Snoqualmie Valley Local North Bend Film Festival Reviews

[Guest Post by Snoqualmie Resident Susan Burk]

After no event in 2020 and a hybrid event in 2021, 2022 saw the return of an entirely in-person North Bend Film Festival (NBFF).

Featuring a full line-up of full-length movies, shorts and interactive events like the Campfire Conversation with writer/director Mali Elfman, there was something for everyone. Also appealing was the variety of genres from drama, comedy, horror, foreign language, documentary, thrillers, LGBTQ+ and Narrative Features.

 The opening night film I Love My Dad, starring comedian/actor Patton Oswalt, was dramatic with some moments of hilarity. Based on events from writer, Director, and co-star James Morosini’s life, it tells the story of a troubled young man who decides to end his troubled relationship with his well-meaning but lack of follow-through father.

He blocks his dad on social media, who, in a state of panic, creates a new social media account under the name Becca and befriends his son. When his son starts falling for Becca, he begins to feel closer to his son than ever, but it all quickly falls apart. If you want to know how it ends, you can see it in limited theater release, and no doubt it will eventually land on streaming services as well.

My favorite film, Next Exit, follows the journey of Rose and Teddy, who are traveling cross country to participate in a controversial program where they will voluntarily end their lives. While the program, run by a scientist who says she has proof of an afterlife, is meant as a scientific study, Rose and Teddy each have their reasons for wanting to let go.

During their trip, they face their demons, along with some interesting characters, which gives them a new perspective on life. I liked this film the best because the characters were relatable with their struggles and likable. The actors were excellent and believable.

Susan’s fave: Next Exit

I’m a fan of short films because you can get many different flavors in a short period of time. With three series of shorts, Something Strange, PNW Shorts and Cinema Vista – I experienced it all.

 The final film to close out the festival was Please Baby Please, a musical about a couple trying to sort out their sexual identity in the face of dealing with a gang they witnessed murdering someone. It was very John Watersesque, with a campy vibe, which isn’t a genre I enjoy, so to be honest, I didn’t care much for this movie. When writing about a local event that will hopefully drive more participation, particularly with the locals, is it OK to say I didn’t like one of the featured films? Yes, it is.

Please Baby Please

When Jess Byers, who has an extensive history of working in the film industry on many film festivals all over the world, decided to start a festival in the Pacific Northwest, he wanted it to be in a location that was a destination. After reading about the fundraiser to replace the projector at the historic North Bend theater, considering how beautiful the area is along with its ties to the cult hit Twin Peaks, he knew he had a location with great bones.

North Bend also has the added elements of great walkability, easy parking, and proximity to a major airport. When Jess started building the event, he looked to other film festivals to see what was missing.

Jess knows that not every film will appeal to everyone and that some will push people to the edge of their comfort zone and possibly beyond. This is why I know it’s OK to say I didn’t care for one of the featured movies. My favorite film, Next Exit, was his favorite also, so I’m sure he’ll forgive me.

NBFF is a non-profit, primarily volunteer-run event with a diverse staff from both US coasts, Canada, Europe and beyond who have a shared passion for the art they love. Those who help choose the films presented from the hundreds considered must be unanimous in their vote for inclusion.

Also integral to a successful event is partnering with local community organizations such as NW Jazz Club and Valley Center Stage. Currently, attendance is about 50 percent locals and 50 percent those from outside the area, most from Seattle, although some industry folks from New York and LA also attend.

When I asked Jess what his future goals were for this annual event, his primary goals were to get more locals engaged and to fill the theater for each showing. He’d also like to see an expansion to include other arts, for example, a maker’s market or street fair.

 NBFF is a unique and entertaining event we are lucky to have in our area.

Best Feature Film: Incredible but True

Feature winners:

  • Best Film- Incredible but True; directed by Quentin Dupieux
  • Best Screenplay- The Civil Dead; directed by Clay Tatum
  • Best Performance- Rachel 1:1; Valentina Herszage

Shorts winners:

Best Short Film Baby Fever
  • Best Film- Baby Fever; directed by Hannah Mae Cumming
  • Best Director + Performance-Rachels Don’t Run; Joanny Causse & Sera Barbieri
  • Best Screenplay- Past Life; Andrew Hansen & Jessica Seay-Klatt

See all the North Bend Film Festival Winners here.

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