This just in… BendFilm Festival makes MovieMaker Magazine’s annual curated compilation of 50 festivals worthy of filmmaker submissions. We’re honored to be listed alongside all of the great indie festivals on the list — especially our Oregon festival buddies — Ashland Film Festival and Portland International Film Festival.

Every October, the BendFilm Festival gives indie filmmakers a chance to come together to showcase their films over four days of red carpet premieres and make valuable industry connections. Filmmakers rub elbows with indie heroes at renowned breweries and restaurants and especially enjoy our filmmakers’ lounge headquartered in the beautiful downtown Historic At Liberty Arts Collaborative—only steps away from BendFilm Festival screening venues, restaurants, and coffee shops.

A near-constant fixture of MovieMaker magazine’s 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, the 2018 festival screened 116 feature, documentaries and short films, with 51% of features and 42% of shorts directed by women. This year’s 16th Annual Festival runs from Thursday, Oct. 10 – Sunday, Oct. 13, with most venues located in Bend’s historic downtown and the nearby Old Mill District. $10,500 in cash prizes including the $5,000 cash “Best of Show!”

Five Significant Films that Screened at BendFilm Festival in 2018

Leave No Trace. Dir. Debra Granik. Opening Night Film. Writer/Director Debra Granik and Writer/Producer Anne Rosellini were the inaugural recipients of the “IndieWomen of the Year” award in Memory of local entrepreneur and arts supporter, Pamela Hulse Andrews. Debra and Anne attended the festival to present a retrospective of their decades-long collaboration, which included: Stray Dog, Winter’s Bone and Down to the Bone (Best Actress for Vera Farmiga, BendFilm 2004). Debra also moderated the annual “First Features” panel wherein filmmakers who were presenting their first features at the festival have the honor of learning from an established filmmaker like Debra.

Ondi Timoner Retrospective. Director Ondi Timoner has been disrupting the documentary filmmaking medium since her first feature, Dig! won Sundance. Ondi presented her first narrative feature Mapplethorpe, along with Dig! and Join Us.

25th Anniversary of Smoke Signals. Director Chris Eyre and lead actor Adam Beach attended the 15th Annual BendFilm Festival and presented their seminal work, Smoke Signals to Bend, Madras and Warms Springs Reservation audiences. Chris and Adam came early to the festival to host a meet and greet at the Warm Springs Reservation where over 200 people came to meet two of their big screen, Native heroes.

Weekends / Lifeboat. Director, Trevor Jimenez / Director, Skye Fitzgerald. The narrative, animated short, Weekends, is Oscar-nominated for animated short and Lifeboat, a documentary short, is Oscar-nominated for short subject documentary.

Abducted in Plain Sight (Forever “B”). Dir. Skye Borgman. This true crime documentary feature played very few festivals such as BendFilm. This film is currently one of the hottest films on Netflix, receiving rave reviews in Vice and The Atlantic.

The Guilty (Oregon Premiere). Dir. Gustav Moller. Oscar-shortlisted film. When police officer Asger Holm is demoted to desk work, he expects a sleepy beat as an emergency dispatcher. That all changes when he answers a panicked phone call from a kidnapped woman. Asger, confined to the police station, is forced to use others as his eyes and ears as the severity of the crime slowly.

Song of Back and Neck. Dir. Paul Lieberstein (The Office) makes his feature film directing debut with this low-key comedy also starring Rosemarie Dewitt. Paul attended the festival to a great reception and had a fun time on the rented electric bikes and interacting with other filmmakers and Bend-ites.

BendFilm Offers Big-Fest Perks to Filmmakers with Accepted Submissions

BendFilm offers lots of perks for indie filmmakers whose films are accepted to the festival.


BendFilm provides all feature-length filmmakers with free lodging at hotels or vacation rentals–including 10 rooms at the Oxford Hotel–recently named #12 best hotel in the US by Trip Advisor. Oxford guests have access to locally-made Breedlove Guitars, of which Tony Kaye took full advantage to open his panel session in 2014. Classic style custom-made Livingston Bikes are also available to guests.

Most BendFilm venues and events are centered around downtown–allowing filmmakers to easily soak up the town as they walk from one event to the next. We happily assist our shorts filmmakers with lodging at area hotels or with local house hosts and provide transportation for all filmmakers to and from the airport.


The BendFilm transportation team is active throughout the festival to drive filmmakers to screenings, events, and panels. Festival filmmakers enjoy free food and drinks at nine events throughout the festival. And by “drinks” we mean those from one of the 25 (and counting) craft breweries (including now national brands Deschutes and 10 Barrel) located within this ‘beer town’ of roughly 90,000 people.


The BendFilm Festival awards $10,500 in cash prizes including the $5,000 cash “Best of Show!” At the 2018 festival, 8 Narrative Features, 17 Documentary Features, and 70 Shorts participated in competition for the cash prizes.

Numerous Distributors Attend BendFilm Festival Every Year

  • Brandon Harris, Development Executive at Amazon Original Movies served on the Narrative Features Jury and attended the festival. Matt Grady, Founder of distributor Factory 25 and “One of the Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture” served on the Narrative Features Jury.
  • Matt wound up distributing BendFilm-screened films All This Panic, Applesauce, Bloomin Mud Shuffle, and Uncle Kent 2 after previously serving on the Jury.
  • Recently retired Fox Searchlight CFO, Jill Gwen co-hosted an Industry Q&A panel session to provide filmmakers insider information on the distribution process. Jill was a part of Fox Searchlight’s inception, overseeing the acquisition of small indies like The Brothers McMullen through their work on Academy Award-winning films like Birdman, Slumdog Millionaire and 12 Years a Slave.
  • Ann Murphy of ICM Partners co-hosted the Industry Q&A Panel with Jill Gwen. Ann represents James Laxton, Emmanuel Lubezki and many more of today’s hottest cinematographers. Ann helped filmmakers understand the process of obtaining representation and the importance of it.

The BendFilm Festival is designed to foster deep connections among visiting filmmakers and jurors as well as between the filmmakers and the audience. The festival’s casual, laid back vibe makes it easier for a first-time filmmaker to hang out with more established veterans at a level that is impossible at bigger fests like Sundance or SXSW. One hundred twenty-two filmmakers came to Bend to enrich screenings, panels and parties. We hope to see you here in October!

Get your film festival passes today to see Shelton screen Bull Durham and revisit some of his classic films at this year’s festival OCT 10-13 in Bend, Oregon