[Guest Post by Snoqualmie Resident Susan Burk]
After no events in 2020 and one hybrid event in 2021, 2022 saw the return of an all-in-person North Bend Film Festival (NBFF).
With a full lineup of features, shorts, and interactive events like Campfire Talk with Writer/Director Mali Elfman, there was something for everyone. The variety of genres from drama, comedy, horror, foreign language, documentary, thrillers, LGBTQ+ and narrative features was also appealing.
The opening night film I Love My Dad, starring comedian/actor Patton Oswalt, was dramatic with a few moments of hilarity. Based on events in the life of writer, director and co-star James Morosini, it tells the story of a troubled young man who decides to end his troubled relationship with his well-meaning but uncaring father.
He blocks his father on social media, who, in a state of panic, creates a new social media account under the name Becca and befriends his son. When his son begins to fall in love with Becca, he begins to feel closer to his son than ever, but everything quickly falls apart. If you want to know how it ends, you can catch it in a limited theatrical release, and no doubt it will eventually land on streaming services as well.
My favorite movie, Next Exit, follows the journey of Rose and Teddy, who travel across the country to participate in a controversial program where they will voluntarily end their lives. While the program, led by a scientist who says she has proof of an afterlife, is meant to be a scientific study, Rose and Teddy each have their reasons for wanting to let go.
During their journey, they face their demons, as well as interesting characters, which gives them a new perspective on life. I preferred this film because the characters were related to their struggles and likable. The actors were excellent and believable.
I’m a fan of shorts because you can get so many different flavors in a short time. With three series of shorts, Something Strange, PNW Shorts and Cinema Vista, I’ve experienced it all.
The last film to close out the festival was Please Baby Please, a musical about a couple trying to sort out their sexual identities when faced with a gang they witnessed killing someone. It was very John Watersesque, with a campy vibe, which isn’t a genre I enjoy, so to be honest, I didn’t like that movie very much. When writing about a local event that will hopefully get more attendance, especially from locals, is it okay to say that I didn’t like one of the films shown? Yes it is.
When Jess Byers, who has a long history of working in the film industry on numerous film festivals all over the world, decided to launch a festival in the Pacific Northwest, he wanted it to be somewhere that was a destination. After reading about raising money to replace the projector at the historic theater in North Bend, given the beauty of the area and its connection to the cult hit Twin Peaks, he knew he had a place with big bones. .
North Bend also has the added elements of great walkability, easy parking, and proximity to a major airport. When Jess started organizing the event, he looked to other film festivals to see what was missing.
Jess knows that not every movie will appeal to everyone, and some will push people to the edge of their comfort zone and maybe beyond. That’s why I know it’s normal to say that I didn’t like one of the films shown. My favorite movie, Next Exit, was also his favorite, so I’m sure he’ll forgive me.
NBFF is a non-profit, primarily volunteer-run event, with a diverse staff from both US coasts, Canada, Europe and beyond who have a common passion for the art they love. Those who help choose the films shown from the hundreds considered must be unanimous in their vote for inclusion.
Partnering with local community organizations such as NW Jazz Club and Valley Center Stage is also integral to a successful event. Currently, attendance is approximately 50% local and 50% out-of-town, mostly from Seattle, although some industry people from New York and Los Angeles are also in attendance.
When I asked Jess about her future goals for this annual event, her main goals were to engage more locals and fill the theater for each performance. He would also like to see an expansion to include other arts, for example, a designer market or a street fair.
The NBFF is a unique and entertaining event that we are fortunate to have in our area.
- Best Picture – Amazing But True; directed by Quentin Dupieux
- Best Screenplay – The Civil Dead; directed by Clay Tatum
- Best Performance – Rachel 1:1; Valentina Herszage
Short film winners:
- Best Film – Baby Fever; directed by Hannah Mae Cumming
- Best Director + Performance-Rachels Don’t Run; Joanny Causse & Sera Barbieri
- Best Screenplay – Past Life; Andrew Hansen and Jessica Seay-Klatt
View All North Bend Film Festival Winners here.