It might be hard for some longtime Bendites to believe, but BendFilm is now in it's seventh year and has long since shed its "new festival" tag, solidifying a reputation among filmmakers and cinema fans for high-caliber shorts, features, animation and documentaries. Once again, the festival will spread throughout town, as well as all the way to Sisters, showing films at the Regal Old Mill, the Tower Theatre, McMenamins Old St. Francis School and, new this year, the Oxford Hotel.
Even if you hit the pavement super hard this weekend, you're probably going to miss something, given the sheer volume of films that will hit the screen, but here are a few highlights of what we're looking forward to this weekend.
The Star-Packed Potential Blockbuster: I Love You, Phillip Morris
There has been some star power on the screen at BendFilm in the past, but few flicks have had the sort of wide-distribution potential of I Love You, Phillip Morris, the biopic of conman Steven Jay Russell starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. In this film, Carrey plays Russell, a family man who ends up in jail after deciding he's gay (not to mention a criminal) and soon falls in love with Ewan McGregor (who plays the title role character). The film has made the festival rounds but, isn't due out in the states until later this winter, making this a pretty sweet booking for BendFilm. 8 p.m. Friday, Regal 5.
The Film We're Presenting:
Do No Harm
This year, the Source is sponsoring a film and it's one that we felt carried with it an important and timely message, so we chose Do No Harm, a documentary that focuses on two medical professionals in Georgia who blew the whistle on unethical billing practices at a local hospital. The film, directed by Rebecca Schanberg, shows how the two, Dr. John Bagnato, a general surgeon, and Charles Rehberg, who was instrumental in exposing the billing practices, then went on to further investigate other Georgia hospitals, finding that the problem of non-profit hospitals aggressively overcharging uninsured patients was a pattern not just in that state, but across the nation. What follows is a class-action lawsuit by attorney Dick Scruggs, who gathered a team of lawyers to file suit against 37 healthcare systems in 26 states. Since its inception, socially conscious documentaries have been a key element of BendFilm and this year is also full of films that take a look into issues that are often looked over. And Do No Harm, with it's sharp and detailed look into the problems surrounding the health care industry, is certainly one of those films. 7 p.m. Thursday, Regal 5.
The Movie Made in Your Back Yard: Meek's Cutoff
Directed by Kelly Reichardt, who also did 2008's Wendy and Lucy (which was also filmed in Oregon), Meek's Cutoff tells the story of settlers tackling the Oregon Trail who put their trust in a guide who promises to take them across the Cascades. The film stars Michelle Williams and Paul Dano, and was shot out in eastern Oregon's Harney County - a vast and largely untouched region that actually borders Deschutes County. The film debuted at the Venice Film Festival to hugely positive reviews and its appearance at BendFilm will be only its second time on the screen in the U.S. 10 a.m. Saturday, Regal 5.
The Kids Will Like: Future Filmmakers and Kids' Day
One of the most unique public outreach elements of BendFilm is the 72-Hour Shootout, which gives young filmmakers a mere three days to get out and make a film. This year, the festival chose eight films from students between the 8th and 12th grades, and these movies will be shown at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Tower Theatre. This is a great way to expose kids to the filmmaking process and the youngsters should also check out BendFilm Kids, a two-hour block of programming at McMenamins Old St. Francis School between 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday.
The Parties: Because it's Not Just About the Movies
While the point of BendFilm is to view as much of the wide-ranging scope of films featured at the festival as possible, there are plenty of extra-curricular activities to take part in, including a number of parties.
If you have a full festival pass, you can hit up both the Opening Night Gala on Thursday night (6-8 p.m.) and the awards ceremony on Saturday night (7 p.m.), both of which will take place at the Oxford Hotel. You can also buy individual tickets to those parties.
But there's some free festivities to take in as well, including the Bourbon Street Bash (at Bourbon Street Bend, 10pm Thursday) and after-parties at Level 2 and the Blacksmith on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively.