Friday, December 4, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 3, 2010
Missoula, MT - Big Sky Documentary Film Festival will host a special pitch session with Richard Saiz, Senior Program Manager at ITVS on Friday, February 19, 2010. Saiz, who serves as a liaison with producers and ITVS, one of the largest and most important funders of independent documentary work in the U.S. will hear fifteen live pitches during the session at the 7th Annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.
BSDFF is currently accepting proposals to pitch. The deadline for receipt of proposals is January 1, 2010. There is no charge to submit.
Proposals for independently produced documentaries, in-progress, of any length on any subject should include the following: a one-paragraph description of the project, which should include information about the subject of the film, the style/form of the film, basic technical details (shooting format), the current status of the project, including any funding sources secured to-date, and a ball-park total budget for the film. Addition information required: a website for the filmmaker (if available), personal filmography/film credits (if available), contact info - email/phone number.
Fifteen (15) pitches will be selected to present on February 19. Filmmakers selected for the pitch session will be notified of acceptance by January 15, 2010. Those accepted in the session are required to pay a non-refundable $45 registration fee. Presenting filmmakers will be able to show clips or trailers of their Works-In-Progress (if available) as part of their pitch. Each pitch will be limited to 10 minutes total, which can include not more than 3 minutes of WIP material, and not more than a 4 minute pitch. This will be followed by discussion and questions from Richard Saiz.
The live pitch session is open to the general public for observation for $5 at the door, and free to Big Sky Documentary Film Festival All-Access Pass holders (1st come first serve).
Proposals should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org They must be received no later than January 1, 2010.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 11, 2009
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival has received a generous $10,000 grant from The Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The grant will be used to support special programs at the 2010 Festival (February 12-21 in Missoula, MT), including filmmaker retrospectives and a special sidebar entitled “Indigenous Visions: Films by and about Native Americans”.
The Academy Foundation awarded $450,000 to 24 U.S. film festivals for the 2010 calendar year. “We are extremely grateful to The Academy for their support,” said Big Sky Festival Director Mike Steinberg. “Without their generosity this sort of programming would simply not be possible.”
“Indigenous Visions” will feature new and historic work that conveys the depth and beauty of Native American life. The program will include guest artists and panel discussions throughout the ten day event. The program is being currated by Steinberg, filmmaker Gita Saedi Kiely, and Angelica Lawson, a professor in Native American Studies at the University of Montana.
The full slate of films and events, along with the Official Selections of the 7th Annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival will be available in early January at http://www.bigskyfilmfest.org/
Passes for the ten-day event are available now on line at http://www.bigskyfilmfest.org/tickets.html
For more information:
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
131 South Higgins Ave. Suite 3-6
Missoula, Montana 59802
Monday, October 19, 2009
Final Deadline - October 20, 2009
Rough Cuts and Works In Progress are accepted ONLY for this Final Deadline
Special Extended Entry Deadline- October 31, 2009
This Special Deadline is for WITHOUTABOX ENTRIES ONLY
The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, the premier venue for nonfiction film in the American West, is seeking submissions for its seventh annual event. From February 12-21, 2010 the festival will screen 100 films, including world and U.S. premieres, classics, rare and experimental works on Montana's largest screen at the historic Wilma Theater in downtown Missoula, Montana. In addition to ten days of screenings, the event will feature many public and VIP events including panel discussions, galas, receptions and networking round-tables.
The competitive event is open to non-fiction films and videos of all genres, subject matter, lengths and production dates. Awards and cash prizes will be given for Best Documentary Feature (over 50 minutes), Best Documentary Short (15-50 minutes), Best Mini-Doc (under 15 minutes) and best documentary about the American West (the "Big Sky Award").
VHS (NTSC/PAL), DVD (NTSC/PAL), DVCAM (NTSC/PAL), HDV (NTSC), and miniDV (NTSC/PAL) accepted for preview.
Enter via Withoutabox.com http://www.withoutabox.com/login/3969
or download entry form in pdf format http://www.bigskyfilmfest.org/entries.htm
If you would like an entry form emailed to you in pdf format, send a request to email@example.com
For more information visit http://www.bigskyfilmfest.org
We look forward to viewing your films!
Monday, May 11, 2009
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Announces Call For Entries
May 11, 2009
Missoula, Montana - The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, the premier venue for nonfiction film in the American West, is seeking submissions for its seventh annual event. From February 12-21, 2010 the festival will screen 100 films, including world and U.S. premieres, classics, rare and experimental works on Montana’s largest screen at the historic Wilma Theater in downtown Missoula, Montana. In addition to ten days of screenings, the event will feature many public and VIP events including panel discussions, galas, receptions and networking round-tables.
The competitive event is open to non-fiction films and videos of all genres, subject matter, lengths and production dates. Awards and cash prizes will be given for Best Documentary Feature (over 50 minutes), Best Documentary Short (15-50 minutes), Best Mini-Doc (under 15
minutes) and best documentary about the American West (the “Big Sky Award”).
DVD (NTSC/PAL), VHS (NTSC/PAL), DVCAM (NTSC/PAL), HDV (NTSC), and miniDV (NTSC/PAL) accepted for preview.
Enter via Withoutabox.com Here
Download entry form in pdf format Here
If you would like an entry form emailed to you in pdf format, send a request Send Email
For more information visit bigskyfilmfest.org
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Thanks again to all the amazing filmmakers and volunteers that made BSDFF 2009 such a tremendous sucess.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Final Word: While I had the ability to watch as many as 100 documentary films in their entirety, I didn't because, as I've stated before, I suffer from some sort of weird distraction thing. And, of course, because I was blogging half the time. But, that said, I did see one film (a short) in full that I will say was very, very good.
I Love Alaska is much like a slideshow in that it showed stills of the state's scenery while a woman's AOL searches were read outloud. The woman is introduced as a case number--one of thousands whose search histories were exposed and posted publicly online after a glitch in the AOL server--and referred to as that case number throughout the story. If one were to read the transcript of this film, it would be bullet points, though all structured in a narrative manner, describing this woman's life as represented by these phrases and words entered into the internet search engine.
While the entire idea is conveyed within the first 15 minutes (runtime is about 40), the concept is so novel and concise and heartbreaking (she has hypochondriac tendancies and researches divorce, lesbianism, social stigmas and the effects of extramarital affairs) that it pulls you in, leaving you wanting more of this obsessive web-browsing. And it makes you think about tracking your own Google searches and how much they reveal about your own state of mind.
See you next year! Thanks for reading and thanks for rocking, Missoula, MT.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
I talk with Doug Hawes-Davis, founder of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, about this year's turn-out, the state of documentary, and his position as programming director.
T: How many submissions did you receive this year?
DHD: About 1000 from over 30 different countries
T: Is that more or less compared to last year?
T: What about the turn-out? How does that compare to last year's and in years past?
DHD: Total numbers are not in yet, but it's looking like about a 25% increase over last year.
T: What is your association this year compared to last year?
T: How many people do you work with who help choose which films get in the festival?
and yours truly
T: What do you think about the future state of documentaries? Where is this genre going?
From the ashes of the 1992 L.A. riots, the South Central Farmers have nurtured the nations largest urban farm. They have created a miracle in one of the country's most blighted neighborhoods. Growing their own food. Feeding their families. But now bulldozers are poised to level their 14 acre oasis. THE GARDEN is an unflinching look at the struggle between these Latino farmers and the City of Los Angeles and a powerful developer who want to evict them and build warehouses. Leaving the farmers to ask 'Where is our 'Justice for all'?'
Saturday, February 21, 2009
When Chris Wong's friend, Edward Tom, decided to become an educator after working for years at Saks Fifth Avenue, Wong knew he had to tell his story.
While the film's subjects are an African American student and an Asian American (two races that are not typically known to get along in the inner-city environment), Wong says the film "isn't about racial conflict, because that issue really doesn't pop up, but I think that's definitely an interesting aspect....seeing them work hand-in-hand is pretty revolutionary."
Any why did they decide to sneak preview it here?
At 12.3o today Big Sky will present another one of Berlinger's great films, Gray Matter, a contemporary story that illuminates one of history's darkest periods. It's a compelling tale of murder, conspiracy, guilt and redemption. It accounts Berlinger's hunt for 89-year-old Dr. Heinrich Gross, one of Austria's leading forensic psychiatrists and alleged murderer of hundreds of handicapped children. A Q&A will follow the film.
At 2.30 plays Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, an in-depth portrait of the most successful heavy metal band of all time, as they faced monumental personal and professional challenges while recording their first studio album of original songs in five years. The film trades rock-star posing for truthful introspection, and reveals an intimate portrait of the individuals behind a legendary band and their unique creative journey. A Q&A will follow the film.
Friday, February 20, 2009
What Brendan Canty and Christoph Green have created with their Burn to Shine project is a way for artists to gather in one spot and create something that can never be recreated.
It began in 2004 when a friend offered them a house given to him by an old woman who had recently died. The friend wanted to honor the woman, and Green and Canty came up with this idea, which eventually became Burn to Shine--the first one was shot in Washington D.C., when many of the bands there were in flux. Other featured cities include Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, and Chicago.
"I thought it'd be interesting, like that photo in Harlem with all the jazz bands," explains Canty. "Then when you look at it in 20 years, it illuminates the relationships that people had. My idea was to film a bunch of people who were connected...a community of musicians in one day...not to create a full-blown documentary, but just to create a portrait."
I talk with Alan Rosenblith, director of The Money Fix, about his background, the state of the economy, the evolution of Twitter and the truth about where our money is made.
The Money Fix screens tonight at its WORLD PREMIERE at 4.45pm.
T: What inspired you to make such a film?
T: What does your company have to do with the message your film conveys?
I founded Community Prosper as an Oregon based non-profit whose purpose is to promote the use and development of peer-to-peer based currency (one type of currency design). Recently, I have been working with a Twitter-based start-up that uses Twitter to make payments in micro-currencies called "Twollars." I think this kind of direct audience engagement is how to ensure financial success for social-purpose documentaries in today's Internet-based media climate.
T: Do you have a filmmaking background?
T: What is the biggest misconception people have about money?
The second misconception is that money is a THING in the sense that there is only so much of it. Money is actually nothing more than information about who owes who what. And this is a very good thing. Right now, we are experiencing a "credit crunch" which means money is disappearing. But think about it, we are still all here with the same talents and resources. The only thing that is missing is money to enable exchange. The problem is that, as a culture, we make something that is inherently just information (and therefore sufficient) into something scarce. This is in fact the sole function of our financial system. Think about it, if you have to make money to live, you have to compete for it. That is not something inherent, but rather something that is there by design.
T: How did Big Sky get to be the place you premiered your film?
T: Who do you hope to reach with this film? Who is your audience?
T: Any future projects?AR: I am really passionate about using filmmaking as a catalyst for human evolution (particularly in the domain of money), so I am working on a series of follow-up pieces to THE MONEY FIX that will get into greater depth. The issues around money go VERY deep, and I think there could be several more feature length films worth of material there.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Announces Award Winners
Best Feature: Rough Aunties by Kim Longinotto
Artistic Vision: In A Dream by Jeremiah Zagar
Best Short: Bronx Princess by Musa Syeed & Yoni Brook
Artistic Vision: The First Kid to Learn English From Mexico by Peter Jordan
Best MiniDoc: Jennifer by Stewart Copeland
Artistic Vision: The Secret Life of Beards by Melanie Levy
Big Sky Award: Red Gold by Travis Rummel & Ben Knight
Programmer’s Choice Awards
Best Editing: Crude by Joe Berlinger
Best Cinematography: Ashes of American Flags by Brendan Canty & Christoph Green
Best Music Doc: The Choir by Michael Davie
AWARD SCREENING SCHEDULE
Fri. Feb 20, 2009 at 7 pm - In A Dream, Jennifer & The Secret Life of Beards
Sat. Feb 21, 2009 at 7 pm - Red Gold; Bronx Princess; The First Kid to Learn English From Mexico,
Sun. Feb 22, 2009 at 8 pm - The Choir & Rough Aunties
Thanks to the nine-member festival jury:
Hutton, a neuroscience and art history major, had never made a documentary, much less a film, but felt the issue was topical and was compelled to expose a story about the newest and deepest oil discovery in the United States.
He returned to North Dakota that following May (in 2006), when news of the oil discovery began to peak. Hutton and his crew of two, with a budget of $10,000 (all tracked on an Excel spreadsheet by their "finance manager"), produced an account of what he describes as an "historical moment."
Just in the past years, says Hutton, the North Dakota landscape has transformed from a flat, uninhabited wasteland to a sprawling scene of power lines, trailers and "bobbing creatures" digging 10,000 feet for one of the world's most precious resources. The state had a surplus of $1Billion last fiscal year and is hugely profiting from this boom; there are hundreds of jobs for the transient workforce, but housing is scarce.
The film just won Best of Fest at the Oxford Film Festival and will go on tour after leaving Big Sky.
Hutton hopes to make his next film about artificial intelligence and a process to measure its existence, called the "Turing Test."
It's a straightforward piece about people and their art cars--nothing more, nothing less. What drives people to decorate their cars? Is it ego? Insecurity? Obsession? After 13 years, Blank (son of filmmaker Les Blank), may have figured it all out.
Check out Blank's cool site here. He's currently working working on a film about The Burning Man Festival (shot on 16mm) due out in the Fall of 2010.
Award-winning filmmaker, journalist and photographer Joe Berlinger has created some of the most compelling non-fiction films of the last thirty years. Whether exploring the dark terrains of child murder and siblingcide or the complications of a heavy metal group's therapy, Berlinger's films go deep into the complex topography of humanness.
He has also directed and produced numerous hours of television, including the Sundance Channel series, Iconoclasts.
Berlinger joins Big Sky 2009 for an intimate look at his work.
BROTHER'S KEEPER 11.45am
PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS 2pm
REVELATIONS: PARADISE LOST 2 10am
GRAY MATTER w/ICONOCLASTS 2.30pm
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
- There seems to be more paying work in doc filmmaking than in fiction filmmaking.
- Consider trimming your feature down--it may work better that way.
- Posting online may affect its possibility of being widely distributed.
- Wear lots of hats; learn to do one or more thing in the business.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Are people's attention spans shortening or are they just more hungry for solid content?
- How do you feel about posting your shorts for free?
- Who would want to watch this film?
- What's the film's niche market?
Thursday's panel is on the business of documentary--how to distribute your independent work in the world of mass media. Moderated by Chris White. 2pm at the Crystal Theatre.
Photo by Cathrine Walters
Today Doug Whyte, director of the International Documentary Challenge, comes to us from Portland, Oregon to discuss short-form documentary and its place in a market driven by high-profile documentary features. What are the broadcast, exhibition and internet options for short-form docs?
Join us at the Crystal Theatre, 515 Higgins Avenue, at 2pm.
FREE and open to the public.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Today's discussion focusing on the art of documentary film welcomed seven panelists whose films ranged from the debated "art doc" to more formulaic pieces and features by amateurs to works about "cultural collision."
- How do you get at the truth in your filmmaking process?
- How much of your own tone, interpretation and subject-to-director interaction goes into that process?
- How truly objective can a documentary be?
- How many varieties of documentary film are there within the genre? ie Post-modern, avant garde, fly-on-the-wall, directorial inclusion, etc.
Photo by Cathrine Walters
Panel members will include Richard Beer of Film Action Oregon; John Kane, director of the short Frontier Youth; Lisa Whitmer of No Strings Attached; and Mike Murphy of the Media Arts Department at U of M.
Hosted by the Crystal Theatre, 515 S. Higgins Avenue, Missoula
2pm on Tuesday, February 17th
*FREE and Open to the Public
Monday, February 16, 2009
That is why I like the SHORTS PROGRAMS.
Monday at 1.15pm SHORTS PROGRAM #3 New York Stories
Monday at 9.45pm SHORTS PROGRAM #4 Some Dreamers
Tuesday 6.30pm SHORTS PROGRAM #5 Wide Open Spaces II
Wednesday 5pm INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY CHALLENGE FILMS
Sunday 3.15pm SHORTS PROGRAM #6 What Work Is
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Mann recently finished his retrospective at Big Sky, lives in Toronto and once lived on a commune.
The Boston-based Alloy Orchestra has been around since 1991 when Ken Winokur and Terry Donahue united their unique percussion backgrounds with a pianist who was later replaced by the current pianist, a trained compositionist and a former punk rocker, Roger Miller, nearly 11 years ago. Their premiere film was the Fritz Lang classic Metropolis. (The man who asked them to provide the score apparently didn't like the 1980's Freddy Mercury version.) The ensemble insists on using only the best prints available, and has travelled as far as New Zealand and Sweden to play their compositions made for both short and feature-length silent films.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the band is the "rack of junk" that travels with the trio to every gig. Depending on the airport stipulations, however, the number of instruments may vary.
The rack of junk may include any or all of the following:
2 or 3 gongs
2 truck springs
metal pipes used as chimes
a metal bedpan
a real drumset torn apart and spread out
cakepans used as untuned steel drums
a giant xylophone made of 2x4's
Terry Donahue, a percussionist, has also picked up the accordion and the musical saw, or what he calls the "poorman's theramine," a rare instrument typically used in the early 1900's. He uses the saw because "has a lot of traits that work much better for us. It is much more durable to travel with and lends itself to the junk thing very well."
"We anticipate we'll be together for a long time, so it's been worth our learning instruments and learning styles of music that we can bring into the band," says Ken Winokur, the second percussionist.
He picked up the clarinet 8-10 years ago because he felt the group needed more melodic instruments.
"I figured it was warm and pretty instead of the harsh metal stuff."
Roger uses sheet music, but leaves room for improvisation, while Terry tries to memorize as much as possible, but phases it out as quickly as he can. Kerry composes a kind of "complex storyboard." For him, it's all about reading ahead and anticipating which sticks he needs for which drum or cymbal at which time.
While the musical compositions aren't too difficult to sort out, Winokur explains that choosing films is not as easy as it looks, and that being "commissioned" is usually not an option.
"We typically will figure out what we want to do or get asked by a film festival, so the trick for us is to figure out what will represent our tour for a year or more," says Winokur. "Because we don't want to do one film just once...if we're gonna do it, we're gonna do it a lot."
"So that's the trick: finding a film that we wanna play and that people want to see that can be accessible. Some festivals want the really obscure ones."
"When we were asked to do it [Metropolis], we did it the way we thought it should be done," says Donahue. "We didn't look back at the old scores and think of it as something old...we still try to think of these things that work as pieces of art that will stand the test of time. We just try to play music we think is appropriate to the film."
One the trio's toughest challenges is their likelihood as a percussion-based band to overwhelm the score with drums and too much noise even when the scene is soft and quiet.
"I think what's difficult for us is that we have a tendency to be large and exciting
and powerful, I mean, that's our style, but all the films don't call for that, and all the scenes don't call for that, so I think it's important to keep control of ourselves and bring the volume down, and bring the emotion qualities," says Winokur.
"The best example of that is Blackmail (Hitchcock, 1929)," adds Donahue. "We want to be drummers and we want to hit'em and Blackmail is so...suspenseful. It's one of the hardest ones just for that reason, because everytime you wanna play something, you gotta pull back and say no, i only have to play a quarter of what I want to play."
"But on the other hand I think that adds to what makes the score really work for it. Because our feeling of tension of pulling back translates into a feeling of suspense which is perfect for a Hitchcock movie. Mostly we try to find the feel and vibe and the rhythm of the movie, try not to overplay it then go from there. Sometimes it's easier said than done."
Audiences ("little kids, hipsters and grandparents") continue to be moved by their compositions and follow their work around the world. Their next project, Man with a Movie Camera, will premiere in St. Petersburg, Russia in April.
In the short film 'Jennifer,' filmmaker Stewart Copeland explores his relationship with his mother through a recorded conversation between eighth-grade students and astronauts aboard the international space station.
It plays at 3pm today in Wilma 1 with the shorts series.
Director Stewart Copeland hails from Tullahoma, Tennessee and graduated from Webster University with a degree in film production. He continues to shoot photography and short films, adding to his repertoire of visual arts.
Friday, February 13, 2009
VLH: Alison and I kept in touch and in 2005 I asked her if she’d like to make a documentary with me based off the work I had been doing on my carnival project. Although we had never collaborated before, we were willing to see if we could make this happen and throw caution to the wind, so to speak. We each brought elements to the film that the other was lacking--her creativity in crafting compelling story lines as a film and my in roads to this elusive sub culture that is traditionally sensitive towards any media attention as well as my visual aesthetics on a subject I had dedicated several years to...we both gained respect and trust in each’s input and in the end, the film speaks for itself in the richly, compelling stories and vivid visual capturing of the carnival.
During that time we were working on the film I had my photographs published in a book titled, ‘Carny; Americana on the Midway,' published by Umbrage Editions which I guess makes this endeavor I began so many years ago complete.
Education Coordinator Niki Payton has networked with several high schools to bring Big Sky documentaries and their filmmakers to area students. The first day of the Festival, Kathy Corley (Secret: The Josephine Baker Files) and Eran Barak (Bloomfield or Childhood Memory) showed their respective short films to classes in the auditorium then answered questions from students.
Zach Stauffer speaks with students after screening his short, A Day Late in Oakland
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Ron Mann screenings at the Wilma Theatre:
COMIC BOOK CONFIDENTIAL (1988)
Saturday 2/14 @ 10am
Saturday 2/14 @12pm
Saturday 2/14 @1.45pm
TALES OF THE RAT FINK (2006)
Sunday 2/15 @10am
POETRY IN MOTION (1982)
Sunday 2/15 @11.40am
IMAGINE THE SOUND (1981)
Sunday 2/15 @1.40pm
More about Ron Mann:
VIP goodie bags filled.
Final screening questions answered.
Bicycle for blogger provided.
Filmmakers trickling in from airport.
Twitter updated, Flickr updated.
On tap for tomorrow:
--HBO's special presentation of Thriller in Manila at 6pm (FREE public admission)
--Kickoff Party at 8pm (FREE to All-Access Pass holders, or $5 admission)
Monday, February 9, 2009
PB:After I showed interest in the Festival to my professor Gita Saedi, she put me in contact with the Festival Director/Programmer Mike Steinberg. We chatted via email a couple of times in December and I started interning in January.
PB: I really don't have any history. This is my first experience with a film festival, and with the documentary industry. Working at the festival is really a starting point for me to be much more involved in the future.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
What first struck me about Jeanie Finlay was her shoes: ankle-cut healed lace-ups. She wore them with tights and a long skirt and a flowing top. She had just arrived from England to present her newest film, Goth Cruise, to the audience at the Webster Film Series in St. Louis. Jeanie was engaging and articulate and friendly. And her movie rocked.
Goth Cruise is a film about, well, exactly what you'd think it's about: a cruise inhabited by Goths. Finlay found the subjects for her "Gothumentary" in both the UK and the USA, and follows them on their journey to organize and ultimately enjoy their time on the Caribbean cruise of 150 Goths and 2,500 "norms." The feature length film documents the lifestyles, traditions and outside perceptions of this seemingly controversial group of people, and presents it in a way that's intriguing and informative.
There's the guy whose coworkers have no idea about his after-hours appearance.
The man who dresses in Goth drag.
The woman who never fit in and finds comfort in dressing Goth.
The couple who brings their child along on the cruise.
Finlay shows them packing everything from their sunscreen to their head dresses to their horns, then captures the reaction of the other attendees ("norms") as they board the ship, party, and take advantage of all the amenities cruise ships offer--like shuffleboard and buffets. The contrasts presented are striking, and the impressions of the elderly on-lookers is, at times, heartbreaking; but, overall, the film realistically explores the side of everyday people whose penchant for piercings, darkness, leather and make-up ultimately has an effect on the attention (negative or positive) they receive from those different than themselves.
The pace, the soundtrack, the intimacy of the interviews, the colorful portraits and the extraordinary cinematography (Finlay is also a photographer) make this film one of the must-sees at Big Sky this year.
Goth Cruise screens Sunday, February 15th at 9pm in Wilma 1.
Finlay's previous film, Teenland, looks at the life of 4 teenagers in their bedrooms. It aired on the BBC two years ago. Above photo from Finlay's Flickr site documenting the cruise.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Delta Rising is a Big Sky Official Selection and makes its Northwest premiere at 3pm on Monday, February 16th at the Wilma.
T: How did you come upon the small town and its claim of blues ownership?
AF: Delta Rising grew out of a story about a musician named Chris Cotton, an incredibly talented San Francisco bluesman that plays in a style that hasn't really been done in 40 or 50 years. Chris was introduced to me by one of the producers - Matthew Goff back in 2003. Well Chris went to Clarksdale, MS to record an album entitled "I watched Devil Die" and we went along to document that process. It was an eye opening, wildly pleasurable experience and we spent a lot of time in juke joints and at front porch parties getting to know the local folks and musicians in that town. This is a place where folks like John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, BB King, Ike Turner, Sam Cooke, Son House and many others reign from - it is definitely ground zero for the delta blues scene.
T: What inspired you to research the topic?
AF: I wasn't really a blues fan at the time I agreed to do the film, but I definitely am now. Chris was really the inspiration for doing the film but it was experiencing this place, Clarksdale, MS and the people and history of the place that really took us to the next level. It was during this exploration that we discovered Morgan Freeman owned a blues club, called Ground Zero there and we began to see if we might have him engaged in the film. It took about 9 months but our schedules finally aligned and we got to interview him about what the area means to him, what this music means to him - it was really terrific. He has a great quote - The Blues is America's Classical Music - and I agree.
T: How long did it take you to shoot and complete the film?
AF: Most of the shooting happened in 2006-2008 though, some of it in 2003/4. It doesn't seem like 6 years, and the interesting thing about documentaries, at least this one for sure is - you could do it forever, there is always more to get, but at some point though you know you have your story down and it is complete.
We didn't really plan, shoot, edit in that order, we kind of shot, plan, edit, edit, edit, shoot, plan, plan edit edit. It was an iterative process and I think gave us something that feels like a tapestry or a collage about the delta blues rather than a story about one particular thing.
T: How has the making of this film changed you?
AF: I'm a much better filmmaker now than I was when I started, I have an appreciation for the south, especially Mississippi, that I didn't have before which I really cherish. The real truth is - that most of the people I spend time with now all came out of this project, they are my friends and associates - this is an entire cast of folks that I never would have met otherwise. My life feels so much richer because of this project because of all these terrific relationships that have come out of it.
T: What other sorts of projects have you worked on?
Delta Rising introduced me to Morgan Freeman and his business partner Bill Luckett. Bill, an amazing Renaissance kind of man, introduced me to Laura Bernieri (Next Stop Wonderland, Kettle of Fish) who is now one of my producer partners in this project, both Laura and Bill have really helped open a lot of doors for me.
We are currently working on a television show with Rob Long (writer/producer - Cheers) and Morgan about this town and the people that live there and how the history of place and time can influence the present. As for other projects we are in production on another music documentary called ToTimbuktu which is about Vieux Farka Toure (talented son of musical legend Ali Farka Toure) and his journey from Mali Africa (Timbuktu) to the US. We have also initiated a project called "Men in Green" about the Boston Celtics. Both of these projects I am working on with Laura Bernieri.
T: How was your film received at the Victoria Film Festival, where it was last played?
AF: The film screened there on February 1st to a sold out audience of 400 which was thrilling. I actually have a short 4 minute video that captures some of that feeling that is on the blog for the Big Sky Festival hosted by b-side. It is always nerve racking and thrilling to screen your own work in front of strangers and get the reaction. It was very positive and if you like documentary, and music you'll have a really good time with the film and that is what we tend to find.
The audiences really seem to like the film and what they pick up from it, you get your toe tapping and get to experience a place many people don't know too well. One comment a person made that I really appreciated was how much they enjoyed the intimate performances people gave us. That is particularly satisfying to me because that was something we purposely did - getting these amazing musicians to play us a song or two in their home, on their porch, on the street - we have a lot of blues club performance too but folks seem to like that intimate experience with the musicians up close and personal. It has been a really amazing journey and I hope that people at the festival enjoy it too.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
TRUCKEY: What are the perks for the volunteers who work long, arduous hours at the fest?
MEDLEY: The perks, for my beloved volunteers... I would have to say the camaraderie. There's a certain buzz in the air that time of year.
They do get a nice t-shirt (American Apparell again this year, I think), a ticket per shift and for those crazy few who sign up for 12 shifts - the VIP All-Access Pass!!! That is a huge time commitment of approximately 36 hours, but that's four hours easier than last year. With that pass, these crazed volunteers can hit the lounge in the morning for coffee and snacks, happy hours several of the afternoons and parties quite a few nights allowing them to maintain a steady buzz for the entire festival. Not to mention all the great films. Crap! It's fun!
The biggest perk is that I'm planning to sing My Funny Valentine before each screening on Valentine's Day, if time allows, to serenade my volunteers and the people out on dates. There will be so many people at films on dates with their sweethearts! This probably will not actually happen since I haven't even mentioned it to any of the powers that be... I'm a little shy, too.
T: If you had to do one of the volunteer positions for the fest, which would it be?
M: In the morning, I would probably have to choose the lounge... the filmmakers' lounge. It's tough to beat coffee, tea, pastries or something similar. The resident volunteer has to sample the wares to monitor the level of freshness...
I should be plugging the box office and will call. We need people in there selling tickets... the front line of the public interface, making change, swiping credit cards.
T: How long have you been working with Big Sky?
M: This is my third year at the festival.
T: How did you get involved?
M: Three years ago, I was still pretty new on the Missoula scene, trying to get involved in the community, meet people and find gainful employment in a tough town. I was on the verge of throwing myself off a cliff... I had been rejected from a grocery store hiring for a frozen food stocker. Come on, I have a degree! But, I didn't have any experience handling large quantities of frozen food. It was a dark time.
Anyway, this girl, Mary, mentioned that the festival was looking for volunteers. I had a lot of time on my hands, went in to talk with them, started signing up for a few blocks of time and ended up leaving with the distinguished title of VIP Liaison. which meant picking up directors at the airport and taking them out to buy nail files, Missoula's best burger and things like that.
Last year, I was encouraged to become the volunteer coordinator and here I am again.
T: What's the best thing, hands down, about working at Big Sky?
M: The best thing... it's that buzz, I suppose, not the caffeine/alcohol buzz, but the love/Pisces sort of buzz. These creative directors are coming to Missoula from all over the world and sharing their labors of love... these works of art that, in some cases, they have devoted years of their lives to making. And the crowd, while mostly made up of the lovely people of Missoula and surrounding areas, is made up of people from all over the country and the world, for that matter. It is a special event.
The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival wants you!!!
We need so many volunteers from Feb. 13 - 22, it's not funny! Well, maybe a little depending on your sense of humor.
I'm the volunteer coordinator and I need your help.
So, please, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll explain everything... EVERYTHING.
We need ushers, box office/will call, pass line, projectionists, lounge attendants and more!!!
Here's the site for the festival: http://www.bigskyfilmfest.org/
And this one has descriptions of the films being screened: http://bigsky.bside.com/2009/films
It'll be fun, you'll see some great films, meet interesting people.
Think about it and don't hesitate to get involved!
Tell your friends, colleagues and strangers about this great opportunity. Forward this message, so you and the recipients will be able to explain everything just by contacting me and it's possible that millions of dollars will appear in their bank accounts from Nigeria or the Philippines!
Monday, January 5, 2009
BIG SKY DOCS
2009 OFFICIAL FESTIVAL SELECTIONS
January 5, 2009
Missoula, Montana – The 2009 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival has announced the Official Selections for the annual 10-day event, February 13-22. Now in its sixth year, the 2009 installment includes 143 extraordinary films from more than 30 countries, a selection chosen from nearly 1000 submissions. The 2009 program is truly distinguished, offering the most diverse exhibition of work to ever screen under the Big Sky.
This year’s films cover the gamut of possibilities within the non-fiction form, with topics ranging from the ivory-billed woodpecker to art cars; from rock docs to opera; from Antarctica to Swaziland! Special presentations include retrospectives of filmmakers Ron Mann & Joe Berlinger (both in attendance) and a live musical accompaniment to silent film by the world renowned Alloy Orchestra.
Now expanded to 10 days, downtown Missoula’s historic Wilma Theatre, the 1100-seat venue that houses Montana's largest screen, once again hosts the visual immersion into a world where reality plays itself. With packed audiences of avid moviegoers, most films are accompanied by a Q&A with their respective filmmakers.
Screening passes are now available for purchase at bigskyfilmfest.org/ tickets.html.
A full schedule of events will be published later this week.
For more information, visit bigskyfilmfest.org
Or sign up for RSS feed at the Big Sky Blog bigskydocff.blogspot.com
2009 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Official Selections:
Documentary Feature Competition
At The Edge Of The World
Director: Dan Stone
Director: Harrod Blank
Director: Yishai Orian
Director: Dana Perry
Director: Joe Berlinger
Director: Nik Sheehan
Director: Kimberley Reed
Director: Brett Whitcomb
Director: Kim Longinotto
Documentary Short Competition
Director: Yoni Brook & Musa Syeed
A Day Late in Oakland
Director: Zachary Stauffer
The First Kid to Learn English from Mexico
Director: Peter Jordan
Director: David Teague
Director: Robin Burke
Pickin' & Trimmin'
Director: Matt Morris
Big Sky Award Competition
Carts of Darkness
Director: Murray Siple
Director: Noah Hutton
Ghost Mountain Experiment
Director: John McDonald
I Love Alaska
Directors: Lernert Engelberts & Sander Plug
In Place Out of Time
Director: Erin Hudson
Directors: Tracy Rector, Annie Silverstein, Nick Clark, Cody Cayou, Travis Tom
Directors: Travis Rummel & Ben Knight
Summer Sun Winter Moon
Director: Hugo Perez
Director: Ben Kempas
Director: Sean Roach
Before the Sea
Director: Charlene Music
Director: Eric Metzgar
Director: Meghan O'Hara
Director: Peter Jordan
Director: Reid Kuennen
Coober: A Desert Speedway Story
Directors: Caro Macdonald & Tanya Curnow
I Can See Everything
Directors: Kristine Samuelson & John Haptas
Director: Stewart Copeland
Reverse Graffiti Project
Director: Doug Pray
Roz & Joshua
Director: Charlene Music
The Secret Life of Beards
Director: Melanie Levy
Opening Night Film
Thriller in Manila
Director: John Dower
Free Screening Sponsored by HBO
Ron Mann Retrospective - Filmmaker In Attendance!
Comic Book Confidential
Imagine the Sound
Poetry in Motion
Tales of the Rat Fink
Joe Berlinger Retrospective - Filmmaker In Attendance!
Iconoclasts: Sean Penn & Jon Krakauer
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Woods
Paradise Lost 2: Revelations
Live Musical Accompaniment to the Classic Silent Film
South: Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition (1919)
Director : Frank Hurley
Performed by the World Renowned
Music Docs with Brendan Canty & Christoph Green - Filmmakers In Attendance!
Bob Mould: Circle of Friends
Burn to Shine: Seattle
Ashes of American Flags (Wilco Tour Film)
Director: Brett Ingram
The Way We Get By
Director: Aron Gaudet
Whatever it Takes
Director: Christopher Wong
OUT OF AFRICA SIDEBAR
Director: Stefan Lukacs
Milking the Rhino
Director: David E. Simpson
Director: Michael Davie
Today the Hawk Takes One Chick
Director: Jane Gillooly
Throw Down Your Heart
Director: Sascha Paladino
Directors: Benjamin Kirk Nielsen & Emil M. Morell
Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love
Director: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
(Plus three competition films, Bronx Princess and Rough Aunties)
International Documentary Challenge Showcase
Director: Sean Roach
Director: Eric Metzgar
Bend & Bow
Director: Maya Mumma
Director: Reid Kuennen
Director: Laurie Collins
Director: Kevin Thomas
Director: Ari Cohen Jetty
Director: Courtney Hermann
Meet the Freegans
Director: Travis Sheilds
Red Light Blues
Director: Erga Netz
Stick & Pound
Director: Tony Nguyen
Official Selections Screening Out Of Competition
10 Short Documentaries of My Childhood Home
Director: Dorothea Braemer
111 Degrees Longitude
Directors: Cindy Stillwell & Yuri Makino
Director: Stephanie Stender
Bloomfield or A Childhood Memory
Director: Eran Barak
Director: Mike Attie
Director: Joanne Nereuberg
The Bush Man
Director: Hanh Nguyen
Coney Island's for the Birds
Director: Alexis Neophytides
Director: Joe Taylor
Director: John Kane
Director: Patrick Robins
Director: John Nizzari
The Last Butcher in Little Italy
Director: Laura Terruso
Lessons in America Episode 17: Montana
Director: Andrew Sobey
Director: Dr. Robert Batcelor & Sari Gilbeert
Director: Mareike Wegener
The Mongolian Marmot
Director: Thomas Winston
Director: Lance Bauscher
Mrs. Henderson’s Kids
Director: Veena Rao
Director: Richard Rifkind & Carole Rifkind
No Strings Attached
Director: Lisa Whitmer
The Oldest Tree
Director: Dale Elrod
Director: Oksana Sokol
Director: Marryanne Christodoulou
Director: Jeremy Flores
Say Cheese: The Hamburger Harry Story
Director: Erin Szwejkowski
Secret: The Josephine Baker FBI Files
Director: Kathy Corley
Smile Boston Project
Director: David Tames
Water Paper Time
Director: Gretchen Hogue
Western Brothers Adventure Story
All of Us
Director: Emily Abt
Directors: Mathew Kaufman & Jon Hart
As Slow As Possible
Director: Scott Smith
Director: Johnny Symons
Director: Paul Devlin
Director: Michael Fountain
Director: Alison Murray
Director: Greg Woodland
Director: Ingeborg Jansen
Directors: Michael Afendakis, Laura Bernieri & Matt Goff
The Dhamma Brothers
Directors: Jenny Phillips, Anne Marie Stein & Andrew Kukura
Fire Under the Snow
Director: Makoto Sasa
Director: Scott Hamilton Kennedy
Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes
Director: Peter Rosen
Gogol Bordello: Never Stop
Director: Margarita Jimeno
Director: Jeanie Finlay
The Greening of Southie
Directors: Ian Cheney & Curtis Ellis
Guest of Cindy Sherman
Directors: Tom Donahue & Paul HO
Hotel Gramercy Park
Director: Douglas Keeve
I Think We're Alone Now
Director: Sean Donnelly
Director: Georg Koszulinski
In A Dream
Directors: Jeremy Yaches & Jeremiah Zagar
Director: Susan Gray
Director: Eric Metzgar
The Lord God Bird: The Enduring Quest for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
Director: George Butler
Lost in the Fog
Director: John Corey
Director: Dianna Dilworth
The Money Fix
Director: Alan Rosenblith
A Nashville State of Mind
Directors: John-Martin Vogel & Eric LaRocca Mainade
Number One With a Bullet
Director: Jim Dziura
One Bad Cat: The Reverend Albert Wagner Story
Director: Thomas Miller
Directors: Jennifer Brooke & Beatrice Alda
Song Sung Blue
Director: Greg Kohs
Director: Iris Olsson
Sync or Swim
Director: Cheryl Furjanic
Tattooed Under Fire
Director: Nancy Schiesari
That's My Time
Director: Adamm Liley
We Are Wizards
Director: Josh Koury
Who Does She Think She Is?
Director: Pamela T. Boll
Directors: Don Hardy & Dana Nachman
2009 Festival Sponsors
Bresnan Communications, HBO Documentary Films, Montana Film Office, The Washington Foundation, Montana PBS, Montana Public Radio, KGBA, Rockin' Rudy's, Missoula Art Museum, First Security Bank, NorthWestern Energy, The Independent, Sony, Media 100, Edgewater/Doubletree, Best Western Grant Creek Inn, Red Lion Inn Missoula, Campus Inn, Big Sky Brewery, Ten Spoon Winery, Thomas Kemper Soda, Porta Brace, Docurama, Vann's Electronics.