(Bend, Ore.) Film enthusiasts from all over the country are flocking to Bend. The city is holding its 19th annual film festival, featuring 110 films and hosting more than 100 filmmakers.
The Bendfilm festival, which runs for three 3 weeks, held in-person screenings last weekend at several theaters throughout the area, offering festival goers a chance to sit in with filmmakers to watch their works of art.
Due to the pandemic, this year is the first time in two years the Bendfilm Festival has offered in-person showings, creating a better experience for filmmakers and people attending the festival.
“Zoom is never going to replace real human-to-human connection. As artists, we thrive on how people look into our subject and how we can experience what they feel,” said Elif Koyutürk, a Bend local who directed the documentary short, “Bridging the Gap.”
Felipe Santacruz, local director of the film “Spotlight,” agrees the experience is much different than having the films simply streamed online.
“You see folks that you know from the community or your family or friends, you start to get excited for it,” explained Santacruz. “To go in, sit down and see your work up there and have those live reactions of people, you know, laughing or clapping. It’s just such a wonderful and organic experience that you’re obviously not going to get virtually.”
The film festival is a popular and beloved event for locals and tourists alike. It also allows a chance for local filmmakers to share their informative and captivating stories with a broader audience, bringing awareness to important topics within the community.
Koyutürk’s film, “Bridging the Gap,” is about Think Wild, a woman-run wildlife hospital here in Bend, Oregon. “They save wildlife and people come and volunteer,” she said. “I get captivated by that emotion of togetherness.”
Koyutürk was enthusiastic about being a part of the festival and sharing the message of her film with others. “Bendfilm really made an impact on me because this is my village. This is my people. And this is a community effort. Like, they’re gonna now have more awareness,” she said.
Santacruz’s film “Spotlight” is a collaboration between himself and NeighborImpact, highlighting the work LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and disability communities are participating in, within the area. “Being accepted into the film festival is just wonderful because it feels like all of that work has kind of paid off,” stated Santacruz.
Although the in-person screenings are now over, the festival continues with virtual screenings until Oct. 23.