In its eighth year, the BendFilm Festival has become a community-driven event that draws filmmakers from across the country and promises film fanatics a rich weekend full of good parties, great conversations and—best of all—truly fabulous films. “BendFilm has truly become an event that people look forward to,” says Artistic Director Orit Schwartz.

400 submissions were narrowed down to 85 films to screen October 6 through 9 in downtown Bend, the Old Mill District and in Sisters. “We’ve got some really spectacular films this year,” says Schwartz, who oversees a film selection process driven by the feedback of a committee comprised of community members.

Several of this year’s picks look promising. Defining Beauty follows the Ms. Wheelchair America contest, documenting the lives and dreams of several would-be pageant-winners confined to wheelchairs. Wild Horse, Wild Ride follows another contest—the Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge, in which wild horses, never touched by human hands, are rounded up and doled out to trainers to tame. The film was hailed by The Hollywood Reporter as a “crowd-pleaser with a big heart.” East Fifth Bliss, starring Michael C. Hall and Peter Fonda, is a comedy/drama tracing the travails of 35-year-old Morris Bliss, who is clamped in the jaws of New York City inertia until a relationship with a younger woman bumps him from stasis.

“There are several common themes,” says Schwartz. “We have several films reflecting our current world affairs.” A few selected films are set in the Northwest, many made by regional filmmakers. Filmgoers will recognize Portland’s Multnomah Village in the quirky, dark, hilarious drama Rid of Me, directed by Portland filmmaker James Westby. “Bucksville,” about a radical militia, and directed by Portland director Chel White, was filmed in the rich woods of Southwest Washington state. And Bend-born filmmakers and first winners of BendFilm’s Future Filmmaker award, Ian Dalesky and Patrick Dawn, return to their hometown to screen their debut film, Alliance.

Membership begins at $50, film festival tickets run $12 per film, and full weekend passes begin at $110 for films-only and $175 for a full festival passes. Many free events will be offered this year, including panels consisting of filmmaker and industry experts and the BendFilm Kids Sunday morning event at McMenamins, which screens a film particularly intended for a younger audience. For grown-ups, this year’s fest promises “parties, after-parties, and after-after parties,” says Schwartz, many of which are held at local restaurants and bars and require no entry ticket or cover charge.

“People are rooting for BendFilm,” says Schwartz. “They want to support us, and come out to see some great films at the same time.” See www.bendfilm.org for more information.

About the Author: Kim Cooper Findling

Kim Cooper Findling grew up on the Oregon Coast but became a Central Oregon girl in the mid-90s, taking in the sunny skies and never looking back (expect a few wistful glances at the ocean). She is the editor of “Central Oregon Magazine” and the author of “Day Trips From Portland: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler” and “Chance of Sun: An Oregon Memoir.” Catch her around the state sampling microbrews, hiking river trails, taking silly pictures with her iPhone, and camping with her husband and two daughters in the family tent trailer, Brutus.

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