Big news (as reported yesterday) for the BendFilm Festival. The board of directors has announced that they will be changing leadership with the resignation of Orit Schwartz who has been the festival director since 2010. They also announced that they will be restructuring the festival, a familiar sentiment to their decision to restructure in 2008.
Here is the press release the Source received yesterday in full from BendFilm.[jump]
BendFilm Festival Board of Directors Changes Staff Leadership to Restructure Festival
Despite the most successful film festival in the 10 years since its inception, the BendFilm board of directors announced yesterday that they have restructured the organization and Orit Schwartz, festival director since 2010, is departing.
BendFilm celebrated its tenth anniversary this past October welcoming 100 filmmakers to downtown Bend and the Old Mill District to present their films to the Central Oregon community, which turned out in record numbers to enjoy Bend’s lauded and beloved film festival.
According to a press release received from the office manager of the festival, Lisa Koch, in order to sustain the success and momentum the festival has earned in a decade of progress, and to increase opportunities for community involvement, the BendFilm board has decided to restructure the organization.
The board noted in the release that due to the tremendous growth throughout 10 years, BendFilm has decided it must reorganize the tremendous work of running a festival by dividing the staff positions into creative and operational jobs. The two new positions will include both a director and a program manager—to work in tandem with support from an office manager, the board of directors, a volunteer force and sponsors—to plan, promote and implement the festival.
The festival director's position, which Schwartz held, has been eliminated. The board offered Schwartz the program manager position with a lower salary as part of this restructure but she declined to accept the demotion. Schwartz posted on her Facebook page: "After four years with BendFilm Festival I am looking for my next adventure. BendFilm has been the raddest experience for me. Thank you to all the amazing filmmakers, sponsors, donors, volunteers and the Bend community."
The press release said: "BendFilm is grateful for her energy and contributions to the festival during her tenure, and wish her the best in her future accomplishments."
The current BendFilm board of directors includes President Frank W. Groundwater (a lawyer in private practice), Secretary April Munks who works for the Department of Human Services as a Lean Leader, Kim Cooper Findling (nationally published writer), James Foster (professor of political science at OSU-Cascades), Michael Gough (filmmaker, principal of Green Scream Media), Karen Koppel (an event professional and architect), Gina McClard (an international legal consultant for NGOs and Women’s Rights groups in Africa) and Pam Wakefield (retired local business owner).
The festival’s 10th year drew increased support from community and independent filmmakers with awards nearing $70,000. BendFilm organizers announced record box office sales with a 26 percent box office increase in revenue and record attendance from audience members and filmmakers. Early reports noted the Festival continues to gain momentum and praise from local and visiting film buffs.
“This year’s festival had a stronger sense of community ownership,” Festival Director Orit Schwartz said at the time. “Local support, coupled with the amazing films and an incredible jury has made this our most successful year yet.”
According to Schwartz, more than 100 filmmakers attended the festival, representing 47 of the 82 officially selected films.
Awards were presented in 11 categories including The $5,000 Brooks Resources Best of Show, The Panavision Best Narrative Feature with a $60,000 camera rental package prize, $10,000 from Independent Women for Independent Film and several other cash prize categories. Major sponsors included the Oxford Hotel, Bendbroadband, Cascade Publications Inc., OP, the Source Weekly, Hand in Hand, Regal Cinamas, tbd advertising, Visit Bend, Deschutes Brewery, Horizon Broadcast, CCITec, McMenamins, In Focus Eye Care, Old Mill District and Smart Solutions.
BendFilm will immediately begin recruiting for the director and program manager positions. See www.bendfilm.org soon for details.
BendFilm Festival 2014 will take place October 9-12.