The North Bend Film Festival revealed the first wave of films and the haunting poster from Pacific Northwest artist Zachary Schomburg, featuring the region’s scenic slopes and ghostly pines, for its inaugural edition in North Bend, Washington, taking place from August 23rd to the 26th.
Best known as the original shooting location for Twin Peaks, the festival will take place in the beautiful historic North Bend Theatre, embracing the classic diner and eerie woods that once gave David Lynch & Mark Frost so much inspiration, just a couple of miles away from the iconic Salish Lodge.
The festival seeks to spotlight innovative means of storytelling, while exploring surrealism as well as highlighting multi-dimensional stories and one-of-a-kind experiences. Introducing a new structure in nonfiction form, Khalik Allah’s sophomore documentary BLACK MOTHER offers us insight into daily life in Jamaica, unfolding like a historical mixtape that immerses the audience in a sensorial journey in space, time and culture. Building from coinciding social constructs, Patrick Cunningham’s debut film MODEL HOME is a surreal, free-wheeling take on the ostracization of the lower middle class. Blurring the line between dreams and reality, Mitzi Peirone’s BRAID feels like a fever dream by way of Sofia Coppola. A classic at first glance and shocking with every twist, Timur Bekmambetov’s PROFILE uses a minimalist visual setting, a computer screen (familiar to Bekmambetov from 2014’s hit Unfriended, which he produced), to tell a larger than life story about an ISIS investigation gone too deep and too far, all based on true events.
North Bend Film Festival’s focus on crossover storytelling includes the not-to-be-missed World Premiere of the immersive and intimate art performance from Ava Lee Scott (Sleep No More), ANNABELLEE, a mixed-media art experience using tarot reading, immersive theater and live-VR to enthrall and enchant. Navigating new ways of telling stories, the festival will also venture into linear virtual reality territory with five unique titles, each one bringing their own approach to molding new narratives.
For its first year, the festival will host a short film program dedicated to exploring the inspiration behind David Lynch’s work as an artist and filmmaker, called “THE EXTRA ORDINARY,” for which Jonathan Marlow of Camera Obscura has curated four influential films that speak to Lynch and his work, ranging from 1966 to 2000.
Profile (West Coast Premiere)
Cyprus, Russian Federation, UK, USA | 2018 | 103 Min | Dir. Timur Bekmambetov
Amy, a struggling freelance journalist looking for her next big story, pitches her editor on investigating the recruitment of European women by ISIS. Pretending to be recently converted to Islam and using an alias, she creates an incriminating Facebook profile where she begins to like and share posts themed around islamic extremism. It doesn’t take long for Bilel, a Jihad fighter in Syria, to set his eyes on this seemingly vulnerable prey.
From the producers of UNFRIENDED, this breathtaking socio-political thriller takes place entirely through the perspective of a computer screen. Director Timur Bekmambetov transcends the format to create a sense of tension and suspense that even Hitchcock would admire. Sometimes we find vanguard filmmaking hidden in the simplest visual aesthetics; something that this sure-to-be iconic catfish thriller achieves tenfold. North Bend is proud to open with such a tour-de-force that pushes the boundaries of filmmaking in a powerfully topical and unique way.
Black Mother (Pacific Northwest Premiere)
USA | 2018 | 77 Min | Dir. Khalik Allah
As BLACK MOTHER begins, like something out a dream, you’re thrust into some of the most intimate areas of Jamaica. What you’re met with volleys from educational to surreal. A large swath of folks ranging from religious leaders to sex workers and wide-eyed children engage with you directly; sonically, deeply introspective narrations from unidentified speakers are constant, with voices and unwieldy visuals sometimes totally out of sync with each other. Breathe easy, though: you’re in the hands of documentarian Khalik Allah, an emerging master of the form.
Equal parts haunting travelogue and tone poem, BLACK MOTHER is a uniquely engrossing look at Jamaican culture and identity that no history book could ever deliver. It’s pure cinema. Inspired by Allah’s mother’s heritage, the director’s remarkable second feature, following his Harlem-focused 2015 debut FIELD NIGGAS and cinematography work for Beyoncé’s LEMONADE, is in a class all its own.
Braid (West Coast Premiere)
USA | 2018 | 82 Min | Dir. Mitzi Peirone
Two fugitive women elude capture and seek refuge at the estate of their rich and very much psychotic childhood friend (an unhinged Madeline Brewer in peak form) where they enter a terror-fueled game of make believe in a bid to rob the woman’s safe. A candy colored and hallucinogen-fueled lunacy binge, writer-director Mitzi Peirone’s feature debut takes you on an entrancing journey of insanity through its gorgeously framed imagery, vibrant palette and cryptic narrative riddles. An absolute visual feast, this tale of nefarious women trapped in a spiraling nightmare, caught between reality and fantasy, deftly balances themes of childhood connection, experience and the inescapable circular nature of life, all from an exciting new voice in genre cinema.
Model Home (World Premiere)
USA | 2018 | 82 Minutes | Dir. Patrick Cunningham
A deserted housing development post-market crash sets the stage for this unique thriller based around “live-in staging,” where developers hire low-income families to decorate and maintain properties to attract potential buyers. For a Latina single mother and her imaginative young son, being allowed to live in a dream house rent free seems too good to be true. As the cruel summer rages on and the mother’s obsessive and unstable mental state emerges, so too does living the American Dream devolve into a waking nightmare. An unusual mix of dark comedy, woman-on-the-edge tropes and a dash of Twin Peaks weirdness, director Patrick Cunningham’s fascinating debut uses a diverse cocktail of genres to tell a tragic and singular vision that speaks to Hispanic American identity.
Experience mystification with “The Extra Ordinary” shorts block; a curation of films that speak to the work of David Lynch
While countless writers have tried distilling David Lynch’s cinema into words, the man himself recently provided the ultimate case study of his structure-shattering, mind-warping brand of storytelling in less than an hour. “Gotta Light,” the incredible eighth episode of last year’s TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN, told a quasi-standalone anti-narrative about the Atomic Age, history’s imprints on the future, and cigarette-puffing hobo demons with apocalyptic intentions. Everything that is film’s greatest enigmatic auteur can be seen in “Gotta Light,” yet nothing is easily deciphered.
Comprised of four short films that either influenced or take cues from Lynch, THE EXTRA ORDINARY is an alternate attempt to execute what “Gotta Light” so brilliantly does: convey the disorientation, intellectual stimulation, and formative experimentation that exemplify the TWIN PEAKS mastermind in one short burst. Provided by Jonathan Marlow of Camera Obscura, with contributions from Canyon Cinema and Zeitgeist Films, these works will mesmerize and perplex in equal measure—just as Mr. Lynch would like it.
ALL MY LIFE (1966)
dir. Bruce Baillie
dir. Matthias Müller
IN ABSENTIA (2000)
dir. Stephen & Timothy Quay
dir. Bruce Conner
Cross dimensions with Annabellee in a World Premiere immersive experience from Sleep No More performer Ava Lee Scott!
In this multi-dimensional experience from the mind of NYC interactive theater veteran Ava Lee Scott (Sleep No More, Serenade), participants are invited to let go of their inhibitions and immerse themselves in a journey filled with magic, discovery and new truths. Once you welcome Annabellee into your world, there is no turning back.
Annabellee is a soothsayer, who during a visit to Snoqualmie Falls, as part of her mission to find the most sacred places of creation, discovered a mystical root. Enchanted by the area and this strange gift from the earth, she has decided to set up camp in a curious cabin outside Snoqualmie.
Legend has it that when a soothsayer arrives and reveals the secrets of the universe, you must make haste, seize the opportunity and track her down.
Taking place throughout the festival weekend, audience members will meet Annabellee in different experiences, both virtually and, for a select, brave few, in person. Participants’ nerves will be tested as they venture deeper into her world. This experience is not for the faint-hearted.
Immersive VR showcase
USA | 2018 | 13 Minutes | Project Creator: Jacob Wasserman, Nicolas Pesce, Adam Donald | Key Collaborators: Hidden Content, RealMotion VFX
After a couple’s car breaks down on the side of the road, they are forced to seek refuge in an ominous hotel manned by an mysterious bellhop. As they explore the dark crevices and secrets of its halls, the girlfriend begins to feel that something is off. As she dives deeper into the darkness, she fears that there is more than just getting their car fixed at stake.
Puerto Rico/USA | 2018 | 13 Minutes | Project Creators: Angel Manuel Soto, Charlotte Stoudt, Laura Wexler | Key Collaborators: Rachel Skidmore, Bryn Mooser, Erik Donley, Ryot Studios
Based on true events, this experience tells the story of Barney and Betty Hill, an interracial couple who in 1961 broke national news as the first reported extraterrestrial abduction in history. Trying to cope with the residual scars of their experience, they unexpectedly decide to seek out answers from an old tape recorder while hosting a dinner party.
MEETING A MONSTER
USA | 2018 | 9 Minutes | Project Creator: Gabriela Arp | Key Collaborators: Oculus VR for Good, Life After Hate
With a past steeped in hatred and prejudice, a former white supremacist journeys back in time and invites us to experience both the stereotypes and bigotry that lured her into the white power movement as well as the encounters that led her back out. Before she can help others change their ways, she must come to terms with a true monster: herself.
MUSEUM OF SYMMETRY
Canada | 2018 | 20 Minutes | Project Creator: Paloma Dawkins | Key Collaborator: Casa Rara Studio, National Film Board of Canada
An absurdist mind-and-body romp through the highest clouds to the ocean deep, Museum of Symmetry is the explosive feel-good alter-universe of cartoonist and animator Paloma Dawkins—a room-scale VR experience with 2D animation in a 3D playground.
USA | 2018 | 15 Minutes | Project Creator: Ava Lee Scott | Key Collaborator: AltspaceVR
In this social VR experience, users will discover the oracle of AltspaceVR: Annabellee. Each Querent will be invited to her sacred space where, through the Major Arcana Tarot cards, she will reveal their past, present and future.
This VR experience is one branch on the tree of life that makes up the Annabellee Experience, taking place across the festival weekend.
WE’RE STILL HERE
USA | 2018 | 3 Minutes | Creator: Jesse Ayala | Key Collaborators: Oculus VR for Good, The Pride Foundation
Struggling to preserve his cultural identity, an artist and historian from Boise, Idaho takes viewers on a journey to learn about what it means to be “Two Spirit,” a cultural term describing the fluidity of gender identity and sexuality with respect to traditional tribal roles across First Nations.