BendFilm Festival begins with an opening night film that will appeal to all adventurous spirits. BendFilm alumnus and Portland-native Ian McCluskey will open our 13th annual festival with his latest documentary, Voyagers Without Trace. Indie film lovers will also be treated to a special performance by Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists.

Voyagers Without Trace

Voyagers Without Trace, the latest feature documentary by McCluskey (Eloquent Nude), tells the story of three French adventurers who, in 1938, were the first to kayak the greatest rivers of the American West. Newlyweds Genevieve and Bernard de Colmont, and their friend Antoine de Seynes, were three dashing young Parisians seeking adventure. The trio traveled from their homes in France, boldly setting out to be the first to kayak the Green and Colorado Rivers.

Director McCluskey appears in the film as he sets off on the dangerous whitewater to search for any remaining traces of this journey. What he finds is more than expected: the original color film documenting their 1938 trip, unseen photos, a diary… and even one of the original kayaks, held in a 16th century fortress in the peaks of the Pyrenees, with an unexpected connection to the French Resistance.

“This new film of adventure and history seems like a perfect fit with the outdoor loving spirit of Bend and I cannot wait to share the film on opening night. It will be a real honor and thrill to pack into the historic Tower Theater for this special showing of the film and a live performance by Jenny Conlee,” said Voyagers Without Trace director, Ian McCluskey who will be in attendance for a Q + A following the opening night screening.

Live Performance by The Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee

Jenny Conlee of the Decemberists and her husband, Steve Drizos, recorded original music for the film’s score and will be on stage prior to the film to play a short set.

Sagebrush Sisters by Michelle Alvarado

The short documentary Sagebrush Sisters will also precede Voyagers Without Trace. The seven-minute short, directed by Wahoo Films’ Michelle Alvarado, follows three intrepid women, from ages 65 to 80, who hike more than 50 miles following a pronghorn migration path across the high desert.  

Opening Night Party

Plan on a fun finish to the evening at the Oxford Hotel’s 10 Below for our Opening Night Reception at 8 p.m. Rest up film lovers, you’re going to want to be ready for a weekend of provocative storytelling.

Stay tuned for additional information about the festival here on the blog, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.