Take a map of Oregon. Fold it down the middle lengthwise. Then fold it again the other way. The spot right in the middle, where the two folds intersect? That's about where you'll find Bend, a beautiful city of about 75,000 people, and home to BendFilm Festival. The fest is new (it just launched in 2004), but it's quickly picking up steam and adding to the Pacific Northwest's already vibrant independent film scene.

The lineup for the fourth BendFilm Festival, to be held Oct. 11-14, has just been announced, and it's a good one. There are 13 narratives, 17 documentaries, and a few dozen shorts in competition, many of them already favorites from other festivals, with a few premieres sprinkled in, too.

Slamdance hits American Forkand Dante's Inferno are on tap, the former from the producer of Napoleon Dynamite; the latter an animated take on the literary classic. The Insurgentsdepicts four radicals trying to spark a revolution in post-9/11 America. And I like the sound of Blood Car: With gas prices hovering near $40 a gallon in the near future, an environmentalist seeks an alternative fuel source -- and accidentally finds a horrible one. (Think Little Shop of Horrors. Think Soylent Green....)

The docs are even more intriguing. Red White Black & Blue tells of two American soldiers who fought the Japanese during a secret Alaskan invasion during World War II. The wonders and dangers of nature are explored in King Corn (about America's farming system), Mekong: Exploring the Mother of Waters (about the Southeast Asian river), and River Ways (about the Snake River in Washington). And triumph over disease is heralded in Ready (about cerebral palsy) and The Breast Cancer Diaries.

Oh, and Wiener Takes All: A Dogumentaryis about the cutthroat world of competitive dachshund racing. That by itself is almost a reason to fly to Bend.

Passes for the festival are reasonably priced and Bend is a fantastic destination, especially in the fall. After Telluride, it might just be the most beautiful location for an American film festival. Visit the fest's website for more info.
categories Cinematical