21 jurors will award prizes across 10 categories;
20th annual Bend Film Festival unspools Live October 12-15

BEND, OR — SEPTEMBER 29, 2023 — BendFilm today announced their 2023 Bend Film Festival jurors, who will award prizes across 10 categories at a ceremony on the evening of October 14. This year’s 22 competition features and 68 competition shorts were selected from a record number of submissions from over 50 countries. The 21 jurors include film festival industry professionals and filmmakers alongside journalists, talent representatives and distribution executives. Many jurors will also appear on the Festival’s program of offscreen panels, to be announced shortly.

“We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary with a jury composed of some of the most curious and creative people we know,” said Selin Sevinç, BendFilm’s Programming Director. “Their varied professional backgrounds and artistic contributions will support a rigorous deliberation process and I can’t wait to hear their citations at our awards show.”

The Indigenous section jury includes Ryan RedCorn, who joins Cara Jade Myers as a 2023 Indigenous Honoree. BendFilm’s Indigenous Programming Advisor, LaRonn Katchia, said, “Cara and Ryan are both forces to be reckoned with, they are both extremely multi-faceted when it comes to their skills and contributions to native cinema and beyond, torch bearers if you will. Cara is not only a talented actress but an incredible writer and producer. If she is not acting she is writing her next feature film or producing her next show. When not writing for Reservation Dogs, Ryan runs his own production company Buffalo Nickel Creative in Pawhuska, OK and is one of the most prestigious photographers in Native country and beyond. We are excited to have them at the festival this year and to hear from their distinguished perspectives.”

New this year, the Spotlight category – films that have premiered at other festivals throughout the year – will compete for a trophy and laurels. BendFilm’s awards program continues its filmmaker-focused efforts; juries and audiences will award over $13,000 in prizes directly to independent filmmakers in Feature competition categories (including $2,500 for Best Narrative Feature and $2,500 for Best Documentary Feature), and over $3,500 in Shorts categories. Passes, which offer various levels of advance and exclusive access and benefits, are on sale now. Individual film tickets went on sale to the public on September 22.

The 2023 Bend Film Festival’s previously-announced slates of Competition Features, Short Films, Local Focus films and music videos, and Spotlight features, screening alongside offscreen panels and events such as awards. Nicole Holofcener, named the Festival’s Indie Filmmaker of the Year, will be among the directors in attendance. 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. Interested members of the media may now apply for press accreditation, including interview request consideration.

L to R: Sharon Badal, Ann Murphy, Nekisa Cooper, John Cooper, Nicole Newnham


SPOTLIGHT JURY (New for 2023)

Carlos Aguilar: Originally from Mexico City, Carlos Aguilar is a film critic and journalist based in Los Angeles. Aguilar’s work has appeared in prestigious publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Variety, The New York Times, The Wrap, Indiewire, Vulture, and RogerEbert.com, among others. He is a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) and the National Society of Film Critics (NSFC).

John Cooper: For three decades Cooper was a member of the Sundance Film Festival programming team. In the early years, he moved from a programmer to the Director of Programming before eventually being named director in 2010. From 2010 to 2020 he oversaw all aspects of the annual Sundance Film Festival in addition to expanding ventures to Sundance Film Festival: London, Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong, and the Ignite Program for young adults ages 18-25. Other work includes guest curator and juror at major festivals around the world. From 1995-1998 Cooper also served as director of Outfest, held annually in Los Angeles. In 2020 he was accepted into the Academy of Motion Pictures. Currently, he is the co-host with Tabitha Jackson on the podcast The Film That Blew My Mind.

Ann Murphy: Ann Murphy is an agent in the Motion Picture Production Department at CAA. She represents line producers, cinematographers, costume designers, production designers, and editors, among others. Some of her clients include Emmanuel Lubezki, who she represented during his record-breaking three consecutive Academy Award wins in the Best Cinematography category. She also represents cinematographer James Laxton and editor Joi McMillon, well known for their ongoing collaboration with Barry Jenkins. Additional clients include cinematographer Jarin Blaschke (The Witch, The Lighthouse, The Northman), production designer Fiona Crombie ( The Favourite, Cruella), and editor Yorgos Mavropsaridis (The Lobster, The Favourite).



Carlos Aguilar: Originally from Mexico City, Carlos Aguilar is a film critic and journalist based in Los Angeles. Aguilar’s work has appeared in prestigious publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Variety, The New York Times, The Wrap, Indiewire, Vulture, RogerEbert.com, and many others. He is a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) and the National Society of Film Critics (NSFC). 

Rachael Labes: Rachael is the Coordinator of Acquisitions and Productions at IFC Films. She has worked at IFC for over two years, playing an integral role in curating the release slates of IFC Films, RLJ Entertainment, and Shudder. She has coordinated the acquisition of films such as BlackBerry, Happening, Watcher, Corsage, Skinamarink, and Paint. In her spare time, Rachael enjoys writing romance novels (Love Marks on Amazon) and performing in her all-women’s improv team (@notlikeothergirls) in Brooklyn.

Emma Suits: Emma Suits worked at independent movie theaters in Brooklyn while receiving a BA in Cinema Studies from New York University. A keen interest in understanding the current theatrical marketplace led her to the independent film distribution company, NEON, in 2021. At NEON, she is part of the theatrical distribution team known for the planning and release of the Academy Award-winning film Parasite, and nominated films such as Worst Person in the World, Triangle of Sadness, and All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. Emma remains based in New York, where she enjoys the generous selection of the city’s arthouse cinemas.



Nicole Newnham: Nicole Newnham is an Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning documentary director and producer and four-time Sundance alum. She co-directed Crip Camp (2020) with Jim LeBrecht. Crip Camp was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Sundance U.S. Documentary Audience Award. Newnham’s other documentary directing credits include the Emmy-nominated films The Revolutionary Optimists, Sentenced Home, and The Rape of Europa.

Claudia Puig: Claudia Puig is a nationally recognized film journalist. She is the Director of Programming for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and has been a film critic on NPR’s FilmWeek since 2006. She was the lead movie critic at USA Today for 15 years and before that was a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times for 11 years. In 2020 she was Senior Programmer for the AFI Film Festival and won the Excellence in Entertainment Journalism award from the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP). In 2017 she received the Roger Ebert Award for Excellence in Film Criticism from the African American Critics Association (AAFCA). She was featured in the LA Times as one of 14 film critics making media more inclusive and in Indiewire as one of 20 Latin Americans making a difference in American independent film.

Rebecca Yeldham: Rebecca Yeldham is a storyteller, producer, and creative leader. A native of Australia, for the last thirty years Rebecca has been based in the U.S. producing award-winning documentary and feature films such as The Motorcycle Diaries, The Kite Runner, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, and The Gift.  She also serves in leadership roles at Sundance and L.A. Film Festival, production companies such as FilmFour, and more recently oversees content creation for the “edutainment” tech platform, MasterClass. She is passionate about stories that move people and championing projects and initiatives with social and cultural impact.



Miciana Hutcherson: Miciana’s feature script, Nancy’s Girls, led to 2019 and 2021 Sundance Institute Indigenous Program Fellowships. Her second feature, Fancy Dance (co-write), led to a 2021 Sundance Screenwriter’s Fellowship, 2021 SFFilm Rainin Grant, and was featured on the inaugural Indigenous List hosted by The Black List, the 2022 Wscripted Cannes Screenplay List and premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. She was a 2022 Flaherty Fellow and Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellow. She is currently a 2023 Nia Tero Storytelling Fellow. 

LaRonn Katchia: LaRonn Katchia is an award-winning filmmaker and tribal member from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, OR currently pursuing a passionate filmmaking career in Portland, OR. LaRonn grew up on the Warm Springs Reservation and has lived there for 18 years of his life transitioning to the city of Portland for film school. His love and passion for film reside from the influence of the commonly mistreated portrayal of Indigenous peoples in Hollywood films today. LaRonn has recently worked on a behind-the-scenes featurette for the FX hit show Reservation Dogs and helped shoot and edit the first all-Indigenous episode of PBS’s Roadtrip Nation: Native Way Forward in collaboration with Buffalo Nickel Creative. 

Ryan RedCorn: Ryan RedCorn (Osage) was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma into a family of preachers, politicians, and salesmen, which are all the same occupation. He is the “ilonpa” of Raymond and Elizabeth RedCorn, and the object of jealousy from his three younger brothers Jon, Alex, and Studebaker, who between them have four master’s degrees and two PhDs. Ryan, however, took six and half years to get an Art degree in Visual Communications from the University of Kansas. Later, he co-founded the Indigenous comedy troupe, the 1491s, and started a full services ad agency in the middle of nowhere Pawhuska, Oklahoma, called Buffalo Nickel Creative. He enrolled in an MFA in screenwriting program to test his capacity for stress and graduated in the Spring of 2020. He is presently alive, vaccinated and happily striking against tyranny as a member of the WGA.



Sharon Badal: Sharon Badal is Vice President of Programming for the Tribeca Film Festival and has been with the festival since its inception. She is on the faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, recognized as a Distinguished Teacher. She created and teaches the Producing in London, a summer study abroad program. She is the author of Swimming Upstream – A Lifesaving Guide to Short Film Distribution, published by Focal Press. Sharon received her B.F.A. in Film and Television Production and her M.A. in Cinema Studies and Business, both from NYU.

Alexandra Fredricks: Enthusiastic about functioning as a bridge between creators, industry, and audiences — Alexandra Fredricks handles non-theatrical and international sales at Oscilloscope Laboratories, a Brooklyn-based independent film distribution company founded in 2008 by Adam Yauch. Previously, she held the positions of Programming and Operations Senior Manager at Metrograph and Film Screening Operations Manager at the Doha Film Institute (DFI). She has been on screening committees for DOC NYC and the Hamptons International Film Festival, a talent liaison for the New York Film Festival (NYFF), and a service team volunteer at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR).

Amanda Miller: With an emphasis on world-building and characters, Amanda focuses on storytelling that leverages her considerable experience in animation. Her most recent project, Christopher at Sea directed by Tom CJ Brown, world premiered at the Venice Biennale in 2022 and screened in competition at Sundance, SXSW, and Santa Barbara Int’l Film Fest among others in 2023. She produced the inaugural season of HBO Max’s animated shorts anthology Only You which premiered in March of 2023. She developed and produced Devil May Care for Peacock/SyFy and Grandma’s Cats Are Trying to Kill Her for Dreamworks.  Amanda has partnered with some of the world’s largest brands, including Apple, Toyota, Coca-Cola and Supercell. The cinematics she produced for Supercell have been viewed billions of times.



Nekisa Cooper: Nekisa Cooper is the VP Board of Directors for Chicken & Egg Pictures, providing creative and financial support for a community of women and non-binary documentary filmmakers. Formerly, as the VP of Content of the number one e-learning brand, MasterClass, Nekisa oversaw the development, production, and post-building of the industry-disrupting library to over 175 offerings. Nekisa is an award-winning producer, notably of Pariah, an inductee of the Criterion Collection, and the Sundance Channel documentary Eventual Salvation. Before the film industry, Nekisa worked in marketing for Colgate-Palmolive and as a collegiate assistant basketball coach. Nekisa has an MBA from Clark Atlanta University and a BA from William & Mary.

Elisa Levine: Elisa Levine is a Seattle-based filmmaker specializing in exploring hidden subcultures through verité storytelling. Her award-winning documentary, Sweetheart Deal (2022), was hailed by RogerEbert.com as, “one of the most astonishing studies of a real-life predator ever committed to film”, and praised by Film Threat as, “an astounding feat of documentary filmmaking.” Elisa’s work has screened at numerous festivals, including Seattle International Film Festival, Slamdance, and BendFilm, garnering multiple jury and audience awards. She is a fellow of Film Independent, Points North Institute, Sundance Documentary Film Program, and Sundance Edit & Story Lab. Currently, Elisa is working on her first screenplay.

Michael T. Workman: Michael T. Workman is a filmmaker based in San Francisco and Montana. Workman grew up living between a trailer park and a house without wheels in Missoula, Montana. His latest film, Meantime (2022), won the Best Short Film Award at Mountainfilm, Best Short Documentary at BendFilm Festival, and the Vimeo Staff Pick Award at Palm Springs ShortFest. Workman is the Director of Features Programming at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival where he has worked in programming for close to ten years. He is currently a resident filmmaker at SFFILM and teaches documentary production at the University of San Francisco.


Student and NW Shorts Jury

Oscar Arce: Oscar is a Mexican filmmaker of several short fiction and documentary films. His short A Day Without You (2020) was selected in over eight film festivals in different countries. He recently finished his latest film They Came in the summer of 2023. He’s the shorts programmer for the Sonoma International Film Festival and part of the Mexican Short Film Committee for the Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia in Mexico. He’s also a screener for feature documentaries for Sundance Film Festival and short films for SF Film. He is a graduate of UABC in Mexicali, with a degree in audio/visual media.

Shannon Hamblin: Shannon studied at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, worked in television as a writer’s and showrunner’s assistant, and produced several commercials, and two feature films. After writing, directing, and performing her one-woman show she moved behind the lens to write, produce, and direct three short films. On the festival circuit, her short film, Texas 2 Step, won her lead actress Outstanding Performance by an Actor.She was a finalist in The Writers Lab NYC, and created a comic book from her screenplay MutaGenesis, and co-wrote an episode of The X-Files named by Collider to be the third-best episode of all time.

Flynn Slicker: Flynn grew up in Bend, Oregon and studied psychology at OSU-Cascades before she moved to New York City and became Social Media Manager for the film review app and website, Letterboxd. She frequently attends film festivals as a member of the press to write about films and talk to filmmakers on the red carpet and in the traveling Letterboxd studio. Outside of festivals, she interviews filmmakers and actors at premieres and on Zoom, runs the social media for the platform, and is becoming a regular host on the Letterboxd podcast, The Letterboxd Show



Andy Hines: Grammy-nominated director Andy Hines has a versatile portfolio, collaborating with artists spanning from Kanye West and Missy Elliott to Luke Combs and Keith Urban. His range transcends genres, from writing narrative projects like Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” to dynamic performances like Lizzo’s “Tempo” video. Hines has earned multiple MTV VMA Awards and nominations, as well as five Cannes Lions, including a Gold in 2018 for commercials and music videos. Born into a creative family, Hines developed a passion for film and used it to raise socio-environmental awareness. With his work, Hines pushes boundaries and inspires positive change, using film as a tool to unite communities and highlight human connections.