Earlier this year, we announced Erik Jambor’s return to BendFilm as our Festival Programmer for the 13th Annual BendFilm Festival. In addition to his previous BendFilm role, Erik has run and programmed independent film festivals including his role as cofounder of the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in Birmingham Alabama. Most recently he served as Executive Director of Indie Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee from 2008 through early 2015, where he programmed the annual Indie Memphis Film Festival.

We caught up with Erik as we move ever closer to our 13th Annual BendFilm Festival, October 6-9th. Erik was kind enough to give us perspective on film festival programming and a sneak peek into this year’s festival.

Read on for the interview:

Having participated and planned multiple festivals, what sets BendFilm apart?
The town itself! Bend is such a fun place to visit — and with the festival venues sprinkled throughout downtown, the Old Mill district and Westside Bend, out-of-town attendees can really get a good taste of what Bend is all about. It sometimes seems like almost every city in the country has a film festival, so the ones that can take advantage of the city they’re in are at a huge advantage.
What is energizing you about the indie film and filmmaker community, right now?
Technology has made it easier for more people to make movies, which has allowed so many more voices to be heard and, in turn, has given us so much more content to consider. It is especially exciting to see films by first time filmmakers, which is a focus this year with the launch of our new First Features program. Eight of our ten competition features are directed or co-directed by filmmakers making their directorial debut, not to mention indie filmmaking icon John Sayles who will be here with HIS first feature, RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN from 1979.
What are some of the themes emerging from this year’s festival entries?
We’re seeing a lot of coming of age films, and stories about first love — there are a good number of films with a paranoid / conspiracy angle too. We also have some really exciting outdoor films that we’ll be announcing as part of the documentary competition.
What can the first time BendFilm attendee expect from this year’s festival? 
It is a really fun experience — I like to compare it to a music festival, where your pass let’s you explore the lineup and see what you want to see. The big difference is that the filmmakers are as much a part of the experience as the audience. When you see a film, the filmmaker will usually be there to answer questions — and they’re here for the whole festival, so you will run into them in line for other films — or just waiting in line for coffee.
What do you think will surprise (and delight) long-time festival attendees?
I think long-time festival attendees are going to be really excited about overall tone of this year’s film lineup — we have a number of comedies that I think are going to be huge. Other surprises will have to stay secret for now…

Thanks Erik! We look forward to a great festival, the opportunity to meet new filmmakers and of course, we can’t wait to discover what other surprises are in store for our 13th event!