“Something strange is coming to North Bend,” so the Festival tagline goes. And it’s right about the excellent independent offerings available here. The grouping ranges from hilarious comedy to existential horror, sometimes all at the same time. The scope includes people getting lost in the woods and pubescent women fighting a tampon monster called anti-flow. There’s something for everyone here then. Take a look at the bright future of film on display here.
Allen Anders: Live at the Comedy Castle – Circa 1987 directed by Laura Moss
Comedy is, in its barest essence, a tortured form of poetry. Existential dread and anti-comedy are often the material for the finest jokes. Meet Allen Anders, a fictional comedian who throws dark. His bit unfolds in three pieces, as he marches off stage, comes back, goes off, and comes back for the expected finishing line. The set revolves around existential dread and having a case of the Mondays, interjected with uncomfortable close-ups of an audience having a case of the Sundays, being presented with the truth they were looking for at this club where they thought they might escape it. There is no escape, and the jittery replication of a late ‘80s set feels right at home if you’ve spent any time studying that era of comedy. The truth about comedians is they’re the people who most need to be taken seriously, and the humor is such that you might listen.
End Times directed by Bobby Miller
This man’s having a hell of a day. He went urn shopping for the remains of his father and now he’s found a dying squirrel in the park and is having a breakdown about whether to put it out of its misery. A group of onlookers standby as he wrestles with the moral dilemma and should he cover up the squirrel with the discount Teddy bear urn’s I Love You shirt and kill it with a rock or not? “When I lived in the city, I’d kill rats all the time—just put a bag over their head and smash with a hammer—you can’t even see them getting smushed, but this guy’s beautiful.”
Lovely Legs directed by Abby Thompson
I love this creative short. It’s about a man who takes his sex robot to the woods for disposal and gets more than he bargained for. It’s a nice taut student film that shows a lot of potential. It exudes the charm of the Pacific Northwest and is exactly what we’re looking for at the Twin Peaks themed North Bend Festival. Lovely little project.
Ovum directed by Cidney Hue
Black Mirror in miniature. A woman goes in for a life-changing procedure and is given a technology-enabled view of a manufactured future available to her if she goes through with it. The virtual reality projection channels through some high points in her would-be child’s life, the return of a man who’s just left her life, and an uncomfortable glitch that short circuits her out of the projection. The choice is hers: is she willing to settle for the well-being of her child with a man she does not trust?
Une Forêt directed by Thomas Greffier
Strange things are afoot in the forest. After leaving a party for a threesome, a group is drawn into the looping circular logic at the heart of a great forest. The short film plays on perception and psychology, and is certainly weird enough.
Circle directed by Martin Melnick
A nicely devised short about a couple who’s lost in the woods… and losing it. They’ve been driving in circles forever, followed by an unknown pursuer. Good acting and camerawork around the car do well to sell this short. Circle seems to have a certain depth to reward repeat viewings and is a strong entry in this category, blending elements of horror into a classical Eurydice-esque tale.
BFF Girls directed by Brian Lanano
BFF Girls is a brilliant spark of creativity. It’s about a troop of girls reaching puberty and unlocking unknown superpowers once their development is threatened by blood-thirsty Fabuloso Doom and his anti-flow tampon monster. I love that I get to write that sentence completely straight-faced. BFF Girls is a lovely expression of feminism where women find their own power within their group as they change together. This is hyped up nostalgia to the highest degree, an enthusiastically charged centerpiece for this excellent block of films. “Period? More like an exclamation point!”