- The festival was founded in 2002 out of South Bend, Indiana
- The festival moved to Goshen, Indiana, in 2016. The inaugural season in Goshen shattered all previous attendance records and has been growing ever since.
- An average of 50 to 75 films are screened at the festival per year.
- Previous special guests include Academy Award®-winning writer and actress Rachel Shenton (The Silent Child), Academy Award®-winning director Chris Overton (The Silent Child), actress Beth Grant (The Artist, No Country for Old Men, Donnie Darko), screenwriter Wes Jones (Billions, The Brink), writer/director Jim Strouse (The Incredible Jessica James, People Places Things), producer/director Leila Djansi (Like Cotton Twines), and many more.
About the River Bend Film Festival
River Bend Film Festival is a celebration of independent filmmaking, founded in 2002 by a group of filmmakers and avid film-lovers in South Bend, Indiana. Through screenings, workshops, appearances by industry guests, and special events, the festival has brought filmmakers and their fans together to celebrate the art of film for over 15 years.
For the first seven years, the festival was located on the campus of Indiana University-South Bend and was originally named the IU-South Bend Independent Video & Filmmakers Festival. For its first year, the festival was a one-day event but grew into two days in the second year.
River Bend has screened hundreds of student, regional, and international films, averaging 50-70 per year. It has also offered workshops on lighting, acting, editing, screenwriting, visual effects, crowdfunding, and more.
The festival accepts all genres: narrative, documentary, experimental, music video, animation, student, features, and shorts. River Bend makes it a priority to highlight the work of local and regional filmmakers, and many of the films come from across the country and around the world.
The RBFF Team
Thanks to these folks for their hard work putting this festival together!
Tim Richardson, Founder
Gina Leichty, Board President
Adrienne Nesbitt, Director
Jordon Hodges, Programming Director
Leah Hunsberger, Volunteer Coordinator
Anna Wiebe, Special Events Coordinator
Megan Hessl, Special Guests Hospitality
Joni Earl, Filmmaker Hospitality
Kyle Hufford, Videographer
Fabio Santos, Photographer
Carrie Lee Bland Kendall, Head Emcee
David Kendall, Head Moderator
Ben Stutzman, Website/Marketing
Katie Barnes, Goshen Theater Front of House Manager
Jerry Peters, Technical Director
James Korn, Graphic Designer, Photographer
Riley Mills, Programmer
Andrew Borntrager, Programmer
Elizabeth Derstine, Programmer
David Leaman-Miller, Programmer
Taylor Stansberry, Programmer
Nick Matthews, Programmer
Dave Orvis, Script Competition Coordinator
David Boyer, Script Judge
Chris Waite, Script Judge
Rose Waldschmidt, Script Judge
Donald Kopis, Script Judge
Rose Orvis, Script Judge
Ed Ernstes, Script Judge
Barbara Devereaux, Script Judge
River Bend Film Festival Regional Film Jury
Carrie Lee Bland Kendall
River Bend Film Festival Industry Film Jury
A BAFTA/LA Award winning writer, director, and producer, Leila Djansi began her filmmaking career in Ghana at the age of 19 with the Ghana Film Company. She subsequently moved to the United states to study film at the Savannah College of Art and Design on an Artistic Honors Scholarship.
Her 2009 directorial debut I Sing of a Well netted an unprecedented 11 nominations at the African Academy Awards, winning the special Jury Award for Overall Best Film. She followed up with the Black Reel Awards nominated Ties That Bind, starring Kimberly Elise (Confirmation, John Q) in 2012.
Her film, Like Cotton Twines, explores issues of modern day slavery and won the best narrative feature at the 2016 Savannah film festival, winning the same category at the River Bend Film Festival in 2017. Her other credits include Where Children Play with Grammy Winner Macy Gray, the UNiFEM advocacy film Sinking Sands and the LA Film Festival Best Episodic Television Show 40 and Single for AMC’s Urban Movie Channel.
Leila Djansi has been recognized by various international organizations for continuously using her art to bring light to women’s issues, and she has consistently made movies for women and about women, whiles employing diversity behind and in front of the camera.
Veteran film and television actor Brett Baker has worked opposite some of Hollywood’s most noted actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Crudup, Chad Coleman, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jason Bateman, Dermot Mulroney, Nicolas Cage, Peter Weller, and Jon Voight.
His stage work includes performances at The Mark Taper and The John Ford Theater. Between solo acting gigs, Baker produced original sketch comedy at the Comedy & Magic Club, The Improv, The Ice House, and The Comedy Store.
In 2006, he formed Luck up Studios to produce Broken, an 11 track solo album, which he recorded in his living room.
An actor by trade and a producer at heart, Baker formed B2 Entertainment, LLC to facilitate, The Shade Shepherd, his first producing effort behind the camera with producing partner Jordon Hodges. Baker plays a cameo appearing as Styx, the salty harmonica playing boat captain.
With a professional career spanning 25 years, Stephen has written for a variety of acclaimed directors and producers, including Mike Nichols (The Graduate), Taylor Hackford (Ray), Kathleen Kennedy (Star Wars), Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean), Michael Bay (Transformers), and Marvel Comics.
Stephen’s first produced feature film, The Grudge, was produced by legendary director Sam Raimi. With a budget under $10M, it grossed nearly $200 million worldwide in its theatrical release. It remains one of the most financially successful horror films of all time.
Four of his films – The Grudge 1 & 2, The Possession, and Texas Chainsaw 3D – placed #1 at the U.S. box office, and two others (Red, starring Brian Cox, and High School, with Adrien Brody and Michael Chiklis) premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Beyond the Reach, a thriller he developed and produced with Michael Douglas, premiered at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival.
His directorial debut, Unfriended: Dark Web, was produced by horror maven Jason Blum (Get Out, The Purge, Insidious, Split, Paranormal Activity), premiered at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. It became a New York Times’ Critic’s Pick and was a selection in the New York Times’ “standout films” list, lauded as “an exhilarating take on one of the most intriguing and terrifying aspects of our current culture”, and was included on many “Best Of” horror lists for the year.
He is currently developing a horror comedy for Will Ferrell, a true-story thriller for Ben Stiller, and a branching narrative feature for Netflix.
Raised in the South, Beth Grant moved frequently as a child and enjoys claiming several towns and cities in Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina as home. She was a Page in the North Carolina Senate, attended the North Carolina Governor’s School for Gifted and Talented students, and received a governor’s appointment at the age of nineteen.
Grant was president of the East Carolina University College Democrats for two years, receiving the Outstanding College Democrat Award from then Senator Edmund Muskie. She is a graduate of ECU with a BFA in Acting and Directing.
One of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces, she has starred in over seventy feature films including this year’s Best Picture Academy Award nominated Little Miss Sunshine (2006). She delighted in creating the character you love to hate, Pageant Official Jenkins, making Grant the happy recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble Cast In A Feature Film.
Other popular studio pictures include Rock Star (2001), The Rookie (2002), Matchstick Men (2003), Rain Man (1988), City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold (1994), To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995), A Time to Kill (1996), and Speed (1994).
Grant has appeared in over thirty plays from Los Angeles to New York including two productions at The Ahmanson, William Inge’s Picnic (with Jennifer Jason Leigh), and Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke (with Christopher Reeve) under the direction of Circle Rep’s Marshall W. Mason. She has created roles in the world premieres of Holy Ghosts by Romulus Linney, On A Southern Journey by Maya Angelou, The Day Emily Married by Horton Foote, Sordid Lives, and The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife by Del Shores.
Grant is a recipient of The Los Angeles Drama Critics Award and The L.A. Stage Alliance Award and The Backstage West Garlan Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Del Shores’ The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife.
On television, Grant was a favorite on the Six Feet Under (2001) episode, Six Feet Under: In Case of Rapture (2004). This season, she married then cheated on Jason Lee on My Name Is Earl (2005). She has been a regular or recurred on many television shows including Malcolm in the Middle (2000), King of the Hill (1997), Yes, Dear (2000), Everwood (2002), Delta (1992), and Wonderfalls (2004).
She has guest-starred in hundreds of hit television series such as Friends (1994), The X-Files (1993), Angel (1999) and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000). Grant starred in Tony Hillerman’s A Thief of Time (2004), produced by Robert Redford (PBS), The Image (1990) with Albert Finney (HBO), Switched at Birth (1991), and Fall from Grace (1990) (NBC). Grant has produced documentaries, comedy reviews, and television; she has run a theatre company, raised money for schools and was a celebrity coordinator for Jimmy Carter’s first presidential campaign. But what she really loves to do is act. Grant is a student of Milton Katselas at The Beverly Hills Playhouse. She is married to actor Michael Chieffo, they have one child, Mary Chieffo.
2020 River Bend Film Festival Sponsors
This project is made possible by the support of the Indiana Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.