L to R: stills from Confessions, Three Grains of Salt, Yellow and The Right to Joy, official selections at this year’s Bend Film Festival

50 of 68 Short Films Will Be Oscar-Eligible Following BendFilm Premiere;
20th Annual Festival Unspools In Person October 12-15

BEND, OR — AUGUST 31, 2023 — BendFilm today announced 68 short films, complementing last week’s announcement of four feature competition categories which will screen at the 20th Annual Bend Film Festival, presented in person October 12-15 and virtually October 16-22, 2023. This year’s short films were selected from a record-high 218 submissions, originating from over 50 countries, and have been programmed in nineteen thematic blocks, one of which will open the Festival on October 12.

“This year on our 20th birthday, we’re proud to feature some truly exquisite shorts on Opening Night,” said BendFilm Program Director Selin Sevinç. “Audiences look to us to curate the most compelling and exciting program of shorts, and we’re fortunate that filmmakers are keen to get their work on our screens. We love all our shorts categories: the form offers nimble possibilities that let directors’ capabilities shine. These filmmakers are the future, and deserve our undivided attention – regardless of runtime.”

Three of the Festival’s five shorts categories (Animated, Indigenous, and Narrative) are recognized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® as Oscar®-qualifying. The program also features Documentary and Outdoor & Environmental shorts. Films are presented across nineteen screening blocks, and, in time-honored tradition, some will be presented before various feature films. The shorts blocks for the 2023 Bend Film Festival are:

Matters of Life & Death (Opening Night): A striking, and at times humorous glimpse into our humanity through the lens of our ultimate vulnerability.

Art Against the Machine: Art as a revolutionary act takes courage and determination, and sometimes a renewed commitment to humanity.

Earthbound: In the face of a rapidly evolving earth, who are we, where do we stand, and what can we do?

Late Night: Be prepared to move out of your comfort zone and experience the tensions, prickles, and humor of being at odds with social expectations.

On the Verge: On the verge of a decision, on the cusp of change, these characters play their hand and leap into the unknown.

The Right to Joy: United by their different circumstances and perspectives, these individuals claim their right to joy.

Stories We Tell: For these characters, all it takes is a story or an idea to transport themselves into a whole different heart-state.

Ties That Bind: Whether by blood, choice, or circumstance, characters who find themselves bonded together.

Transformations: When transformation is necessary to face the inevitable and claim who you are.

Alongside the shorts announced today, the Festival will also showcase a full roster of feature films, offscreen panels and events, awards and honorees to be announced in the coming weeks.

BendFilm will continue its filmmaker-focused efforts to award over $3,500 in prizes directly to independent filmmakers in these competition categories including $500 for Best Narrative Short, $500 for Best Animated Short, $500 for Best Documentary Short, $500 for Best Indigenous Short, $500 for Best Student Short, $500 for Best NW Short and Audience Award for Best Short. Passes, which offer various levels of advanced and exclusive access and benefits, are on sale now. Individual film tickets go on sale to the public on September 22.

Animated Short Films showcase the art and craft of stories created with innovative, hands-on methods. Work premiering in this category at the 2023 Bend Film Festival qualifies for Oscar® nomination.

American Sikh
Directed by Ryan Westra, and Vishavjit Singh | 10 min. | USA | Northwest Premiere
The animated true story of a turban-wearing American who overcomes a lifetime of hate by becoming a new superhero: Sikh Captain America.
Block: Transformations

Ana Morphose
Directed by João Rodrigues | 10 min. | Portugal | West Coast Premiere
A little girl reads herself to sleep. As she dozes off, the physical world starts melting into an alternate reality where the contents of a book rule over the laws of physics.
Block: Transformations

Directed by oolluo | 3 min. | Taiwan, USA | Northwest Premiere
A story about a money machine, a poor man, and cat food.
Screens with feature film Finding the Money

Directed by Michael Faust | 7 min. | Israel | Northwest Premiere
Island recounts the history of a small secluded island over the course of several millennia, to reveal a telling lesson about human nature.
Block: Earthbound

Swing to the Moon
Directed by Marie Bordessoule, Adriana Bouissie, Nadine De Boer, Elisa Drique, Chloé Lauzu, Vincent Levrero, Solenne Moreau | 6 min. | France | Central Oregon Premiere
Presented in French with English subtitles
Living in the forest, little spider Temi dreams of catching the Moon.
Screens with feature film Story & Pictures By

Tomato Kitchen
Directed by Junyi Xiao | 9 min. | China | Northwest Premiere
An unexpected incident unveils Tomato Kitchen’s dark truth and Lee’s hidden past.
Block: Late Night

The Voice in the Hollow
Directed by Miguel Ortega | 10 min. | USA, Colombia | Oregon Premiere
Presented in Swahili with English subtitles
An African fable of sisterhood, envy and ancient evil.
Block: Stories We Tell

Indigenous Short Films center on Indigenous and Native perspectives and stories from around the world. Work premiering in this category at the 2023 Bend Film Festival qualifies for Oscar® nomination.

Directed by Zeppelin Zeerip | 16 min. | USA | Northwest Premiere
Apayauq Reitan’s journey of gender, mental health, and purpose on her way to become the first out transgender woman to complete the legendary Iditarod sled dog race across Alaska.
Block: The Right to Joy

Cara Romero: Following the Light
Directed by Kaela Waldstein | 27 min. | USA | Oregon Premiere
An intimate look at the work of Native American contemporary fine art photographer Cara Romero.
Block: Art Against the Machine

Jonathan Thunder: Good Mythology
Directed by Sergio Rapu | 14 min. | USA | West Coast Premiere
Ojibwe artist Jonathan Thunder explores the mythic inspirations of his surrealist work.
Block: Art Against the Machine

Keepers of the Land
Directed by Deirdre Leowinata, & Douglas Neasloss | 29 min. | Canada | Northwest Premiere
One small First Nation on Canada’s West Coast is taking big steps to reclaim power in a territory still rich with life.
Screens with feature film Patrol

Paddle Tribal Waters
Directed by Paul Robert Wolf Wilson, & Rush Sturges | 10 min. | USA | Northwest Premiere
When the largest dam removal project in history began, a group of indigenous youth learned to whitewater kayak in hopes of becoming the first people to paddle the restored river from source to sea.
Block: The Right to Joy

Things You Know But Cannot Explain
Directed by Michelle Hernandez, & Chantal Jung | 11 min. | USA | Northwest Premiere
Presented in Soulatluk with English subtitles
An experimental stop-motion animation short based on the artwork of Wiyot artist Rick Bartow.
Block: Art Against the Machine

Directed by Ritchie Hemphill, Ryan Haché | 17 min. | Canada | Oregon Premiere
‘Nakwaxda’xw Elder Colleen Hemphill tells the story of her life as a youth growing up on a float house.
Block: The Right to Joy

Narrative Short Films tell fictional stories that are by turns imaginative, speculative, suspicious, hilarious and outrageous. Work premiering in this category at the 2023 Bend Film Festival qualifies for Oscar® nomination.

Directed by Ana Lambarri | 22 min. | Spain | US Premiere
Presented in Spanish with English subtitles
A dinner at home turns into another nightmarish day for Sara.
Block: On the Verge

Big Lot
Directed by Cassidy Batiz | 8 min. | USA | World Premiere
While seeking shelter in a nearby supermarket, a young woman must make a decision about the future of her relationship.
Block: Transformations

Directed by Stephanie Kaznocha | 11 min. | USA | Northwest Premiere
After the death of a friend, two nuns in their golden years contemplate what their future holds. One confession leads to another, and before they know it, they’re embarking on an adventure.
Block: Matters of Life & Death (Opening Night)

Death & Ramen
Directed by Tiger Ji | 14 min. | USA, Hong Kong | Northwest Premiere
A ramen chef botches his suicide. The Grim Reaper shows up at his door anyway. They decide to go on a late-night odyssey where, over a bowl of noodles, they discover what it means to be human.
Block: Matters of Life & Death (Opening Night)

A Day In February
Directed by Klaas Diersmann | 7 min. | UK | Northwest Premiere
Presented in Ukrainian with English subtitles
In another country, separated from her family, one phone call is all Galyna has to ensure their safety.
Block: Transformations

Directed by Tyler Mckenzie Evans | 16 min. | Canada | Central Oregon Premiere
In a Black suburb, where a couple begins to notice that their neighbors are disappearing and white people are moving in. They soon discover something much darker.
Block: Transformations

Directed by Maissa Lihedheb | 18 min. | Germany | West Coast Premiere
Presented in German with English subtitles
A date takes an unexpected turn in this meditation on race, politics and history in Germany.
Block: Late Night

Don’t You Go Nowhere
Directed by Bryan Poyser | 8 min. | USA | Oregon Premiere
A jazz dynamo belts his way through his weekly set until he makes an unexpected connection with a fan.
Block: Ties That Bind

The Ghost of Los Angeles
Directed by Bobby Louise White, & Brig White | 11 min. | USA | Northwest Premiere
Jane searches high and low trying to find any sense of human connection in Los Angeles, the loneliest city in the world.
Block: Ties That Bind

Help Me Understand
Directed by Aemilia Scott | 14 min. | USA | Northwest Premiere
Six women come to a consensus.
Block: Matters of Life & Death (Opening Night)

I’m On Fire
Directed by Michael Spiccia | 24 min. | USA, Australia | Northwest Premiere
Set over the course of a single week, I’m on Fire tells the story of a toxic marriage seen through the lens of a twelve-year-old boy, and the critical step he takes in his difficult path toward adulthood.
Block: On the Verge

The Jennifer Meyers Story
Directed by Caroline Symons | 12 min. | USA | West Coast Premiere
A mock true-crime episode covers the 1988 disappearance of fictional teenager Jennifer Meyers. The woman operating the mini-models that reenact the scenes begins to discover the danger lurking in her one bedroom apartment.
Screens with feature film Another Body

Just Kidding, I Actually Love You
Directed by Anna Rose Duckworth | 11 min. | New Zealand | US Premiere
A runaway fiancée breaks in to execute an ill-advised romantic gesture, and finds evidence her ex is happier without her.
Screens with feature film Summer Solstice

Knight of Fortune
Directed by Lasse Lyskjær Noer | 24 min. | Denmark | Northwest Premiere
Presented in Danish & Swedish with English subtitles
The loss of a loved one, the grief, the risk of yellow skin, and a coffin; that is too much for Karl to face.
Block: Matters of Life & Death (Opening Night)

Miranda’s Mind
Directed by Maddalena Crespi | 17 min. | Italy | US Premiere
After having her book proposal rejected by yet another publisher, Miranda is trying to accept the fact that she might never achieve her purpose.
Screens with feature film Sometimes I Think About Dying

Nothing Holier Than a Dolphin
Directed by Isabella Margara | 17 min. | Greece | Northwest Premiere
Presented in Greek with English subtitles
In a small Mediterranean village, an ancient myth unexpectedly comes to life.
Block: Stories We Tell

On Duty
Directed by Yoona Degrémont | 10 min. | France | World Premiere
Presented in Korean with English subtitles
A funeral home, somewhere in South Korea. To combat boredom, an employee in uniform daydreams about an imaginary fight–which is about to become real.
Block: Matters of Life & Death (Opening Night)

The Payphone / TH3 P4YPH0N3
Directed by Taylor Morden* | 7 min. | USA | World Premiere
An experimental short film about a woman who receives a mysterious phone call.
*Not actually the director
Block: Art Against the Machine

Pop Tart Sugar Dip
Directed by Ashley Amanda Chan, & Josh Whalen | 9 min. | USA | West Coast Premiere
Forced awake from an episode of PTSD, a young woman must finally open up about her past trauma in order to embark on the next stage of healing.
Block: Ties That Bind

Portrait of the Con-Artist as a Young Man
Directed by Ryan Leedu | 11 min. | Canada | World Premiere
A day in the life of an idealistic, aspiring con-artist living in Edmonton, Alberta.
Block: Stories We Tell

Directed by Raymond Knudsen | 14 min. | USA | Oregon Premiere
A bodybuilding fever dream fueled by childhood trauma, food porn and acid techno music.
Block: Late Night

Radio Silence
Directed by Kerren Lumer-Klabbers | 16 min. | Denmark | US Premiere
Presented in Danish with English subtitles
Breaking up with someone you have loved can be one of the hardest things to do.
Block: On the Verge

A Real One
Directed by McKenzie Chinn | 16 min. | USA | Northwest Premiere
A bright teenager on Chicago’s south side learns the power and persistence of true friendship when a closely-held secret is discovered amid the final weeks of her senior year in high school.
Block: Ties That Bind

A Roadside Banquet
Directed by Peiqi Peng | 16 min. | USA, China | Northwest Premiere
Presented in Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles
An eleven year old Chinese girl turns into a feather duster at her baby brother’s first birthday party, soon after learning her parents only ever wanted a boy.
Block: Stories We Tell

Scotty’s Vag
Directed by Chaconne Martin-Berkowicz | 16 min. | USA | Central Oregon Premiere
The night of a sorority hazing event, a college freshman learns just how far she’s willing to go to impress an older girl.
Block: Late Night

Shoes Off
Directed by Joel Jay Blacker | 7 min. | USA | Northwest Premiere
After a night out, two drunk best friends share just how much they care for each other.
Block: Late Night

Susie Sells Beds
Directed by Martin Ekelund | 6 min. | Sweden | World Premiere
Presented in Swedish with English subtitles
Susie sells beds. The only issue? Susie has just found out the beds she sells are sentient.
Block: Late Night

There Are No Ghosts
Directed by Nacho Solana | 15 min. | Spain | Oregon Premiere
Presented in Spanish with English subtitles
Andrea is a young woman with a special purpose. When someone feels a paranormal phenomenon at home, she is the only one who can bring them clarity.
Block: Ties That Bind

Things Unheard Of
Directed by Ramazan Kilic | 16 min. | Türkiye | West Coast Premiere
Presented in Kurdish with English subtitles
A 10-year-old Kurdish girl tries to make a Kurdish-speaking television for her mute grandmother.
Block: Stories We Tell

This Is Not A Place For You
Directed by Ceyda Aşar | 15 min. | Türkiye | West Coast Premiere
Presented in Turkish with English subtitles
As a young woman shops for a new apartment in a big city, she copes with her growing anxiety by deciding to follow her instincts.
Screens with feature film Q

The Third Ear
Directed by Nathan Ginter | 13 min. | USA | West Coast Premiere
After seeing a botched depiction of himself, a nude drawing model sprouts an ear from the back of his head, spiraling his life out of control.
Block: Late Night

Three Grains of Salt
Directed by Ingrid Chikhaoui | 26 min. | France | Northwest Premiere
Presented in French with English subtitles
Two sisters, aged eight and five, hang out alone at home in the middle of the countryside.
Block: Stories We Tell

Directed by Bren Cukier | 15 min. | Poland | Northwest Premiere
Presented in Polish with English subtitles
Maria is an actress with secret plans for Thursday, but her day takes an unexpected turn.
Block: On the Verge

The Vacation
Directed by Jarreau Carrillo | 10 min. | USA | Northwest Premiere
A Black man attempts to take a vacation.
Block: Matters of Life & Death (Opening Night)

We Were Meant To
Directed by Tari Wariebi | 27 min. | USA | Oregon Premiere
Akil, an African American teen, has wings and one goal: to take his first flight.
Block: Transformations

Directed by Elham Ehsas | 12 min. | Afghanistan, UK | Northwest Premiere
Presented in Dari with English subtitles
After the Taliban takeover, an Afghan woman must face a new future.
Block: Transformations

Documentary Short Films tell true, often unheard or underexamined, stories in unexpected, sometimes formally innovative ways.

The Alchemy of David
Directed by Nicholas Woytuk | 15 min. | USA | Northwest Premiere
An artist-photographer reflects on the state of his medium and wonders if the digital age has taken the magic out of making art.
Block: Art Against the Machine

Before Birth
Directed by Álex Mena, Carmen Jiménez | 20 min. | Spain | US Premiere
Presented in Spanish with English subtitles
Before Birth is a farewell letter that tries to give closure to the mourning of two characters, proposing an encounter in a remote place.
Screens with feature film King Coal

Blood of Iran
Directed by Alicia Afshar | 17 min. | USA | Oregon Premiere
Serving as a bridge between generations, this poetic yet political journey uplifts women behind the Iranian Revolution. The film dances between Iran’s golden pastime and into a harrowing genocide. Through a window of dreams, there’s hope for a better future.
Screens with feature film Patria y Vida: The Power of Music

Directed by Alex Ramsey | 7 min. | USA | West Coast Premiere
Presented in Spanish and English with English subtitles
Edward, finding his path to citizenship bureaucratically impeded, grapples with the idea of leaving his life in New York behind forever in exchange for a long overdue homecoming in Mexico.
Screens with feature film Talia’s Journey

Love, Jamie
Directed by Karla Murthy | 20 min. | USA | Northwest Premiere
The story of Jamie Diaz, a transgender artist incarcerated in Texas, and the enduring friendship that brought her art of liberation and pride to the outside world.
Block: Art Against the Machine

Miss Brown
Directed by Christina Burchard | 24 min. | USA | West Coast Premiere
Gina Fiore is a professional gambler who taught herself how to count cards at the age of 23. She’s an expert in strategy and subterfuge, traveling the country, taking over 10 million dollars from the casinos.
Block: On the Verge

The Orchestra Chuck Built
Directed by Christopher Stoudt | 22 min. | USA | West Coast Premiere
A former lawyer’s mission to change orchestras’ lack of diversity, creating life-changing opportunities through ICYOLA in LA.
Screens with feature film Dusty & Stones

A Part Of You / Made Me Whole Again
Directed by Destyn Fuller-Hope, Andrew Wonder | 5 min. | USA | West Coast Premiere
Two Lives. One Gift. A post-kidney transplant memoir, told as a dream-like prayer to Mom.
Screens with feature film Anima: My Father’s Dresses

Strong Grandma
Directed by Cecilia Brown, Winslow Crane-Murdoch | 15 min. | USA | West Coast Premiere
Catherin Kuehn, a 95-year old world record winning powerlifter, prepares for her final lift.
Block: The Right to Joy

Then Comes The Body
Directed by Jacob Krupnick | 15 min. | USA | West Coast Premiere
When a video of kids dancing in the rain goes viral, it brings global attention to an unlikely ballet school outside Lagos, Nigeria.
Screens with feature film Kite Zo A

The Volunteer
Directed by David Brodie | 35 min. | USA | West Coast Premiere
After being mistaken for the enemy by fellow U.S. forces during the Vietnam War, a Japanese-American veteran struggles to overcome his feelings of guilt and anger, find a sense of belonging, and reunite with the friend who saved his life.
Block: Ties That Bind

Outdoor and Environmental Short Films: seven films centered on the relationships between humans and nature — by turns adversarial, exploitative, mutually beneficial and endlessly evolving.

Earthbound: Nzambi Matee
Directed by Farhoud Meybodi | 48 min. | USA, Japan, Kenya | Oregon Premiere
Presented in English and Swahili with English subtitles
Earthbound: Nzambi Matee explores the life and achievements of a Kenyan innovator and entrepreneur who is tackling the plastic waste epidemic in her hometown of Nairobi. The film emphasizes the boundless potential of human ingenuity and serves as an optimistic reminder of the impact that each of us can have on our local communities.
Block: Earthbound

Everything Wrong and Nowhere to Go
Directed by Sindha Agha | 12 min. | USA | Oregon Premiere
Plagued by overwhelming anxiety about climate change, a filmmaker decides to start seeing a climate psychologist in hopes that she can find some peace of mind at what she’s pretty sure is the end of the world.
Block: Earthbound

The Haenyeo of Jeju Island
Directed by Vern Moen | 11 min. | South Korea | World Premiere
Presented in Korean with English subtitles
On the remote island of Jeju, a mother and daughter, both divers, restore their relationship while preserving their heritage.
Block: The Right to Joy

One For All
Directed by Michael CB Stevens, Spencer Miller | 19 min. | USA | West Coast Premiere
Purple Heart veteran loses his leg 25 years after the Gulf war, then attempts to become the first person to backflip on one ski.
Screens with feature film No Legs. All Heart.

Range Rider
Directed by Colin Arisman | 29 min. | USA | Oregon Premiere
As wolves repopulate Washington State, conflict is heating up with rural ranching communities. Range rider Daniel Curry’s job is to patrol wild areas on horseback, creating a buffer between wolves and the cattle herds that graze on public lands. Can he keep the peace between ranchers and wolves?
Block: Earthbound

The Right to Joy
Directed by Jay Melena, Tim Kressin | 20 min. | USA | Oregon Premiere
After surviving a rare cougar attack while cycling, Izzy Sederbaum overcame anxiety and anti-trans hate by rediscovering the joy of biking and promoting trans inclusion in the sport.
Block: The Right to Joy

Swimming Through
Directed by Samantha Sanders | 15 min. | USA | Central Oregon Premiere
Three women forge a friendship by swimming through the winter in Lake Michigan as a way to cope with the pandemic.
Screens with feature film Exposure.