. “That plagued him for years, and so someone finally gave him Dr. Sarno’s book, and a couple of weeks later he was completely better.” His father promptly bought a case of Sarno’s books to give away to others he thought they might help.

Later, Galinsky’s brother was diagnosed with Repetitive Stress Injury so debilitating doctors recommended surgery.

“That’s when my dad screamed at him, ‘If you do not go see Dr. Sarno, I am not talking to you again,’” Galinsky said. “And three weeks later he was better.”

Sarno’s work dates back to the early 1960s. Sarno, working as a rehab specialist at the New York University, “realized everything that he had been taught about back pain, like bed rest, and hot and cold, and electrical stimulation, didn’t really help his patients,” Galinsky said. When he looked at the data for standard treatment, “there was no science to support it,” Galinsky said. And when Sarno looked into his patients’ medical history, “upwards of 80 percent had a history of other things that were … known to be mind-body based.”

Talking to his patients, Sarno began to learn that, by and large, they were perfectionists, driven to be successful, good people — and often full of repressed personal needs.

“That act of keeping these feelings down creates stress, and creates fear, and creates all these different things, which cause an autoimmune response which can cause pain,” Galinsky said. “Dr. Sarno … said the real problem is we’re treating the symptomology, which is pain and not really understanding the true cause.”

To the thinking of BendFilm’s Jambor, “Many of us have had back pain issues, and so it certainly sounds like something you want to see. Other ways to deal with back pain that … don’t deal with surgery are always attractive. So the doc is very cool in that regard. And also the celebrities — it has Larry David and a few other folks that you would know.”

To help film aficionados sort through this year’s many films, BendFilm helped put together the following guide grouping films by theme. If you like adventure films, for instance, you’ll like the first category, below. For more, peruse the schedule grid (page 9), or visit bendfilm.org.

Set a course for adventure

• “The Tenth Step” (Opening night film, Oregon premiere, 61 minutes)

For his 50th birthday, rafting guide Gerry Moffatt, the film’s director, sets out on a 4,000-mile motorcycle trek across the Himalayas. He returns to a river where he’d almost died 20 years earlier, and in the process finds gratitude and closure in a deadly whitewater canyon.

• “Above the Fray” (directed by Graham Zimmerman, 7 minutes) — The story of famed climber Beth Rodden begins with a terrifying expedition to Kyrgyzstan.

• “At What Price” (directed by Tommy Day, 12 minutes) — Professional adventure and climbing photographer John Price explores the pervasive social media myth of “the perfect life.”

The animals

• “The Last Animals” (Oregon premiere, directed by Kate Brooks, 91 minutes)

Conservationists, scientists and activists battle poachers and traffickers to protect elephants and rhinos from extinction. From Africa to markets in Asia, the film looks at the global response to their slaughter.

• “Dog’s Best Friend” (world premiere, directed by Eryn Wilson, 78 minutes)

“Dog’s Best Friend” follows Jacob Leezak and his work rehabilitating man’s best friend one at a time. With usually no fewer than 30 dogs on his property in Sydney, Australia, Jacob specializes in powerful breeds such as pit bulls.

The best medicine

• “Your Ride is Here” (West Coast premiere, directed by Fraser Jones, 58 minutes)

Over the course of one night in Nashville, a jaded Uber driver chauffeurs his new trainee. They meet a cast of odd passengers who break down personal barriers, freed by the confines of a shared car, the dark of the night and the power of laughter mixed with heartbreak.

• “Mr. Roosevelt” (Oregon premiere, directed by Noël Wells, 90 minutes)

After a death in her family, struggling Los Angeles comedian Emily Martin (Wells, “Master of None”) returns to Austin, where she endures an awkward stay with her ex, and his new girlfriend, until the funeral.

• “Infinity Baby” (Oregon premiere, directed by Bob Byington, 73 minutes)

Shot in black and white, this narrative feature stars Nick Offerman as a stem cell researcher whose work results in babies who don’t age as a service for aspiring parents who never want to leave the baby bubble. His protégé, Ben (Kieran Culkin), can’t commit to relationships. His latest girlfriend (Trieste Kelly Dunn) is determined to thwart his meddlesome mom’s (Megan Mullally) efforts at sabotage.

Living in the USA

• “No Man’s Land” (Central Oregon premiere, directed by David Byars, 81 minutes)

Director David Byars offers an on-the-ground account of the 2016 standoff between federal authorities and protesters occupying Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

• “The Misogynists,” (West Coast premiere, directed by Onur Tukel, 85 minutes)

Living in a hotel room after separating from his wife of 35 years, a lonely Trump supporter celebrates Election Night with his sad-sack protégé, Baxter, undergoing marital woes of his own. As the night progresses and the two men begin to sense the historic political upset that is playing out before their eyes, their beliefs, motivations and identities are challenged.

• “Bomb City” (Northwest premiere, directed by Jameson Brooks, 95 minutes)

Based on a true story, this crime drama set in a conservative Texas town follows the battle between punks and a more affluent group of jocks that leads to a hate crime — and questions about the morality of American justice.

We are the world

• “The Road Movie” (Northwest premiere directed by Dmitrii Kalashnikov, 67 minutes, filmed in Russia)

“It’s all told through dash cameras,” said Jambor, who had the surreal experience of watching it on a laptop while sitting in the passenger seat on a cross-country drive with his wife. “It’s a portrait of modern-day Russia as told from the road … a mishmash of car crashes and road rage and just weird things you see from these people’s dash cameras. So it’s kind of a documentary.” It also includes audio from unseen, often bemused, drivers and passengers.

• “Liberation Day” (West Coast premiere, directed by Morten Traavik and Ugis Olte, 98 minutes)

Slovenian cult band Laibach becomes the first rock group to perform in North Korea in this documentary struggling to get their songs past censors for an audience never before exposed to alternative rock.

• “The Promised Band” (Northwest premiere, directed by Jen Heck, 89 minutes)

In this documentary, women from opposite sides of the Israeli/Palestine border agree to meet in person at the behest of an American friend. In a region where sides are separated not by more than physical walls, such meetings are nearly impossible.

Worlds of wonder

• “Dealt” (Northwest premiere, directed by Luke Korem, 86 minutes)

This documentary explores the life of card magician Richard Turner, renowned for his sleight of hand — all the more incredible due to the fact that he is completely blind.

• “42 Grams” (Northwest premiere, directed by Jack C. Newell, 81 minutes)

When chef Jake Bickelhaupt could not find a kitchen gig, he began cooking 15-course menus out of his apartment with his wife, Alexa. Their home becomes a foodie hot spot, leading them to open a real restaurant in an abandoned chicken eatery.

• “Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much” (World premiere, directed by CJ Wallis, 85 minutes)

Math teacher Ted Slauson spent much of his life studying and memorizing prize amounts on “The Price Is Right,” leading to his eventual banishment, a scandal covered in Esquire, Time and others.

Senior moments

• “Lucky” (Oregon premiere, directed by John Carroll Lynch, 88 minutes)

This narrative feature follows the spiritual journey of a 90-year-old atheist and the quirky characters that inhabit his off-the-map desert town. Harry Dean Stanton starred as Lucky in this role filmed shortly before the actor’s death, and the resulting film serves as a love letter to the life and career of Stanton — as well as a meditation on mortality, spirituality and human connection. Also stars David Lynch, Ed Begley Jr. and Tom Skerritt.

• “Big Sonia” (Central Oregon premiere directed by Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday, 93 minutes)

In this documentary feature, Sonia is served an eviction notice, forcing her to either open a new shop or retire. Facing retirement dredges up old fears, and a horrific past.

• “Dog Years” (Northwest premiere, directed by Adam Rifkin, 94 minutes)

In this narrative film, Burt Reynolds stars as octogenarian Vic Edwards — once a major movie star known for his mustachioed looks and swagger. An invitation to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival leads Vic to reassess his life.

Western tales

• “The Ballad of Lefty Brown” (Oregon premiere, directed by Jared Moshé, 111 minutes) In this narrative feature, frontier lawman Eddie Johnson (Peter Fonda) is unexpectedly killed, his longtime sidekick and friend Lefty Brown (Bill Pullman) must avenge his death. Also stars Kathy Baker, Jim Caviezel, Joe Anderson, Diego Josef, Tommy Flanagan and Peter Fonda.

• “Walking Out” (Oregon premiere, directed by Alex and Andrew Smith, 96 minutes)

In this thriller, Cal, an estranged, loner father and his teenage son must rely on each other for survival in an unforgiving Montana wilderness after Cal is critically wounded. Stars Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins and Bill Pullman.

Crime stories

• “The Scent of Rain & Lightning” (Northwest premiere, directed by Blake Robbins, 102 minutes)

Based on the novel “The Scent of Rain & Lightning,” by Nancy Pickard, this film is the story of a young woman forced to revisit old wounds when she learns her parents’ killer has been released from jail.

• “Forever ‘B’” (Oregon premiere, directed by Skye Borgman, 91 minutes)

A documentary about an Idaho kidnapping in 1974, “Forever ‘B’” is the story of 12-year-old Jan Broberg, kidnapped not once but twice by her family’s best friend and neighbor. The second abduction triggered a nationwide FBI manhunt.

All in the family

• “For Now” (Central Oregon premiere, directed by Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes, 79 minutes) In this moving road comedy, Hannah, an Australian expatriate living in Los Angeles, organizes an audition at the San Francisco Ballet Company for her younger professional dancer brother, leading Hannah, her boyfriend, Kane, and best friend, Katherine, on a road trip along the California coast.

• “Dr. Brinks & Dr. Brinks” (West Coast premiere, directed by Josh Crockett, 86 minutes)

In this narrative film, two siblings reunite at the funeral of their parents, a couple of doctors-without-borders who rarely stuck around long enough to parent them. The two struggle with their lack of grief, with each other and their parents’ imprint on them.

Oregon-based

• “Earth Seasoned … #GapYear” (Central Oregon premiere, directed by Molly Kreuzman, 75 minutes)

Diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, and short-term memory problems, Tori finds her greatest teacher in nature, living for a year with four other young women in the Oregon Cascades.

• “Shut Up Anthony” (Central Oregon premiere, directed by Kyle Eaton, 93 minutes)

Filmed largely in Central Oregon, this debut feature comedy by Kyle Eaton is the story of neurotic Anthony, who after a series of losses heads to the family’s timeshare, where he discovers estranged family friend Tim, an alcoholic theology professor.

The reluctant roommates clash over relationships, religion, coaster etiquette and more.

• “Portlandia Squirrels” (directed by Rob Shaw, 4 minutes)

Three rats look into what makes humans treat their squirrel cousins so nice while they get the short end of the stick. Featuring the voices of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.

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