NORTH BEND FILM FESTIVAL 2021 PREVIEW & PICKS

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Something strange is coming to North Bend, WA, July 15-18, 2021! I’m thrilled to see North Bend Film Festival back in action this year with a hybrid of virtual and in-person programs. Full passes are just $95, and get you access to both In-Person and Virtual offerings. There’s a ton of great stuff to dive into (see the full lineup here), and I can’t wait to get started! 

Here’s what I’m most looking forward to: 

OPENING NIGHT | IN-PERSON: SWAN SONG (2021), Directed by Todd Stephens
Thursday, July 15 | 7:45pm | North Bend Theatre 

Legendary actor Udo Kier stars as retired hairdresser Pat Pitsenbarger, who escapes the confines of his small-town Sandusky, Ohio nursing home after learning of his former client’s dying wish for him to style her final hairdo. Soon, Pat embarks on an odyssey to confront the ghosts of his past — and collect the beauty supplies necessary for the job. SWAN SONG is a comical and bittersweet journey about rediscovering one’s sparkle, and looking gorgeous while doing so.

This one’s a little outside I Love Splatter’s usual coverage (but not really because …. *ahem* ALL HORROR IS QUEER). Anyway! Udo Kier is the absolute best and the trailer looks amazing and I definitely wanna catch this one. 


IN-PERSON: 20th Anniversary Celebration of DONNIE DARKO 
Saturday, July 17 | 2:55pm | North Bend Theatre 
Plus virtual conversation with Writer/Director Richard Kelly, moderated by April Wolfe

(LOL at this trailer being from the 15th Anniversary!)

In a funny, moving and distinctly mind-bending journey through suburban America, one extraordinary but disenchanted teenager is about to take Time’s Arrow for a ride. After surviving a freak accident, Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) begins to explore what it means to be alive, and in short order to be in love, he uncovers secrets of the universe that give him a tempting power to alter time and destiny.

Listen, I haven’t been to a movie theater since before the pandemic started. Even though I’m fully vaccinated, I just haven’t been able to pull that particular thread yet. BUT! If there’s one thing that’ll convince me to sit in those seats again with complete strangers, it’s THIS. I saw DONNIE DARKO here in Seattle at SIFF many, many years ago with Kelly and Drew Barrymore in attendance for the post-film Q&A and it was fucking transcendent. Fell in love with the film immediately, bought it as soon as it came out, and watched it approximately 100x. Also, HELLO! This celebration includes a special virtual conversation with Richard Kelly and screenwriter April Wolfe – one of my idols! So if you love this film, or you’ve never seen this film (WHAT WHAT WHAT), you gotta do this thing. And if you can’t decide whether or not to attend in person, that’s okay! Since the conversation will be available virtually, and you can rent DD from a variety of places, you can do it that way — or just buy the Arrow restoration on 4K. IT IS BEAUTIFUL. 


IN PERSON: TAILGATE (2019), Directed by Lodewijk Crijns
Saturday, July 17 | 9:10pm | North Bend Theatre 
Also available to stream virtually

Hans is driving across the country with his wife and two daughters by his side. His ego gets the better of him when he gets into an argument with another driver. The van driver turns out to be the wrong man to cross on the road, and sets out to teach Hans a deadly lesson. Skillfully pushing the buttons of Hans’s arrogance, a simple family road trip turns into a deadly obstacle course in this nerve-wracking, blackly comic morality tale thriller.

This trailer SPEAKS TO ME! TBH, I worry about road rage all the time so I’m curious to see how this plays out. Also love that the trailer is essentially just impressions – and screams. LOTS OF SCREAMS.


IN PERSON: SUPERIOR (2021), Directed by Erin Vassilopoulos
Sunday, July 18 | 1pm | North Bend Theatre
Also available to stream virtually

Running from an abusive partner, Marian finds refuge in the home of her twin Vivian who she hasn’t seen in six years. Now a housewife in their suburban hometown, Vivian has very little in common with her wild child musician sister Marian. To better understand each other’s life choices the twins begin to impersonate one another, mirroring their clothes and hair style. This experiment soon turns disastrous when Marian’s past catches up with her. Erin Vassilopoulos’ retro-inspired thriller (and longform expansion of her 2015 short) features fascinating lead performances from real-life twins Alessandra and Ani Mesa and offers strong Twin Peaks energy.

I am into EVERYTHING about this! Vintage vibes, shot on 16mm film – I mean, it looks fantastic! Arty and moody and written and directed by women. BRING IT ON. 


CLOSING NIGHT | IN-PERSON: THE BLAZING WORLD (2021), Directed by Carlson Young
Sunday, July 18 | 6pm | North Bend Theatre

Margaret and her twin sister Elizabeth spend their days playing in the luscious property where they live with their dysfunctional parents (Dermot Mulroney and Vinessa Shaw), until a mysterious incident causes the tragic accidental drowning of Elizabeth. Decades later, a self-destructive Margaret returns to her family home in the hopes of finding her sister still alive in an alternate reality. Loosely inspired by Margaret Cavendish’s 1666 work of the same name, a precursor of science-fiction literature, Carlson Young’s feature debut paints a dream-like world with dazzling arthouse visuals filled with neon lights and kitsch décor, completed with a chilling special appearance by Udo Kier.

More twins! And MORE UDO KIER! It’s a thing this year. Anyway, this looks like a Jodorowsky-inspired nightmare and OMG THAT IMAGERY! If I make it out to NB, I will definitely be parked in a theater seat for this one. Gorgeous.


SHORTS PROGRAMS 

There are several shorts packages screening available virtually, plus I’m planning to dive into more shorts than usual, because the offerings look AMAZING. 

IN PERSON | Home Transmissions: PNW Shorts
Sunday, July 18 |  4pm | North Bend Theatre 

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

VIRTUAL 

Something Strange
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)

Cinema Vista
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)

Ethereal Fantasies
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)

There are also some cool companion immersive events, like the Strange North Bend Walking Tour (count me in for all things spooky, and possibly Twin Peaks’sian); I Swing, You Swing: a tongue-in-cheek pregnancy mystery party (WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? I don’t know, but I’m gonna find out); Marcia Needs Space, a self-led storytelling experience that will take place across North Bend; 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.

I’ll see you in the trees …

1 comments on “NORTH BEND FILM FESTIVAL 2021 PREVIEW & PICKS”

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