Ive been DYING to see Cryptozoo.
Dash Shaw and Jane Samborski's expressionistic animated feature film Cryptozoo is an affectionate tribute to Earth's most mysterious beasts. Courtesy of North Bend Film Festival
Something I miss from pre-pandemic times is going to film festivals. I love settling into a cool theater, laminated pass in pocket, watching movies before they get official distribution. It's a thrilling communal experience that's slowly coming back to life as we edge closer to a fitful "normal."

And with that, the North Bend Film Festival is back in action this summer with a hybrid approach to the year's festivities. From July 15-18, you can catch independent films, shorts, and programs hosted by NBFF either in-person at the art deco North Bend Theatre OR from the now overly familiar comfort of your computer screen (geo-blocked to Washington, Oregon, and Idaho). According to a press release, there will be very little title overlap between their virtual and in-person programs, encouraging people to DJ their own unique festival experience.

Many of the biggest features in the festival will be in-person, such as their opening and closing films: Todd Stephens's Swan Song starring Udo Kier and Carlson Young's debut The Blazing World. Excitingly, Dash Shaw's truly fantastic Cryptozoo, which Stranger editor Chase Burns wrote up during our coverage of Sundance, will screen IRL up at North Bend.

So will Jane Schoenbrun's We're All Going to the World's Fair, which is the inaugural winner of NBFF's Dulac Vanguard Filmmaker Award. Named after French filmmaker Germaine Dulac, the award honors "an extraordinary achievement in groundbreaking filmmaking with a director’s first or sophomore feature." Check out the full lineup of in-person and virtual films and shorts here.

Swan Song looks like fun.
Swan Song looks like fun. Courtesy of NBFF

Some other festival programming highlights:

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  • NBFF will celebrate the 20th anniversary of cult favorite and sadfilmboi classic Donnie Darko with a screening of the remastered movie and a conversation with its director, Richard Kelly, moderated by screenwriter April Wolfe.

  • Festival-goers have the opportunity to participate in several immersive experiences. You can go on a surreal self-guided tour of North Bend hosted by an alien named Fred in Marcia Needs Space, or participate in a mystery pregnancy game set inside a swingers lounge with I Swing, You Swing.

  • There are two festival passes you can pick up for $95 each—a 10 features (or shorts!) package for the public (again, geo-restricted to WA, OR, and ID) and a 12 features (or shorts!) package for Industry Members (geo-blocked to the United States). There will be a limited amount of tickets for virtual events, while all panel and podcast programming will be free to ticket holders. You can also snag tickets to individual screenings—and if you're a North Bend local, you're in luck! The good people at NBFF will give you a $3 discount to in-person screenings. Scoop your tickets here.