14 Films Received Awards including Liyana which won $5,000 for Best of Show and also won the Audience Award


Bend, Oregon –  BendFilm announced today the 14 films and filmmakers awarded the jury-recognized and the audience-voted prizes at the 2017 BendFilm Festival. Awards were selected by a jury of industry professionals as well as the 8,000 attendees of the BendFilm Festival.


Todd Looby, Director of BendFilm said, “I want to thank everyone who came to contribute to the creative culture of the 14th annual BendFilm Festival. The filmmakers, jurors, panelists, bands, volunteers, technical producers and of course the audiences, everyone added a special mark to an incredible event. I know the conversations sparked by these films will live on well past these 4 days.”

Erik Jambor, Festival Programmer for BendFilm said, “This year’s Festival was one of BendFilm’s funniest, deepest, most adventurous and most heartfelt programs to date. Though the awards could only go to a few, we are honored to have been able to screen and share all 105 with the our festival audience. Through dialogue and sharing stories together we strengthen our sense of community locally and around the world.”


Jurors for the Festival include: Danielle DiGiacomo, Vice President of Acquisitions at The Orchard; Don Lewis, Editor of Hammer to Nail, Erin Maddox, producer (Neptune) and festival programmer; Peter Gilbert, producer/cinematographer (Hoop Dreams, Prefontaine); Ian McCluskey, director (Voyagers without Trace); Amy Nicholson, director (Muskrat Lovely); Selin Sevinc, scriptwriter (MagicOfStory.com); Ted Speaker, producer (Humpday); and Paul Sturtz, Co-Founder/Co-Director of the True/False Festival.


The 2017 BendFilm Festival Jury Award recipients are:








Best of Show ($5,000) – (Presented by Brooks Resources since 2004)


Liyana – directed by Amanda Kopp and Aaron Kopp
Five orphaned children in Swaziland collaborate to tell a breath-takingly beautiful story of perseverance drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character’s journey to rescue her young twin brothers is interwoven with poetic and observational documentary scenes to create a genre-defying celebration of collective storytelling.









Best Director ($500) – (Made possible by Independent WOMEN for Independent Film)

Bomb City – directed by Jamie Brooks

Based on the true story of Brian Deneke, Bomb City is an intense and illuminating crime-drama about the cultural aversion of teenage punks and artists in a conservative Texas town. Their ongoing battle with a rival, more-affluent group of jocks leads to a controversial hate crime that questions the morality of American justice–especially relevant today.

Remark from the Jury:

“While it could have easily won in several categories – with gorgeous cinematography, amazing pacing and wonderful casting – all roads lead to its Director.”








Best Cinematography

Relationtrip – directed by Renée Felice Smith and C.A. Gabriel

At an age when everyone around them is settling down and finding love, Beck and Liam are self-proclaimed loners. After bonding over their mutual disinterest in relationships, they decide to go away together on a ‘friend’ trip. And that’s when things get weird. Really, surreally weird.







Best Narrative Feature ($1,000) – (Made Possible by Jay and Sheila Luber)

Mr. Roosevelt – directed by Noël Wells

After an auspicious death in her family, struggling LA-based comedian Emily Martin (Noel Wells, Master of None and SNL) returns to Austin. There she finds herself in the awkward position of staying with her ex and his new girlfriend until the funeral while trying to close old doors from her past.







Best Documentary Feature ($1,000) – (Made Possible by JL Ward Co. and Business for BendFilm)

Forever ‘B’ – directed by Skye Borgman

In 1974, in the quiet town of Pocatello, Idaho, 12-year-old Jan Broberg was kidnapped by her family’s best friend and neighbor. 18 months later, out on bail and awaiting trial for kidnapping, Robert Berchtold abducted Jan a second time, triggering a nationwide FBI manhunt.








Special Documentary Jury Award for Most Lovable Character

Big Sonia – Directed by Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday

When Sonia Warshawski (90) is served an eviction noticefor her iconic tailor shop (in a dead Seattle mall), she’s confronted with an agonizing decision: either open up a new shop or retire. For a woman who admits she stays busy “to keep the dark parts away,” facing retirement dredges up fears she’d long forgot she had, and her horrific past resurfaces.

Special Short Film Jury Award

A Shepherd – directed by Vern Moen

A young shepherd in Oregon’s Willamette Valley struggles with the life and death circle of his ancient job in a modern era.

Remarks from the Jury:

“For its ability to reveal the hardships and beauty of a way of life through a meaningful and heartfelt portrait, we would like to present a Special Jury Award to A Shepherd by Vern Moen.”

Special Short Film Jury Award

Homegrown – directed by Quentin Hamberham

Francis learns that what is right for himself may not be best for his son.




Special Short Film Jury Award

Mixtape Marauders – directed by Peter Edlund

Two young burnouts live in a world of mindless day jobs, petty drug deals, and wildly unconventional musical tastes.









Best Student Short ($500) – (Made possible since 2005 by Dan Wieden and Priscilla Bernard Wieden on behalf of Caldera Arts)

How Far She Went – directed by Ugla Hauksdóttir

Adapted from the Flannery O’Connor Award-winning short story by Mary Hood, How Far She Went takes an unflinching look at family, personal sacrifice, and the lengths we will go for those we love.







Best Documentary Short ($500) – (Made possible by Independent WOMEN for Independent Film)

The Last Honey Hunter – directed by Ben Knight
Maule Dhan Rai is the last man in the remote Nepal village of Saadi who has been visited in a dream by a spirit called Rongkemi. If no one else in the village has the dream, a generations-old tradition may die.








Best Animated Short ($500) – (Made possible by Independent WOMEN for Independent Film)

Pittari – directed by Patrick Smith
A horned creature’s destructive rampage is halted by a stubborn adversary.

Remarks from the Jury:

“For its creatively rich depiction of a unique character, the Best Animated Short Film award goes to Pittari by Patrick Smith.”







Best Narrative Short ($500) – (Made possible by Independent WOMEN for Independent Film)

Emergency – directed by Carey Williams

Faced with an emergency, a group of young Black and Latino friends carefully weigh the pros and cons of calling the police.

Remarks from the Jury:

“For its ability to portray a powerful conflict through a tense, comic and cinematically flawless narrative, the Best Narrative Short Film award goes to Emergency directed by Carey Williams.”







Best of the Northwest Short ($500) – (Made possible by Business for BendFilm)

Running Eagle – directed by Konrad Tho Fiedler
An American Indian girl escapes from captivity in the oil fields of North Dakota and hitchhikes back to her home in Blackfeet country, Montana.







The 2017 BendFilm Katie Merritt Audience Award winner is:

Liyana – directed by Amanda Kopp and Aaron Kopp
Five orphaned children in Swaziland collaborate to tell a breath-takingly beautiful story of perseverance drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character’s journey to rescue her young twin brothers is interwoven with poetic and observational documentary scenes to create a genre-defying celebration of collective storytelling.




The Bend Film Festival is supported in part by a grant from the Bend Cultural Tourism Fund, Oregon Arts Commission, the Roundhouse Foundation, and the Oregon Cultural Trust


About BendFilm:
BendFilm hosts an annual independent film festival as well as year-round film exhibitions and programs. The organization is designed to support and nourish filmmakers and enrich the cultural life of Central Oregon while also providing an economic benefit to the region. Celebrating its 14th year, BendFilm is proud to bring diverse voices and visions to the Bend community. The BendFilm Festival runs every October in downtown Bend, Oregon, at The Oxford, McMenamins – Old St. Francis, Regal Cinemas, Tin Pan Theater, The Volcanic Theater, The Old Stone Performing Arts Center and the historic Tower Theatre. Make plans now to attend October 12-15, 2017, for four days of inspiring independent cinema, panels and parties, in beautiful Bend, a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, beer lovers and stunning natural scenery. BendFilm is made possible by a dedicated crew of volunteers and generous sponsors. For more information, call (541) 388-3378 or visit bendfilm1dev.wpengine.com. Connect with BendFilm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.