L to R: stills from The Disappearance of Shere Hite, The Space Race, Jamojaya, The Pod Generation, official Spotlight selections at this year’s Bend Film Festival
BEND, OR — SEPTEMBER 14, 2023 — BendFilm today announced the twelve feature films in its Spotlight section, narrative and documentary works that will screen at the 20th Annual Bend Film Festival, presented in person October 12-15 and virtually October 16-22, 2023.
“Spotlight films are critically-acclaimed favorites from festivals throughout the year and around the world,” said Selin Sevinç, BendFilm’s Program Director. “It’s exciting to bring this diverse range of stories to our audiences here for their regional premieres – a perfect complement to our discovery-focused main Competition program, as we convene filmmakers and other creative people for conversations about their work.”
May December, directed by Todd Haynes, will make its Northwest premiere as the Festival’s Closing Night film; Sleep, directed by Jason Yu, will make its Northwest premiere as the Midnight Spotlight film. Spotlight films are playing in a juried competition for a trophy and laurels, with winners to be announced in conjunction with the Competition sections’ awards on the Festival’s awards night on Saturday, Oct 14.
Alongside the Spotlight films announced today, the Festival has previously announced their slates of Competition Features, Short Films, Local Focus films and music videos. These will screen alongside offscreen panels and events, including awards. Bend Film Festival is recognized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® as Oscar® qualifying for narrative, animated and indigenous short films. Passes, which offer various levels of advance and exclusive access and benefits, are on sale now. Individual film tickets go on sale to the public on September 22. Interested members of the media may now apply for press accreditation, including interview request consideration.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURES SPOTLIGHT:
The Disappearance of Shere Hite
Directed by Nicole Newnham
116 minutes | USA | Oregon Premiere | IFC Films
The Hite Report, a groundbreaking study of the intimate experiences of women, remains one of the bestselling books of all time since its publication in 1976. Drawn from anonymous survey responses, the book challenged restrictive conceptions of sex and opened a dialogue in popular culture around women’s pleasure. Its charismatic author, Shere Hite, a feminist sex researcher and former model, became the public messenger of women’s secret confessions. With each subsequent bestseller, she engaged television titans in unforgettably explicit debates about sexuality, while suffering the backlash her controversial findings provoked. But few remember Shere Hite today. What led to her erasure?
The Eternal Memory
Directed by Maite Alberdi
85 minutes | Chile | Central Oregon Premiere | The Film Collaborative
Presented in Spanish with English subtitles.
Augusto and Paulina have been together and in love for 25 years. Eight years ago, their lives were forever changed by Augusto’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. As one of Chile’s most prominent cultural commentators and television presenters, Augusto is no stranger to building an archive of memory. Now he turns that work to his own life, trying to hold on to his identity with the help of his beloved wife. Paulina, whose own pre-eminence as a famous actress and Chilean Minister of Culture, predates her ceaselessly inventive manner of engaging with her husband. Day by day, the couple faces this challenge head-on, relying on the tender affection and sense of humor shared between them that remains, remarkably, fully intact.
Directed by Jakub Piątek
91 minutes | Poland | Oregon Premiere | Greenwich Ent.
Presented in Polish, English, Chinese, Italian and Russian with English subtitles.
Pianoforte follows an eclectic group of young musicians from around the world who have prepared since they were children for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete at the legendary International Chopin Piano Competition, held every five years in Warsaw, Poland. Offering a rare behind-the-scenes look backstage at the triumphant highs and crushing lows of competition, filmmaker Jakub Piątek captures the intense pressure these musicians face in an experience that combines tears of exhaustion and despair with the ecstatic joy of playing. Pianoforte is both a testament to the power of remarkable music and an intimate coming-of-age portrait of young pianists navigating the rigors of competition, intense practice sessions, new friendships, lots of drama, and even more nerves.
The Space Race
Directed by Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado De Mendoza
90 minutes | USA | Northwest Premiere | National Geographic
Presented in English and Spanish with English subtitles.
The Space Race uncovers the little-known stories of the first Black pilots, engineers, and scientists to become astronauts. Simultaneously championed and exploited as political pawns, some made it to space, while others were erased from history. For the first time, The Space Race puts their lived experiences back into the space exploration narrative and uncovers what it means for the next generation of Black astronauts.
Tell Them You Love Me
Directed by Nick August-Perna
102 minutes | USA | West Coast Premiere | Kino Lorber
Tell Them You Love Me explores the extraordinary story of Anna Stubblefield, an esteemed university professor who becomes embroiled in a controversial affair with Derrick Johnson, a non-verbal man with cerebral palsy. Anna claims to have unlocked Derrick’s mind from his disabled body by helping him to communicate using a keyboard. But when Derrick’s family begin to question his miraculous transformation, and Anna’s intentions, it would lead to a criminal trial that would challenge our perceptions of disability and the nature of consent. Through exclusive footage and interviews with those on both sides of the case, this feature documentary weaves a riveting and endlessly nuanced story about communication, race, and sex.
Directed by Jason Yu
94 minutes | South Korea | Northwest Premiere | Magnolia
Presented in Korean with English subtitles.
Hyun-su and Soo-jin are newlyweds. Seemingly out of nowhere, he starts talking in his sleep, “Someone’s inside.” From that night on, whenever he falls asleep, he transforms into someone else with no recollection of what happened the night before. Soo-jin is overwhelmed with anxiety that he’d hurt her family while she sleeps and can barely sleep a wink because of this rational fear. Despite sleep treatment, Hyun-su’s sleepwalking only intensifies, and she begins to feel that her unborn child may be in danger.
NARRATIVE FEATURES SPOTLIGHT:
Anatomy of a Fall
152 minutes | France | Oregon Premiere | NEON
Presented in French, English, and German with English subtitles.
For the past year, Sandra, her husband Samuel, and their eleven-year-old son Daniel have lived a secluded life in a remote town in the French Alps. When Samuel is found dead in the snow below their chalet, the police question whether he was murdered or committed suicide. Samuel’s suspicious death is presumed murder, and Sandra becomes the main suspect. What follows is not just an investigation into the circumstances of Samuel’s death but an unsettling psychological journey into the depths of Sandra and Samuel’s conflicted relationship.
Directed by Justin Chon
93 minutes | USA | Oregon Premiere
Presented in English and Indonesian with English subtitles.
A father-son relationship is put to the test when an up-and-coming rapper at the crossroads of his career decides to let go of his manager, who is also his father. This decision forces them to confront the past and figure out what they want of each other.
Directed by Koji Fukada
124 minutes | Japan, France | Oregon Premiere | Oscilloscope Laboratories
Presented in Japanese, Korean, and Sign Language with English subtitles.
Taeko and her husband Jiro are living a peaceful existence with her young son Keita, when a tragic accident brings the boy’s long-lost father, Park, back into her life. To cope with her pain and guilt, Taeko throws herself into helping Park, who is deaf and currently homeless. With nuanced performances and craftsmanship, Love Life is a melodramatic and moving meditation on grief and acceptance.
Directed by Todd Haynes
117 minutes | USA | Northwest Premiere | Netflix | CLOSING NIGHT FILM
Twenty years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation, a married couple buckles under the pressure when an actress arrives to do research for a film about their past.
The Pod Generation
Directed by Sophie Barthes
110 minutes | France, Belgium, UK | Central Oregon Premiere | Vertical Ent. & Roadside Attractions
Set in the very near future world where AI is all the rage and technology has trumped nature in nearly every aspect of life, The Pod Generation follows Rachel and Alvy, a New York couple who are ready to start a family. As a rising tech company executive, Rachel lands a coveted spot at the Womb Center, which offers couples the opportunity to share pregnancy on a more equal footing by way of mobile, artificial wombs, or pods. Alvy, a botanist and devoted purist about the natural environment, has doubts, but his love for Rachel prompts him to take a leap of faith. And so, begins the wild ride on their tech-paved path to parenthood.
The Taste of Things
Directed by Anh Hung Tran
145 minutes | France | West Coast Premiere | IFC Films
Presented in French with English subtitles.
Set in France in 1889, the film follows the life of Dodin Bouffant as a chef living with his personal cook and lover Eugénie. They share a long history of gastronomy and love but Eugénie refuses to marry Dodin, so the food lover decides to do something he has never done before: cook for her.