It was the first in-person festival I had attended since before the pandemic, and it was an immense joy to converse with various artists whose work has left an indelible mark on my life. As I sat next to powerhouse producer Liz Cardenas at the awards show, I told her about the unique experience I had years ago at the Chicago Critics Film Festival, when her film , David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story,” played to a packed house that fell completely silent as Rooney Mara ate a pie in a single static shot in five minutes without words. I was also a longtime admirer of my fellow juror, Tallie Medel, for years before their key role in one of 2022’s most beloved films, Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ . Medel stars in the thunderous comedy trio Cocoon Central Dance Team alongside Eleanore Pienta (star of the brilliant ‘See You Next Tuesday’) and Sunita Mani (who sports the iconic hot dog hands in ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’) ). Kwan and Scheinert (aka Daniels) produced the trio’s marvelous forty-minute showcase, “Snowy Bing Bongs Across the North Star Combat Zone,” which is currently streaming on Mubi and should be sought out by all Daniels fans.
Tamara Jenkins, the phenomenal director of ‘Slums of Beverly Hills’ and ‘The Savages,’ was honored as Independent Woman of the Year, joining her husband, Jim Taylor, frequent co-writer of Alexander Payne, for a riveting hour-and-a-half-length panel moderated by BendFilm’s tireless festival programming chief, Selin Sevinc. I told the couple how the endings to “Sideways,” for which Taylor won an Oscar, and Jenkins’ latest triumph, 2018’s “Private Life,” are two of the best I’ve ever seen in the way they refuse to tie up all the details, leaving us with plenty to think about long after the credits roll. Jenkins shared a hilarious quote that explains how you can tell if a movie is working or not: you can “feel it in your ass,” since your sphincter will noticeably tighten whenever you feel something’s wrong. I then had the great privilege of seeing “Private Life” – a film that the vast majority of viewers were able to see only on Netflix – at Bend’s Tower Theater with an engaged audience, and I can honestly say that every moment of that film feels absolutely right, down to that sublime final shot, a masterpiece of nuance that would make Mike Nichols proud. Thank you, BendFilm Festival, for reminding me why films are a shared experience to be enjoyed with as many people as possible.
FULL LIST OF 2022 BENDFILM FESTIVAL JURY WINNERS
Best in Show: “You Look Like Me”, Dina Amer
Best Director: Elisa Levine and Gabriel Miller for “Sweetheart Deal”
Best Narrative Feature: “The Game”, Ana Lazarevic
Best Documentary Feature: “Sam Now”, Reed Harkness
Best Indigenous Feature Film: “Uýra: The Rising Forest”, Juliana Curi
Best Outdoor/Environmental Feature Film: “Au Revoir”, Justin Loiselle and Jonathan Ferguson
Best Cinematography: Bae Jin Baek for “Unidentfied”
Best Editing: Jason Reid and Darren Lund for “Sam Now”
Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Home-Film Directing: “Bad Axe,” David Siev
Special Jury Prize for Narrative Feature Films: Malek Rahbani for his performance in “Jacir”
Best Narrative Short Film: “Enjoy”, Saul Abraham
Best Documentary Short: “Meantime”, Michael T. Workman
Best Animated Short Film: “Ice Cream Merchants”, João Gonzalez
Best North West Short Film: “No Spectators Allowed”, Kanani Koster
Best Indigenous Short: “Daughter of the Sea,” Alexis C. Garcia
Best Outdoor/Environmental Short Film: Monumental Divide, Brian Olliver
Best student short film: “El Carrito”, Zahida Piran
Special Jury Prize for Social Impact: “A Dollar Won’t Hurt”, Christopher Stoudt
Special Jury Prize for Animated Short Film: “Tears of the Seine”, Yanis Belaid, Eliott Benard, Nicolas Mayeur, Etienne Moulin, Hadrien Pinot, Lisa Vicente, Filipino singer, Alice Letailleur
Special Jury Prize for Personal Vision: “Babysitting”, Patrick Noth
To see the full virtual festival lineup, available to stream until Sunday, October 23, click here.