While hope is on the horizon for the end of the pandemic, it’s still wise to be cautious. But being cautious doesn’t mean we have to give up all of life’s pleasures, including film festivals. With that in mind, North Bend Film Fest is returning this year with a hybrid edition. And it’s a doozy of an edition, with films and other events for those in the North Bend community and the Pacific Northwest area.
With a special screening and talk for the 20th anniversary of Donnie Darko, opening with a film starring the legendary Udo Kier, the launch of a new award with recipient Jane Schoenbrun and their extraordinary film We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, the new Sion Sono and much more the feature film lineup is packed. There’s also a few dozen short films (always a great bet to catch work by up and coming filmmakers).
There’s also a pletheora of other events: a talk with Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly with April Wolfe, who will also feature on a special edition of the Certified Forgotten podcast. A 70s mystery game centred around swingers is also an eclectic inclusion, as well as the celebrated Strange Storyteller Hour, plus much more.
To say this year’s festival is stacked would be an understatement, and I envy those in the area who are able to attend either in person or virtually. Full details are in the press release below and on the North Bend Film Fest website.
The North Bend Film Festival returns this summer with a hybrid festival taking place July 15-18, 2021. The in-person portion of the fest returns audience members to the historic art deco North Bend Theatre for a curated offering of feature film and short screenings, while both the virtual and physical programs will be complemented by special events, conversations with filmmakers, and immersive experiences. The majority of titles will be exclusive either to physical or virtual programs, with only a few overlaps making for a unique festival experience however you choose to attend.
This year’s festival will open with the in-person screening of Swan Song, Todd Stephen’s ode to being singular in a world that pushes individuality to the side. Its endearing main character, Pat, is flawlessly embodied by screen legend Udo Kier. Closing the festival’s physical program is Carlson Young’s debut feature The Blazing World. A visually stunning, Neil Gaiman-esque dream that stars the director alongside Kier in another scene-stealing performance.
Few films so perfectly encapsulate the distinct flavor of the North Bend Film Festival like Richard Kelly’s trailblazing and pivotal cult feature Donnie Darko, and for its 20th Anniversary NBFF will host a conversation with the visionary director, moderated by highly regarded screenwriter April Wolfe. The festival will also present the film in its original version for a special in-person screening.
New to the festival this year is the introduction of the Dulac Vanguard Filmmaker Award. Named after French filmmaker, film theorist, and activist Germaine Dulac, her 1928 film The Seashell and the Clergyman is regarded as the defining first film of the surrealist movement. The award will honor an extraordinary achievement in groundbreaking filmmaking with a director’s first or sophomore feature. This year’s recipient is Jane Schoenbrun for their debut narrative feature We’re All Going to the World’s Fair. “World’s Fair is a beautifully haunting work that captures with surreal relevance the dual sadness and hope of life lived through a screen,” says Senior Programmer Joseph Hernandez. “We’re so excited to see Jane carry this torch and it’s our great pleasure to honor them with the first annual Dulac.”
Continuing the festival’s mission to present groundbreaking immersive events, this year will feature a tongue-in-cheek pregnancy mystery party with I Swing, You Swing, a self-led storytelling experience that will take place across North Bend with Marcia Needs Space, and the in-person return of fest favorite Strange Storytelling Hour, which will be recorded in front of a live audience and offered online for virtual viewing after.
Bolstering the virtual program are a duo of sports documentaries celebrating the female spirit and sheer athletic dominance in The Witches of the Orient and Luchadoras; a mad ode to casting and the filmmaking process with the latest from Sion Sono, Red Post on Escher Street; the outrageous and heartfelt SXSW audience award winner Ninjababy; and much more.
North Bend Film Fest virtual programming is geo-restricted to the Pacific Northwest with two types of festival passes currently on sale: a 10 feature or shorts program package for $95 for the public (geo-blocked to Washington, Oregon, and Idaho) and a 12 feature or shorts program package for Industry Members (geo-blocked to the U.S.) also priced at $95. All panels and podcast programming will be free to pass holders with a limited amount of tickets going on sale for virtual events. Individual ticket options also include a $3 discount for locals attending in-person screenings. All in-person screenings will be held in strict accordance with state and federal guidelines regarding safety through the ongoing COVID pandemic.
OPENING NIGHT FILM
United States | 2021 | 105 Min. | Dir. Todd Stephens | In-Person
A former hairdresser (Udo Kier, Bacurau) escapes his nursing home to style the hair of a recently deceased old friend for her funeral. His passion-fueled odyssey guides him to surprising revelations about a past event that has filled his later years with resentment. A Magnolia Pictures Release.
CENTERPIECE FILM (DULAC AWARD WINNER)
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
United States | 2021 | 86 Min. | Dir. Jane Schoenbrun | In-Person
From the nest of her black-lit bedroom, Casey decides to embark on the World’s Fair challenge; a game that threatens to manifest mysterious change in its participants. Jane Schoenbrun’s narrative debut causes the line between dream and reality to waver in this coming-of-age exploration of identity. A Utopia Release.
United States | 2021 | 95 Min. | Dir. Dash Shaw | In-Person
Cryptozoologist Lauren Grey (Lake Bell, In a World…) dreams of the Baku at night—a legendary creature that eats nightmares. As she navigates the underworld of illegal cryptid trades and government schemes in the hunt for the Baku, the future of the Cryptozoo hangs in the balance. A Magnolia Pictures Release.
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
The Blazing World
United States | 2021 | 101 Min. | Dir. Carlson Young | In-Person
Decades after the tragic accidental drowning of her twin sister, Margaret returns to her family home in the hopes of finding her still alive in an alternate reality. Loosely inspired by Margaret Cavendish’s 1666 work of the same name, Carlson Young’s feature debut paints a dream-like world with dazzling arthouse visuals, completed with a chilling performance by Udo Kier.
Donnie Darko (20th Anniversary Remastered Version presented by Arrow Video)
United States | 2001 | 113 Min. | Dir. Richard Kelly | In-Person
After narrowly escaping a bizarre accident, a troubled teenager (Jake Gyllenhaal) is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who tells him the world is going to end in 28 days 06 hours 42 minutes and 12 seconds. Before Stranger Things combined science-fiction, Spielbergian touches, and ‘80s nostalgia to much acclaim, Richard Kelly set the high-water mark with this debut feature. Restoration courtesy of Arrow Films and the American Genre Film Archive.
United States | 2021 | 84 Min. | Dir. Floyd Russ | Hybrid
Actress and singer Ayar finds herself without work in midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and decides to reconnect with the estranged daughter she entrusted to her mother while pursuing her career many years ago. This somewhat predictable narrative morphs into a daring and unapologetic study on the creative process weaving through the tapestry of reality itself.
Code Name: Nagasaki
Norway | 2021 | 70 Min. | Dir. Fredrik S. Hana | Virtual
When he was only five, Marius’ mother unexpectedly left his family to return to Japan and broke off all contact. Now twenty years later, he and his best friend Fredrik document their soulful search for her with vignettes ranging from samurai to noir and every genre in-between.
Mexico | 2021 | 93 Min. | Dir. Paola Calvo, Patrick Jasim | Virtual
A trio of female wrestlers grapple with life in Ciudad Juarez, inside and outside of the ring. The courage they exude in their personal lives is paralleled in the theater of wrestling, as they adopt personas that unmask feminist agency in a world dominated by machismo.
Norway | 2021 | 103 Min. | Dir. Yngvild Sve Flikke | Virtual
Rakel, a 23-year-old cartoonist, randomly finds out she is six months pregnant. She has many other plans than being a mother and the future father, “Dick Jesus”, is even less prepared. Yngvild Sve Flikke’s film is a raucous pregnancy comedy, with a great balance of humor and emotional depth, and an animated fetus in a bandit mask.
Potato Dreams of America
United States | 2021 | 95 Min. | Dir. Wes Hurley | In-Person
Potato and his mail-order bride mother spend their days obsessing about American films and using their vivid imagination to dream of a better life outside of the Soviet Union. After several letters are exchanged with a man in America (Dan Lauria, The Wonder Years), they both venture out in search of a new life across the Atlantic.
Red Post on Escher Street
Japan | 2021 | 148 Min. | Dir. Sion Sono | Virtual
For the chance to work with popular director Kobayashi, a wave of local aspiring actors send in their resumes through the same red post box on Escher Street. When the production is pushed last minute to cast famous talent, the actors discover another way they can have their time on camera—as extras. An absolutely wild film shoot ensues.
South Korea | 2020 | 99 Min. | Dir. Jo Bareun | Virtual
Yeon-hee’s dream is to be an action movie star. When she gets an audition for a major role, she’s cast as a stunt double because of her sword-fighting skills. Upon arrival on set, she is mysteriously transported to another reality—a village under attack and desperate for a heroine. But the danger is very real here and it’s going to take a lot more than acting for Yeon-hee to survive stepping into her dream role.
United States | 2021 | 97 Min. | Dir. Erin Vassilopoulos | Hybrid
Running from an abusive partner, Marian finds refuge in the home of her polar opposite twin Vivian. To better understand each other’s life choices the twins experiment with impersonating one another, to disastrous results when Marian’s past catches up with her.
Netherlands, Belgium | 2019 | 86 Min. | Dir. Lodewijk Crijns| Hybrid
With his wife and kids in the car, a hot-headed father gets involved in a nasty retaliatory bout of road rage with a van. Karma is unforgiving as the other driver is revealed to be a maniacal killer who relentlessly tracks them donning a hazmat suit and a pressurized poison spray. A Film Movement release.
Chile | 2021 | 100 Min. | Dir. Leonardo Medel | Virtual
Veronica (Mariana Di Girólamo, Ema), a soccer wife-turned social media influencer on the cusp of a major brand deal has a problem—her follower count isn’t high enough. When a prosecutor starts investigating the mysterious death of her first daughter, the darkness behind her picture-perfect persona may be exposed to the public.
The Witches of the Orient
France | 2021 | 100 Min. | Dir. Julien Faraut | Virtual
In one of the greatest feats in all of sports history, a Japanese women’s volleyball team won a record 258 consecutive matches and captured Olympic gold. With astonishing archival footage, anime sequences, and electronic music, director Julien Faraut shows how these extraordinary women dominated their sport and rose to international stardom.
Home Transmissions: PNW Shorts
The deeply personal, fanatical, and horrific collide in this buffet of style and form all cooked up by Pacific Northwest filmmakers.
Skinner 1929, dir. Aaron Blanton, Goitre, dir. Anna Weltner, Pool Service Announcement, dir. Dean Dickinson, Zombie Walk, dir. Rollyn Stafford, The Body of Levi, dir. Freddy Cheung, The Altruist, dir. Matt Smith
Stories of the peculiar and outlandish sort are what Something Strange is all about.
The Nipple Whisperer, dir. Jan Van Dyck (Belgium), You Wouldn’t Understand, dir. Trish Harnetiaux (USA), Grab Them, dir. Morgane Dziurla-Petit (Sweden), Mustachio, dir. Victoria Warmerdam (Netherlands), Picnic Pals in Dreamland, dir. David Ferino (USA), Swimmer, dir. Jonatan Etzler (Sweden), Today, dir. Andrew Jaksch (Australia)
Across the genres, bold and unafraid, Cinema Vista will prove once again that our imagination has no limit.
Sudden Light, dir. Sophie Littman (UK), Solution for Sadness, dir. Marc Martinez Jordán, Tuixén Benet Cosculluela (Spain), Trade Center, dir. Adam B Baran (USA), Flex, dir. Josefin Malmén & David Strindberg (Sweden), Pleasant Valley Drive In, dir. Brian Zahm (USA), The Expected, dir. Carolina Sandvik (Sweden), Kia Summer Sales Event, dir. Brendan Walter (USA), Lips, dir. Nicole Tegelaar (Netherlands)
Beyond the Void
What lies beyond our experience and our psyche? Six short films explore the mystic transition to another world or to another self.
Stuffed, dir. Theo Rhys (UK), Still Together, dir. Christopher Piazza (USA), Goitre, dir. Anna Weltner (USA), Lucid, dir. Deanna Milligan (Canada), The Isolated, dir. Jason Giampietro (USA), Algorithm, dir. Edwina Casey (Ireland)
In this selection of eight short films, time and reality melt into a cocktail of transformative stories.
Cracks, dir. Andrea Cazzaniga (Germany), The Cocktail Party, dir. Jessica Sanders (USA),
Atrophy, dir. Nick Hartanto, Sam Roden (USA), A Tale Best Forgotten, dir. Tomas Stark (Sweden), Young Forever, dir. Stevie Szerlip (USA), Golem, dir. Ryan Cauchi (Australia), Bird Lady, dir. Susie Jones (UK), Skinner 1929, dir. Aaron Blanton (USA)
I Swing, You Swing: A Swinging 70s Mystery Game!
Created by Darren Herczeg & Erica Elson
It’s 1976. You’ve been invited to Dr. Darica Darren & Erica’s North Bend Love Lodge for a therapeutic night of swinging. But what you don’t know is that someone got pregnant at the last party, and The Drs. Darica desperately need your help to find out how it all went down! You’ll hop from “The Jacuzzarium” to “The Soft Media Room” to “The Orgone Accumulator”, interacting with as many swingers as you can to try and piece together this paternity puzzle! And you better believe that nothing is a straight line when it comes to this complex conception…
Marcia Needs Space
Created by Allyson Morgan & Kevin Laibson
You’re invited on a self-guided interactive tour of North Bend, hosted by Fred, the Extraterrestrial. Fred will give you a robust understanding of this historic town while simultaneously using the participants as part of his own secret mission: to find a mysterious figure named Marcia.
Part scavenger hunt, part comedy show, entirely ridiculous, go on this adventure and you’ll learn why Marcia Needs Space. All you need is your smartphone and a sense of adventure! This experience is able to be enjoyed both in-person and online
Strange Storytelling Hour
Presented by Northwest Film Forum & Volition Brewing
In this beloved festival event, emerging storytellers recount peculiar tales and bizarre happenings based on their own real-life experiences. This year’s theme: “Strangetown.” Whether you hail from them or simply passed through, many have felt the warmth, mystery, and familiarity of a bizarre small town. Join our storytellers as they share tales and whispers from the hamlets that haunt their memories.
This event will be hosted by Seattle-based storyteller, comedian, and weirdo Emmett Montgomery — NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Seattle Weekly’s Best Comedian 2015, 2017, 2018, and host and curator of the community based “comedy” show Joketellers Union (with Brett Hamil) and the experimental basement/storytelling show The Magic Hat.
This event will be offered to a limited in-person audience and will be available for virtual viewing.
Strange North Bend Walking Tour
Hosted by local artists Bob & Laura Antone
From the Mt Si Cemetery and stories of tragedy to haunted restaurants, crime scenes, and known film locations, Hidden Northwest Tours features the darker side of North Bend Washington. What eventually brought Hollywood to town? Perhaps the town’s real history is much stranger than you know.
PANELS AND DISCUSSIONS
DONNIE DARKO 20th Anniversary Celebration with Richard Kelly
Presented by Arrow Video
Since its release in 2001, Donnie Darko has risen from cult-film status to being widely considered one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time. Propelling the careers of award-winning actors Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, the film also spotlights an early starring role for the great Jena Malone (The Hunger Games, Saved) and the feature debuts of Seth Rogen and Fran Kranz. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of his landmark film, director Richard Kelly will look back on his enigmatic classic that remains a puzzle box for fans to this day. Moderated by April Wolfe (screenwriter of Blumhouse’s Black Christmas and former lead film critic for LA Weekly)
Crafting Immersive Experiences during COVID
Presented by No Proscenium
In this in-depth conversation moderated by No Proscenium’s Noah Nelson, the NBFF2021 immersive creators behind I Swing, You Swing and Marcia Needs Space will explore the existing and residual effects of crafting immersive experiences in modern times.
Reinventing the Reel
Presented by Northwest Film Forum
Over the past year, cinemas have been forced to navigate closures, virtual screenings, and hard choices as they’ve nimbly defined and reinvented their business models to stay afloat. In this candid conversation hosted by Northwest Film Forum’s Artistic Director Rana San, we’ll hear from locally-beloved theater houses about the significance of reopening their brick-and-mortar spaces and the cinema-going experience awaiting audiences and filmmakers as we enter the next phase of our hybrid reality.
Elevating the Story with Animation
Paved by the work of Osamu Tezuka, animation—historically regarded as a medium for younger audiences—gained traction among adult filmmakers as a boundless tool to visually and narratively explore the depths of their imagination. Led by Kirk Thatcher, mad genius behind some of the best Muppets shenanigans, Dash Shaw (Cryptozoo), Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King (The Spine of Night), and Kevin McTurk (The Haunted Swordsman) will discuss their inspiration and what drew them to these mediums.
Up Close with Dulac Vanguard Award Winner Jane Schoenbrun
Presented by In Creative Company
For this special virtual event, NBFF’s first annual Dulac Vanguard Awardee Jane Schoenbrun will discuss their groundbreaking feature We’re All Going to The World’s Fair, the internet culture that inspired her, vanguard filmmaking, and their take on the industry’s climate towards boundary-pushing cinema. Moderated by In Creative Company’s Mara Webster.
Join Matt Donato and Matthew Monagle for a special North Bend edition of Certified Forgotten, the podcast that “rediscovers” horror films of the Rotten Tomatoes era. The Matts are joined by April Wolfe and Katie Walsh—a bit of a Switchblade Sisters reunion—for an even-more-special video episode to discuss the aquatic horror-thriller The Siren (formerly The Rusalka), an overlooked indie darling that once closed the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. Tune in for a conversation that wades into creature-infested waters as the gang analyzes why it was overlooked and how it becomes…well, no longer forgotten!
Dead Beat Film Society
Hosts Emily & Kevin of the DBFS podcast sit with musician Prom Queen to discuss the mysteries of David Lynch’s masterpiece Mulholland Drive (2001).
The Good, The Bad and The What!?
The Good, The Bad, and The What!? Is a weekly podcast in which hosts Ryan Oliver and Chris Thomas discuss through humor and edu-tainment what makes a film “good,” “bad,” or “other” within a certain theme, category, subgenre, filmography, and more! On this special episode for the North Bend Film Festival, the two are going to journey through the late-‘90s/early-2000’s boom of vanguard sci-fi/horror dramas that bend space and time in some way, starting with the 20th Anniversary of Richard Kelly’s 2001 cult hit Donnie Darko, following up with the contentious 2004 Ashton Kutcher vehicle The Butterfly Effect, and finally closing with perhaps one of David Lynch’s most polarizing films, 1997’s Lost Highway.
The Witching Hour
Co-hosted by Perri Nemiroff and Haleigh Foutch, Collider’s horror podcast The Witching Hour digs into all things horror, from the biggest titles at the box office to under-the-radar gems, exclusive interviews, early reviews, deep-dive analysis, and all the need-to-know in genre film from two horror die-hards.
Hosted by Ashley Smith, Washed Away is a true-crime podcast that breathes new life into Washington state’s coldest cases. Host Ashley Smith talks to experts and family members to get the real stories behind unsolved crimes from the Evergreen state. This special episode premiering during the North Bend Film Festival will explore the mysterious unsolved murder of Hazel Drew, whose case served as the inspiration behind David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.