Nearly everything written about the first North Bend Film Festival—which starts this Thursday and runs through the weekend—has mentioned that North Bend was the inspiration and shooting location for Twin Peaks. Even the festival’s mission statement can’t make it two sentences without mentioning Lynch’s beloved show: “Using the town’s mysterious energy that once inspired David Lynch, the festival will set out to fill the void of programming for the progressive audiences in the Pacific Northwest, and to provide a platform for emerging filmmakers.”

I love Twin Peaks, even last year’s weird-as-hell reboot. The show is an enduring piece of Northwest art, something that, along grunge and coffee, put the region on the national radar. And much like those things it’s been referentially exhausted, another sign that the region can't let go of its early 1990s identity. 

Oddly, North Bend Film Fest isn’t a Twin Peaks or David Lynch festival. Beyond The Extra Ordinary (“a collection of four short films engrained with the filmmaker’s essence”) and some Damn Fine Coffee Hours, this festival doesn’t have much to do with Lynch—which isn’t a bad thing, since the event itself sounds interesting. It has 14 features and a handful of short films. Just look at its headlining movies: The fest opens Thursday with Profile, a thriller that takes place entirely on a computer desktop. Saturday culminates with Shirkers, a self-reflexive documentary about Sandi Tan and a horror movie she was making in 1992, when her mentor and collaborator disappeared with their work. And things close with Anna and the Apocalypse, a yuletide high school zombie musical.

It’s a weird, eclectic little slate of films (some of which look Lynchian, plenty of which don’t) in an old theater in a small town by the mountains. Justin Timms says he and his fellow founders—Hugues Barbier and Jess Byers—want to create a destination festival, building up from the smaller audiences they expect this year. “Sundance started in a tiny town in Utah,” says Timms. “That was a one-stoplight town.”

An out-of-the-way, major film fest around here sounds great. Let's just skip Twede's Cafe when we're in North Bend. 

North Bend Film Festival
Aug 23–26, North Bend Theatre, $15–$95