Beyond that, however, the program also always includes a strange, eclectic mix of genre or at least genre-adjacent films. It’s a weird little film festival, and after taking a pass in 2020 thanks to COVID-19, the 2021 edition returns with as unusual a lineup as ever.
Not a terribly long film festival by any means, the NBFF runs from July 15-18—it essentially equates to a long weekend full of movies. The schedule includes a number of in-person screenings, as well a virtual options in 2021. There’s a shorts program for those so inclined. And one thing that sets this fest apart is the slate of side events and happenings. It’s a little toned down this year, again thanks to the global pandemic, but still features a few cool asides, like tours, storytelling hours, and live podcast recordings. (Also, there’s an official festival brewery and a bunch of dive bars nearby, so there’s that.)
The film line up isn’t huge, but we still have suggestions. Some of these we’ve seen already, others are one’s we’ve heard good things about, and a handful simply look unusual and intriguing. Check out our list below.
A meta South Korean action movie about an actor who wants to be an action star but is transported from a movie set to an alternate reality where she has to become an actual hero? Sign me up, please.
A documentary about female Mexican wrestlers sounds like a hoot, right? Not so fast. Don’t get it wrong, there’s plenty of wrestling, but this film uses the high-flying acrobatics as a lens to view harsh existence in one of the most dangerous cities in the world, ubiquitous cultural misogyny, and the everyday life of women looking for escape and safety and a way to cope with the with the world that surrounds them. Easily one of the best documentaries I’ve seen this year.
Red Post on Escher Street
Love him or hate him, a Sion Sono movie is always a sight to behold. The Japanese director brings his freewheeling style to a sprawling behind-the-scenes look at a film production from the point of view of the harried genius director and an expansive collection of hopeful actors, extras, and crew members. It captures the giddy highs and crushing lows of the artistic process as experienced by weirdos, divas, devotees, and the broken and unhinged.
Hey, you know this movie. It’s the one with giant hallucinated rabbit that made Jake Gyllenhaal a star. Fun fact, 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of Richard Kelly’s breakout feature and to celebrate the occasion, North Bend is showing a new restoration of the film as well as staging a virtual (pretty sure) event with Kelly.
The Witches of the Orient
Be warned, this doesn’t involve any actual witches. Instead, the title refers to the nickname of the Japanese woman’s volleyball team, made up mostly of factory workers, who took on the world in the 1960s and became an international sensation. The Witches of the Orient mixes archival footage, animated recreations, and current interviews with the players into a powerful, unusual sports documentary.
An uptight, impatient, dickish father/husband in a hurry to get to grandma’s house tailgates the wrong anonymous white van in this Dutch saga of road rage gone nightmarishly wrong. Not a terribly original plot, Tailgate is a solid stripped-down, stress-inducing thriller of toxic masculinity and fragile, bruised egos.
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
One we’ve been waiting to see for what feels like forever (though it’s only been a few months), this strange, surreal teen coming-of-age horror has been on our must-watch list since we first heard about it. I honestly don’t know much about We're All Going to the World's Fair, I want to go in as cold as possible, but the hype machine has been in full gear.
With a title like Ninjababy, you have my attention. I’m not even 100% sure what this movie is about—maybe about a ninja who is also a baby?—but I’m going to watch it anyway. (And I’ve heard good things, so there’s that.)