BendFilm Festival Now Recognized by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as an Oscar Qualifying Event
When the 2019 editions of the BendFilm Festival and the Oscars were both named The neighbors window Best short narrative film, a door to the industry has opened. BendFilm’s Festival Programming Manager Selin Sevinc describes the process to become an Oscar-eligible festival as follows:
“When you have such a precedent of successful programming and awards for films that end up winning the Oscar, you can apply to the Academy and say, ‘Hey! I’m good at this! Can I be an eligible film festival? ‘ “
This means that for the 18th year of the BendFilm Festival – an in-person, virtual event that runs through October 17 – its winners for Narrative Short, Animated Short, and Indigenous Short (selected by juries ) are submitted for consideration at the Oscars. It is a prestigious feather in the festival cap since there are only 64 festivals in the world – 27 in the United States – with the same power. This will likely spark more submissions in the years to come, Sevinc predicts. With 75 short films showing for 2021 (as well as 40 feature films and the inaugural showcase of the festival’s music videos), animated films, narratives and documentaries all swirl together in thematic blocks.
“In general, my goal is to get more attention to short films,” says Sevinc, praising these selections as “some of the best” she’s ever seen. “Shorts are where you find the most interesting and inspiring little gems, I think.”
Like every 2021 film festival, BendFilm has questioned its pandemic form, choosing to cut its in-person screenings from four traditional nights to two. These evenings at the Tin Pan Theater have additional significance in Sevinc’s mind, a brief resurrection of the tradition of watching other people watch movies.
“COVID has shown everyone that you really don’t want to watch Netflix for the rest of your life,” Sevinc says. “[The pandemic] taught us: ‘See? Cinema matters.
Including a short or two that could be in the running for the Oscars, here’s the best of what we previewed at the 2021 BendFilm Festival:
No film here illustrates the medium’s ability to experiment while maintaining eye-catching, grounded, and unobtrusive components like Last meal. Australian directors Daniel Principe and Marcus McKenzie present a sort of anti-death penalty poem with lyrics composed mainly of narrated press articles and minutes. But it is in the editing, the collage and the juxtaposition that the societal and spiritual madness of capital punishment shines through: eye for an eye, entry for life, we humans are monsters, and the most monstrous of us are still humans. To be transparent, this was the very first movie Sevinc recommended on his list: “It’s insanely smart and unique and funny and punchy and dramatic and sad all at the same time.” It is all true.
Friday night lights is a narrative sports formula worth repeating if the filmmakers commit to integrating the right rural town and the right totem team. In this case, director Jeff Harasimowicz got it right, portraying the hoop-obsessed Metlakatla Indian community in Southeast Alaska which features a state basketball competitor from a school in 70 students. These young men face the same untenable community pressure as the West Texas quarterbacks, but with the heightened stakes of literal and cultural death all around them. Make no mistake, this is a cargo of high school basketball footage, but Alaskan fillets is a ‘it’s our year’ sports doc in its most serious and engaging form.
The best orchestra in the world
This politely caricatured skewer from the Vienna State Orchestra doubles as a lucid parable on the failure of equity in artistic institutions. Auditioning against a slew of human double bassists, our protagonist (whose identity really shouldn’t be spoiled) meets conductors in increasingly senior positions explaining why, despite a brilliant audition and the values of the organization, they cannot be accepted at this time. In this context, the liveliness of the string concerto is doubly striking. The form may be centuries old, but the musical release speaks of a freedom that somehow doesn’t yet exist.
When i am her
In this short documentary, retired ballet prodigy Michael Cusumano becomes Madame Olga, donning the drag to educate a new generation of dancers through steadfast self-esteem. While the degrading rigors of Cusumano’s adolescence are widely implied, it’s not hard to understand what he lost when art turned into expectation and torment. Sometimes it takes an alter ego to save a childhood.
SEE : The BendFilm Festival is screened online at watch.eventive.org/bendfilm2021. Virtual pass $ 100, in person pass $ 175, all access pass $ 275. $ 5 minimum, pay whatever you want to stream movies and virtual chats.