Monday, November 8, 2010

Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Announces 2011 Pitch Sessions

Two exciting pitch sessions will take place during the 8th Annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, an International Call and "Documenting the Big Sky" a special session focusing on films to be produced in Montana. Confirmed panelists include Yance Ford (Series Producer, POV/The American Documentary), William Marcus (General Manager of KUFM/Montana Public Television) Aaron Pruitt, Director of Programming (KUSM/Montana Public Television, and Kim Anderson (Humanities Montana). More participants will be added as they are confirmed. December 23 is the entry deadline for both sessions.

Here's all the details:

"Documenting the Big Sky" Pitch Session

February 16, 2011 - University Theater/University of Montana campus
Entry fee: FREE
Submission Deadline: December 23, 2010

Pitch your documentary work-in-progress (WIP) to Montana Public Television and other important documentary funders in Montana. The pitch session will be held on February 16, 2011 in the UC Theater on the University of Montana campus with a live audience of filmmakers, industry representatives, and students. Projects must have a Montana focus to be eligible. All non-fiction forms are acceptable including hybrid doc/narrative projects. Historical fiction and "docu-drama" projects are not eligible. Submit a brief (250 words maximum) project summary and an additional one-paragraph project status report via email. The project summary should concisely describe the focus of the film as well as a brief treatment which should include shooting format and any other relevant technical details and production credits (if known). The project status should describe the current state of the production (eg. pre-production, production, post, etc.) in some detail. A short (5 minutes maximum) sample reel of the work-in-progress may be submitted in addition to the written application. Work-in-progress reels may be submitted on-line only via vimeo,,, etc. Provide a direct link with your written application. Do not send DVD screeners as part of your application. A maximum of 15 projects will be selected to pitch on February 16, 2011. Selected projects will have 20 minutes to pitch their project and show a short sample (if available) for the panel. If selected to pitch, filmmakers will be required to pay an additional $50, which includes the right to pitch the selected project to the panel of broadcasters and funders. For an additional $50, participants will receive an All Access Pass for the 2011 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival ($250 value). Selected projects will be notified of their acceptance by January 10, 2011.

Confirmed Participants - William Marcus (General Manager of KUFM/Montana Public Television), Aaron Pruitt, Director of Programming (KUSM/Montana Public Television), Dawn McGee (High Stakes Foundation) and Kim Anderson (Humanities Montana).

Application materials must be submitted to Entry fee must be paid online. More info here.

International Documentary Pitch Session

February 17, 2011 - University Theater/University of Montana campus
Entry Fee: FREE
Submission Deadline: December 23, 2010

Pitch your documentary work-in-progress (WIP) to some of the top commissioning editors and funders for documentary film in North America. All documentary forms (eg. first person, direct cinema, observational, etc.) and all subjects are eligible to submit. The session will be held February 17, 2011 at the UC Theater on the University of Montana campus with a live audience of filmmakers, industry representatives, and students. Commissioning editors will have the opportunity to critique and comment on each pitch. A maximum of 15 projects will be accepted to pitch in this session. Submit a brief (250 words maximum) project summary and an additional one-paragraph project status report. The project summary should concisely describe the focus of the film as well as a brief treatment which should include intended length, shooting format and any other relevant technical details and production credits (if known). The project status should describe the current state of the production (eg. pre-production, production, post, etc.) in some detail. A short (5 minutes maximum) sample reel of the work-in-progress may be submitted in addition to the written application. Work-in-progress reels may be submitted on-line only via vimeo,,, etc. Do not send DVD screeners as part of your application. Selected projects will have 20 minutes to pitch their project and show a short sample (if available) for the panel. Selected projects will be required to pay an additional $150, which includes the opportunity to pitch and an All Access Pass to all events at the 2011 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival ($250 value). Selected projects will be notified of their acceptance by January 10, 2011.

Confirmed participants - Yance Ford (Series Producer, POV/The American Documentary), Kate Pearson (SVP Programming, The Documentary Channel).

Application materials must be submitted to Entry fee must be paid online. More info here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Announces Call For Entries

Missoula, Montana – The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, the premier venue for nonfiction film in the American West, is seeking submissions for its eighth annual event. From February 11-20, 2011 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

DVD (NTSC/PAL), VHS (NTSC/PAL), DVCAM (NTSC/PAL), HDV (NTSC), and miniDV (NTSC/PAL) accepted for preview.

Enter via

or download an entry form in pdf format

If you would like an entry form emailed to you in pdf format, send a request to

For more information visit

CRUDE filmmakers Berlinger & Bonfiglio Face Subpoena

We want to draw your attention to a troubling situation faced by two of our colleagues, Big Sky Alums Joe Berlinger and Mike Bonfiglio, the makers of the
film CRUDE, which screened at Big Sky in 2009. Please see below to read part of a correspondence I recently received from Mike Bonfiglio, the producer of CRUDE. Whatever support you can give them would be greatly appreciated.


Mike Steinberg
Festival Director


A few weeks ago, Joe Berlinger and I, as well as the "Crude" production companies, were served with subpoenas by Chevron, demanding that we hand over our 600 hours of outtakes, speculating that somewhere in our dailies they would find material that would help them in their lawsuit in Ecuador. We opposed the subpoena, and on May 6th, a judge ruled against us. We are appealing the decision, and many in the documentary community as well as other journalists have rallied to support us. The IDA issued an OPEN LETTER which has been signed by an extraordinary number of heavy-hitters of the doc world, from Michael Moore to Bill Moyers, Alex Gibney to Morgan Spurlock.

We would greatly appreciate it if you could circulate this petition to your list, and urge people to follow our story, which has the potential to adversely affect the landscape for our fellow documentary filmmakers for many years to come. We'll be updating our BLOG about the case as it happens.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Look at Iraq Through the Eyes of SEVERE CLEAR

We interview Kristian Fraga, a young filmmaker whose documentary, Severe Clear, plays at Big Sky on closing night, Sunday the 21st at 4pm.

BSDFF: Give me a little background on the film and how it came about.

KF: It was pretty interesting how this film came together. I was developing a completely different project when Severe Clear literally fell on my lap. Mike Scotti, the Marine our film is about, walked into NYU with a bag full of mini-DV tapes figuring some young filmmaker might find the footage interesting. He ended up bumping into a student who happened to be interning at our production company at the time, and a couple of days later we were all sitting down with Scotti watching his footage and talking about his experience. Right away I knew his was a story I very much wanted to tell.

BSDFF: What is your background in film?

KF: I’m a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a founding partner of Sirk Productions, a New York based film and television production company. Severe Clear is my second feature length documentary. My first, Anytown, USA, was theatrically released by Film Movement in 2005. To be honest, I’m a product of George Lucas , Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola so I never thought in a million years I would make documentaries. I’ve always wanted to direct space operas and Indiana Jones pictures, but as an independent filmmaker from New York, I’ve also been inspired by Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Woody Allen, and Martin Scorsese. For me it all comes down to the story and what’s the best way of telling that particular story. Whether it’s a documentary or a traditional narrative is irrelevant to me. As a filmmaker I’m not too caught up with being pigeonholed as a certain kind of director. These two last pictures happened to be docs because that was the right way to go. I’m currently writing my next feature, which is a narrative and there are other docs I would love to make. Once I fall in love with a story I’ll figure out how to get up on the screen.

BSDFF: Who is your audience for this film, ie who do you hope to reach?

KF: Obviously I’d love everybody to see Severe Clear. The reality of the situation is, this is a tough picture about a subject many people may not be ready to deal with right now. At the end of the day, Severe Clear is really a blue-collar film about these men getting up everyday and doing their job. It’s about what that job represents and everything that goes with a Marine being good at what he does— which is part of the inherent depth and complexity of Mike Scotti’s story. This film asks a lot from its audience and it isn’t a passive experience. We hope to reach an audience who is willing to sit back for 93 minutes and be open to going for a ride. The picture is a tough pill to swallow and it’s the kind of film that’ll stick with you well after you’ve left the theater.

BSDFF: What other festivals have you been to so far, and what is the upcoming schedule looking like?

KF: The film premiered at SxSw and we were an official selection at the Rome International Film Festival where were given a special award for cinematic excellence. Along with Big Sky, Severe Clear was also an official selection at: St. Louis Film Festival, San Diego Film Festival, Palm Beach International Film Festival, Lone Star International Film Festival, Salem Film Festival, IDA Docuweeks Showcase, and the New Films/New Filmmakers Series at the Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan. On top of the festivals coming up we’re releasing Severe Clear theatrically starting in NY and LA in March. So our upcoming schedule is pretty intense.

BDSFF: Do you have any mentors or idols that have helped you or inspired you?

KF: In terms of mentors and idols, I did mention earlier that I am a product of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola. For me, these are the three kings. I could go on and on about other filmmakers who have inspired me but those are the top guys along with Oliver Stone, Tim Burton, Alfred Hitchcock… I can go on and on. I just love film and when making Severe Clear inspiration would come from all sorts of places. I always turn to the films of Victor Fleming or Vincent Minnelli, two guys you’d never in a million years link to documentary filmmaking but their pacing, transitions, story structure, it all influences me.

BSDFF: Why documentary?

KF: Why a documentary? My answer is simply "why not?” It’s all about filmmaking. I’m always amazed at how people like to pigeonhole you within the industry. Certainly Severe Clear is a documentary and I understand, especially with festivals, why films have to be put into a particular category but I never sat down and thought, “well since Severe Clear is a documentary it has to be made this specific way.”

From Saving Private Ryan to Cloverfield, you’re seeing studio pictures using “documentary” techniques to strip away the gloss, allowing an audience to connect deeper with the material and feel the story. What I set out to do with Severe Clear was to take the raw mini-DV footage that Mike shot and put it together in the style of the traditional Hollywood narrative.

I think it’s the fusion of those two opposing styles that gives the film its energy and I think we’ve put something together that many people haven’t seen before. What’s funny was after one of the IDA screenings in LA an audience member came up to me after the screening and said “Wow…that was like a real movie,” as if a Documentary is not a “real movie.” But I totally got what he was saying. Filmgoers have been trained through the years to expect something specific from a Documentary as opposed to a narrative. More and more those lines are bleeding together and it’s exciting because as filmmakers we’re allowed a greater freedom to make the pictures we want to make and not have to worry (so much) about getting labeled as a certain kind of filmmaker.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tap Water to the Rescue

There have been handfuls of films released in the past couple years addressing environmental issues--from Food, Inc. to Gasland to King Corn to An Inconvenient Truth--but none of them have tackled the issue of water as aggressively, as honestly and as artistically as Stephanie Soechtig and Jason Lindsey did in 2009's Tapped.

Is access to clean drinking water a basic human right, or a commodity to be bought and sold like any other article of commerce? This feature is an unflinching examination of the big business of bottled water. This timely documentary is a behind-the-scenes look into the unregulated and unseen world of an industry that aims to privatize and sell back the one resource that ought never to become a commodity: our water. Using interviews, quirky graphics and honest imagery, Tapped is made someone who really, truly, genuinely cares about this issue.

This fast-paced, well-narrated, and highly educational film looks at the illegal bottling practices of Nestle, cancer-causing factories and the overall state of the country's tap water. Tapped is definitely a flick that will leave viewers dying to learn more.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

2010 Festival Winners Announced!

The judges of the seventh annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival have selected this year’s award winning films in the four competitive categories: Best Feature, Big Sky Award, Best Short Film and Best Mini Doc (under 15 minutes). The awards were announced Thursday evening at the awards ceremy at the Loft in downtown Missoula.


Best Feature: Lixin Fan's Last Train Home
Artistic Vision for Best Feature: Josh Fox's Gasland

Big Sky Award: Joseph Aguirre's Next Year Country
Artistic Vision for Big Sky Award: Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash's Sweetgrass

Best Short Film: Charlene Music's Danza Del Viejo Inmigrante
Artistic Vision for Best Short: Kelly Anderson's Never Enough

Mini-Doc (under 15 minutes) Award: Paramita Nath's Found
Artistic Vision for Mini-Doc: Tony Donoghue's A Film About My Parish-6 Farms

There were also four Programmer’s Choice Awards, awarded by the Big Sky
programming staff. Michael Angus’s Salt and Robert Drew’s The Sun Ship Game both
received awards for Excellence in Cinematography. Rainer Komer’s Milltown, Montana
received an award for Excellence in Editing. And Briar March’s There Once Was An
Island was awarded the Natural Facts Award for its artistic rendering of a vital
environmental issue (climate change) and its effect of human life.

The Best Feature and Big Sky Award films will receive a guaranteed broadcast deal from
Free Speech TV. Both shorts categories will receive a broadcast guarantee and generous
licensing fee from The Documentary Channel.
Several of the award winning films will play again at the Wilma Theatre over the closing
weekend of the festival. The schedule is as follows:

Friday, February 19 at 7:30
Danza Del Viejo Inmigrante
Never Enough
A Film About My Parish – 6 Farms
Dark Light: The Art of Blind Photographers*
Anonymous Rebellion*
(* Rescreened due to technically difficulties)

Saturday February 20 at 7:30
Next Year Country
Milltown, Montana

Sunday February 21 at 8:00
Last Train Home

This year's jury: Jeanie Finlay, Cliff Froehlich, Tim Huffman, Thomas Phillipson, Doug Pray, Rick Prelinger, Gordon Quinn, Shirley K. Sneve, Richard Saiz

Doug Pray Plays the Hits

Documentary filmmaker Doug Pray has made movies about surfers, truck drivers, graffiti artists, hip hop DJ's, grunge rockers and advertising gurus. But while his maverick subjects vary in profession, Pray says they all play roles as "fiercely independent individuals" in search of the certain rush that comes with defying the status quo.

"They're all celebrating what is meaningful," he says, "but they're working in different ways.

To continue Big Sky's annual tradition of showcasing a collection of work by a distinguished documentary filmmaker, Pray's retrospective kicks off today with his most recent work, Art & Copy. The 2009 film deals with the creative minds behind some of the most famous advertising campaigns ever. Lee Clow of Apple, Dan Wieden of Nike and George Lois of Tommy Hilfiger, among others, discuss their work and how they approached the task of successfully selling a product to an entire society.

What this film ISN'T, says Pray, is a look at the 98% of what he calls bad, manipulative mediocre and demeaning advertising that exists today. Nor is it a social critique or an attack on advertising companies. What it IS, however, is a "celebration of that rare 2% of really good advertising that can actually inspire people."

The dozen or so artists interviewed in the film were all given one arduous task: to create a reason for people to buy a certain product. This movie explores their passions, methodologies and reasons behind working like they did. The question here is: "When you are given a job, how can you do it in a way that's better and more interesting?"

"Advertising isn't going away," says Pray. So why not do it well?

The subjects of Pray's work may at first glance seem divergent. But through his observant lens, the films explore the known (and unknown) boundaries of their respective subcultures and feature the top tier of practitioners with the group, those that have stepped fully into the fold and aren't afraid to look back.

These inspiring portraits of artists, revealed in films like Hype! (about the grunge scene in Seattle in the late 80's, early 90's), Scratch (about Hip-Hop Dj's), Veer (about 6 Londonites), Feel Your Heart Race (about NASCAR nation), Surfwise (about a family of surfers), Big Rig (a look at America through the eyes of truck drivers), Infamy (a look at graffiti artists) and Art & Copy, will all be screened starting today at the Wilma. SCHEDULE HERE.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sweetgrass Gets Monster Turnout

Whether it's ranchers or farmers, locals or urbanites, the crowd here tonight at the Wilma is KILLER. And it's all for a little film by Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor called Sweetgrass. The theatre is packed and the energy is high, all in anticipation of one of the festival's major draws.
Don't you wish you were here?

Sweetgrass and Let Your Feet Do the Talkin' Deliver Tonight!

The 6th day of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival delivers the most talked about film of the festival: Sweetgrass. The film mercilessly follows the cowboys of the American West on their annual trip into the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains with their sheep. This astonishingly beautiful yet unsparing film reveals a world in which nature and culture, animals and humans, vulnerability and violence are all intimately meshed. Heralded as being "majestic," "breathtaking," "bracing" and "astounding," and reviewed by such publications as the New York Times, Variety and Slate, this film will make its Montana premiere in the historic Wilma Theatre on Wednesday at 7.30pm.

Stewart Copeland's newest short film will show with today's Shorts Program, "Some Dreamers."

Copeland won for Best Mini-Doc for his film "Jennifer" at the 2009 festival, and his films are proven to be some of the festival faves.

Check out "Let Your Feet Do the Talkin,'" a short film about Buck dancing in the South, at the Wilma Theatre on Wednesday at the 5.45 Shorts Program.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Historic Wilma

Great Photos up at

The Mormons Cut It Out in Cleanflix

Cleanflix is a documentary about the phenomenon started by the Mormons in Utah who edit violence, sex and profanity from certain films so they are "clean" enough for their people to watch. Is this sanitization process acceptable? What about the artists whose films are being censored?

Josh Ligairi of Cleanflix, screening as a U.S. Premiere Tuesday night at 7.45pm, talks with Big Sky Film Fest about his connections to the Mormon culture, his struggle with objectivity and the relationships he fostered with his subjects.

BS: How did you hear about this subject matter of censored videos?

JL: We both lived in Utah when we decided to make the film, and edited movies were kind of in their hayday. You couldn't miss them. Andrew had a lot of experiences with them in college; his roommates watched them all the time. I think seeing Steven Soderbergh's Traffic edited, which is one of his favorite films, was a pretty traumatic experience. I had never actually seen one before we started the film, but it was a subject that interested me a great deal. For me, the most interesting aspect when we began was the notion of self-censorship.

BS: Are you Mormon? Did you grow up around Mormons?

JL: We both grew up Mormon, but not in Utah. We both moved around a lot growing up, Andrew in places like Georgia and Michigan, me in places like California and Idaho. We both eventually made it to Utah.

BS: What drove you to make a film about this topic? Was there a personal connection?

JL: Neither of us were supporters of edited movies. We both had Mormon heritage and we were both filmmakers (not to mention huge cinephiles), so all of that played into it. However, I'm not sure either of us felt any specific personal connection. For me, I just saw a story and it was a story that I knew I could tell. Still, I do think our experience with Mormon culture was a huge help when making the film.

First, we understood the mindset of the people who were editing the movies, even though we didn't necessarily agree with their point of view. I think it would be really easy to paint this issue black and white, but I feel like being able to empathize with the culture made for a much stronger, much more nuanced film. For some people that is a problem with the film. They want to feel superior to these people whose actions they disagree with. We didn't want it to be that simple.

The other advantage is that we had access. I think these guys would have been a lot more suspicious of outsiders than they were of us. That familiarity with the culture gave us a lot of freedom and opened up a lot of doors that a complete outsider could have never opened.

BS: Why do you feel this topic is an important one to show the public?

JL: There are so may issues at play here. First, again, it is just an interesting story. It is entertaining. It is real human drama. If you wrote it, nobody would believe it.

Second, the film deals with questions for which there are no easy answers. Should corporations be able to tell us how to use their products if we have purchased them? Is it different if those products are also art? What if censorship comes into play? These are really grey areas that I struggled with for three years while we made the movie and I want the audience to struggle with them, too, because they are not going away once our film is over. As we become immersed in the digital age, people are going to be re-mixing and re-mashing their media in ways that we haven't yet imagined. How will artists respond? How will copyright holders respond? Cleanflix could be seen as a little test case of things to come.

BS: Where is most of the film shot?

JL: Well, 90% of the film was shot in Utah Valley, commonly known as "Happy Valley." We also went to California, Idaho, New York, and Washington DC during our journey, but we kept coming back to Utah. There were edited movies in other places, and there are certainly similar attitudes in other places, but, as I've said a lot when talking about the film, we focused on Mormons in Utah because it took that culture to create edited movies.

BS: What do the subjects think of your film? Have they seen it?

JL: Unfortunately, we haven't yet been able to show the film to many of our subjects. We have contacted Daniel Thompson, who kind of emerges as the main character in the second half of the film about showing it to him. Hopefully that will happen this week. Ray Lines and Allan Erb, the main guys behind CleanFlicks, don't watch R-rated movies, so we plan on getting them a toned-down version as soon as we have time to create it.

BS: Do you feel as if you shot the film objectively?

JL: When telling a story there is no such thing as complete objectivity, but we really made an honest effort to tell it like it was. Which was hard because you start to form relationships with your subjects when you spend two years filming them, you become friends and you feel bad including footage that you know may hurt them, but we always approached Cleanflix with strict journalistic integrity, and I hope they will all appreciate that as much as Robert did.

BS: Did many of your subjects comply immediately or did they resist your interviews?

JL: It was really hard to get some of these interviews and even harder to find out the truth behind what they were telling us. A lot of these guys were operating illegally and we were trying to figure out how the whole operation worked. Sometimes I am a little sad that we present the information so matter-of-factly because, until the film came out, we were literally the only people that knew most of this stuff. In the end, we made the choice to keep ourselves out of the film, and I am glad that we did.

BS: Why documentary?

JL: I love being transported to a part of the world that I have never been to. And I mostly appreciate a filmmaker who is willing to stay back behind the camera and let the subjects speak for themselves. Cleanflix shines a light on a very specific segment of the culture and I think there is a lot to be gleaned from that. The more specific it is, the more universal it becomes.

You can find more information and view the Cleanflix teaser trailer at

*images take from

Tuesday's Flicks

Three extraordinary programs featuring everything from pilots to Mormons to Montana highlight day five of the festival, presented at the historic Wilma Theatre in downtown Missoula.

The Sun Ship Game directed by Robert Drew Director in attendance
World Premiere
85minutes 5.45pm

Drew, the founder and creator of the modern documentary movement - Cinema Verite, as it became known - began his career in the early 1960s and has since produced and directed films including seminal work such as PRIMARY (1960) CRISIS (1963) and ON THE ROAD WITH DUKE ELLINGTON (1974).

THE SUN SHIP GAME (1969) is about George Moffat and Gleb Derujinsky, master glider pilots in competition for the 1969 U.S. National Soaring Championship in Marfa, Texas. Suppressed for over 40 years due to copyright issues, the presentation of THE SUN SHIP GAME, marks the World Premier public screenings of a lost masterpiece.


Cleanflix directed by Joshua Ligairi and Andrew James Director in attendance

US Premiere and Feature Competition nominee



This film that hits close to home geographically deals with Utah Mormons and their "sanitization" of violence, sex, profanity and nudity in DVD's. Outraged bythe unauthorized editing of their work, prominent filmmakers began to speak out, thrusting the two groups into an intense legal, theoretical, and moral battle that would last six years before coming to a shocking conclusion. CLEANFLIX explores the ethical questions raised by the marketing of morality by taking audiences behind the scenes of the sanitized movie industry and shedding light on the Mormon culture that spawned it.


*Fire in the Garden and *Next Year Country

Big Sky Award Competition nominees and World Premieres

directed by Montanans Zach Kienitz/Alex Thomas and Joseph Aguirre
15 minutes and 56 minutes
Directors for both films in attendance

Also relevant to the area is Fire in the Garden, directed by Montana natives who examine thought-provoking questions and issues of the American West. Intelligently shot and narrated, this short (15 minutes) is having its world premiere at Big Sky Film Fest.

Next Year Country (56 minutes) looks at three Montana families who hire a rainmaker to bring water to their drought-stricken farms. As their way of life disappears, they somehow remain optimistic. By way of interviews and beautifully shot landscapes, their heartfelt story is conveyed. Also a world premiere.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Buzz

Here's a few of the movies people have been buzzing about.

Monday: There Once Was an Island, The DOC Challenge, and Gasland
Tuesday: Panorama Ephemera and Cleanflix
Wednesday: Shorts Program "Some Dreamers," Sweetgrass and Pinned
Thursday: Wounded Knee and Art and Copy
Friday: Full Signal and One Fast Move or I'm Gone
Saturday: Smile Till It Hurts, Tapped and Special When Lit
Sunday: Racing Dreams and Severe Clear and the AWARDS SCREENING

Festival Video #1

The 2010 festival life. from Big Sky Documentary Film Fest on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day in Russia

Man With a Movie Camera will play Sunday night at 8pm. The avant-garde, silent film by Dziga Vertov is a 1929 montage of images of every-day life.

But while the film is great, the soundtrack is even better.

The Alloy Orchestra, a nationally-renowned trio who accompanies silent film, will play their original score to the movie.

The best part about this orchestra is their rack-o-junk, a collection of, er...things that make music, which may include any or all of the following:

2 or 3 gongs
4 horseshoes
2 truck springs
random bells
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

Alloy never fails to put on a good show, so come and show your love, because it is, after all, Valentine's Day.

Visual Pleasure: An Interview with Archivist Rick Prelinger

What makes Rick Prelinger such an interesting filmmaker is his dislike for production and his affinity for editing. His goal is simple: to share with the world years of unseen archival footage that deals with everything from agriculture to advertising, conservation to California, and probes to plastics. What he's brought to the festival are three films, two of which he made especially for Big Sky.

Prelinger's interest lies in taking films apart as well as the collection of original elements--elements like home movies that get the viewer back to the first generation of production where one can look through the eyes of the so-called "naïve maker." Prelinger says that home movies leave "room for the unconscious" and thinks it fantastic "when you find an uninhibited filmmaker" like those who shoot the films.

Besides making collections to show on screen, Prelinger's company not only sells stock footage through Getty images, but they also run a library out of San Francisco where the public is free to capture their collection of print images by way of camera, copy machine or scan.

"It's counter-intuitive to give things away," says Prelinger, "but it's life-changing; it creates great collaborations."

Archives Meet the People (Saturday 13th at 1.15pm) and America: From Capitalist Realism to Consumer Republic (Monday 15th 11.15am). His third, Panorama Ephemera, was made five years ago, and shows on Tuesday the 16th at 2pm.

Friday, February 12, 2010

We need Volunteers! Can you help?

The list below has the dates and times of shifts with vacancies. The final column is the number of volunteers needed to fully staff the shift. Any help you can lend would be appreciated. E-mail if you are available.

13-Feb 12:30p-3:45p BoxOffice 1
13-Feb 10:15p-close Operations 2
14-Feb 6:15p-9:30p Operations 5
14-Feb 9p-close Operations 2
15-Feb noon-3:30p Operations 1
17-Feb 9a-1p Lounge 1
18-Feb 1:30p-3:45p Operations 1
19-Feb 1:30p-5p BoxOffice 1
21-Feb 9:30a-12:30p Operations 1
22-Feb noon-4p Lounge 4

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

BSDFF Education Outreach

We believe documentaries are so awesome that we bring directors of our films right to the kids. We show the flick then do a discussion after, presenting students with topics and ideas they may not have been exposed to otherwise. Here's a list of the films and their directors that are being featured at schools around the area. Nice work to our Education Director, Nicole Payton, and thanks to the directors for taking time to chat with young Missoulians.

Andrew Wainrib of Cohen on the Bridge at Hellgate HS
Jan Shelby, Stewart Copeland and Mike Workman at Big Sky HS
Briar March of There Once Was an Island at Big Sky HS
Chico Colvard of Family Affair to UM *
Briar March of There Once Was an Island at Sentinel HS
Tracy Rector of Unreserved at BSHS
Tracy Rector of Unreserved at Willard HS
Andrew James of Cleanflix at Big Sky
Tracy Rector of Unreserved at Arlee HS & MS
Richard Boehm of Sold American at UM
Steward Copeland of Let Your Feet Do the Talkin' at Sentinel HS
Patrick Norman of Pinned at Big Sky HS
Tracy Rector of Unreserved at UM
Rainer Komers of Milltown, Montana at Sentinel HS *
Stewart Copeland of Let Your Feet Do the Talkin' and Maria Foritz Morse at Hellgate HS
Talal Jabari of Full Signal at Big Sky HS *
Patrick Norman of Pinned at Sentinel

*Still tentative

Uke-can Do It!

We interview Tony Coleman, co-director of Mighty Uke, playing opening night (Friday the 12th) at the fest.

BS: What made you interested in making this film? Do you have a musical background? Did you simply find it an engaging story you wanted to tell?

TC: I was a professional musician in my salad days, but got in film-making so I wouldn't starve. My big sister was a nursery school teacher and played ukulele for her kids. She passed away about a decade ago and I inherited her ukulele. The music coming out the darn thing was so joyful, I couldn't put it down. When I started searching the net for more info about it, I discovered this secret world of players and fans that just kept growing and growing. My partner Marg and I had been looking for a project to work on together and voila, MIGHTY UKE presented itself to us.

BS: Any interesting tidbits about the film?

TC: We originally intended to make a short film about the revival of the instrument. Then one day we were in a coffee shop in our hometown Toronto having our morning espresso when documentarian Ron Mann walks in. Jacked up on caffeine I shamelessly introduced myself and started blabbing on about this uke film we were making. Ron was intrigued and asked us to send him what we had. He liked it and suggested that he could get some broadcasters interested. Not long after, we had two broadcast deals and real money to make the first definitive doc about the ukulele.

When we started this film a couple of years ago, one of the first things we did was set up a google news alert for the word "ukulele". At first, we would get one or two notices a week, telling us that the word had appeared in a newspaper or magazine. Today we get between 10 and twenty a day.

Marg and I shot, recorded, edited, animated, and produced the film in our living room in HD and surround sound. I still marvel that this is all possible with a Mac and a couple of very affordable HD cameras.

BS: Where else is the film showing this year?

TC: Toronto, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Honolulu, New York, Melbourne Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan and many more.

BS: Do you, in fact, play the uke?

TC: I do play and have had the opportunity to lift the tricks of some of the greats of the instrument in our film. I would edit with the uke within arms reach. Marg had no musical background but started playing because of the film. Now she is a wonderful player with her own rhythm and style.

BS: Why documentary?

TC: I have edited feature films, tv shows, music video and documentaries for the CBC in Canada. I find docs to be the most creative and interesting of all of these types of media. The magic happens in the edit suite to a much greater degree.

Mighty Uke, a film about the resurgence of ukulele playing, will screen this Friday at 10pm.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Festival Passes Available

Pick up All Access & All Screening Passes online HERE

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Robert Drew added to Big Sky line up

This just in...

Documentary legend Robert Drew will present a special screening of THE SUN SHIP GAME at the 2010 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

Drew, the founder and creator of the modern documentary movement - Cinema Verite, as it became known - began his career in the early 1960s when he formed Drew Associates, and hired freelance cameramen and filmmakers, some of whom, such as D.A. Pennebaker, Richard Leacock and Albert Maysles, went on to define the form. For over 50 years, Drew has produced and directed films including seminal work such as PRIMARY (1960) CRISIS (1963) and ON THE ROAD WITH DUKE ELLINGTON (1974).

Unavailable in any form until now, Drew's 1969 film THE SUN SHIP GAME about George Moffat and Gleb Derujinsky, master glider pilots in competition for the 1969 U.S. National Soaring Championship in Marfa, Texas, will screen at BSDFF on Tuesday, Feb 16, 2010 at 5:45 PM. The film features breathtaking photography and uncommon intimacy, voyaging with both pilots into the sky at a regional contest in Vermont and into wild weather with eighty three other competitors in Marfa, Texas. Through eight days of hard flying in skies alternately filled with brilliant beauty and black violence, their two approaches arrive at a dramatic conclusion and one of them is named the U.S. Champion. Suppressed for over 40 years due to copyright issues, the presentation of THE SUN SHIP GAME, marks the World Premier public screenings of a lost masterpiece. Robert Drew will be on hand for Q&A following the screening.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Calendars Ready!

Start planning your fest with the FESTIVAL SCHEDULE now!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Follow Us!

Won't you please?
From those Missoula residents to filmmakers in Thailand to small fests in Ann Arbor, MI., @BigSkyDoc Twitter is your source for info during the fest! Follow now! Or forever hold your peace.
You want the Buffalo!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Big Sky Announces Official Selections for 2010 Festival

Big Sky Documentary Film Festival has announced the Official Selections for the seventh annual festival in Missoula, Montana, February 12-21, 2010. Culled from 1000 entries, the ten-day event, which will be held at the historic Wilma Theatre in downtown Missoula, features 130 short and length non-fiction films from over thirty countries.

Special features at this years event include Indigenous Visions: Film By Native American Filmmakers (Sponsored by The Academy Foundation, Humanities Montana, The Native American Studies Department of The University of Montana, ITVS & NAPT) a retrospective of films by prolific filmmaker Doug Pray (Art & Copy, Scratch, Hype!) a presentation of ephemeral documentary shorts by archivist Rick Prelinger, and live musical accompaniment to Dziga Vertov’s Soviet propaganda classic Man With A Movie Camera (1929), performed by Alloy Orchestra.

Along with parties, receptions, panel discussions, industry events and filmmaker visits to area high schools and university classrooms, the festival anticipates an audience of 10,000 for this year’s event.

Official Selections:

Opening Night Film (sponsored by HBO Documentary Films)

Sergio (Dir. Greg Barker)

Feature Competition

Antoine (Dir Laura Bari)
Cleanflix (Dir. Andrew James & Joshua Ligairi)
Family Affair (Dir. Chico Colvard)
Full Disclosure (Dir. Brian Palmer)
Gasland (Dir. Josh Fox)
H2Oil (Dir. Shannon Walsh)
Deep Down (Dir. Jen Gilomen & Sally Rubin)
There Once Was an Island (Dir. Briar March )
Last Train Home (Dir. Lixin Fan)
Pinned (Dir. Patrick Norman & Mike Norman)
Special When Lit (Dir. Brett Sullivan)

Big Sky Award Competition

Fire in the Garden (Dir. Zach Kienitz)
Joseph (Dir. Andy Wilson)
Milltown, Montana (Dir. Rainer Komers)
Next Year Country (Dir. Joseph Aguirre)
Sweetgrass (Dir. Ilisa Barbash & Lucien Castaing-Taylor)
Unreserved (Dir. Tracy Rector)

Short Film Competition

Born Sweet (Dir. Cynthia Wade)
Cohen on the Bridge - The Entebbe Rescue (Dir. Andrew Wainrib)
El Loco De La Catedral (Dir. James Rogan)
Danza Del Viejo Inmigrante (Dir. Charlene Music)
Let Your Feet Do the Talkin' (Dir. Stewart Copeland)
My Name is Sydney (Dir. Melanie Levy)
Never Enough (Dir. Kelly Anderson)
Salt (Dir. Michael Angus)
Team Taliban (Dir. Benjamin Kegan)

Mini-Doc Competition (under 15 min)

Close To Home (Dir. Theo Rigby)
A Film from My Parish: 6 Farms (Dir. Tony Dognoghue)
Fledgling (Dir. Tony Gault & Elizabeth Henry)
Found (Dir. Paramita Nath)
Ginseng Empire (Dir. Ryan Spence)
Heartland Transport (Dir. Cody Stokes)
Notes On The Other (Dir. Sergio Oksman)
The Reed Trains (Vozovi Svirac i) (Dir. Amir Husak)
Richmond (Dir. Christoph Rainer)
A Sentence Apart (Dir. Jason Sussberg & Theo Rigby)
Shelter (Dir. Jason Sussberg)
Simple Nature (Dir. David Alvarado)
Trash-Out (Dir. Maria Fortiz-Morse)

Special Programming

Indigenous Visions: Films By Native American Filmmakers

Century of Genocide (Dir. Rosemary Gibbons)
Indian (Dir. Darryl Nepinak)
Miss Navajo (Dir. Billy Luther)
Reel Injun (Dir. Neil Diamond)
Trail Of Tears (Dir. Chris Eyre)
Trudell (Dir. Heather Rae)
Unreserved (Dir. Tracy Rector)
Weaving Worlds (Dir. Bennie Klain)
Wounded Knee (Dir. Stanley Nelson)

Doug Pray Retrospective

Art & Copy
Big Rig
Feel Your Heart Race

Mr. Prelinger’s Amazing Archive

A sampling of films from the Prelinger Archives, a collection of 60,000 advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur films - artistic, historical and cultural oddities ranging from propaganda to artist bios, health class films, civil defense instructional films, highway safety scare flicks and more. Hosted by Rick Prelinger

Man With The Movie Camera (Dir. Dziga Vertov)

With Live Musical Accompaniment by the world renown Alloy Orchestra

Selections from The 2009 International Documentary Challenge (Doc Challenge)

200 Block (Dir. Andrew Sobey & Kate Lain)
Dark Material (Dir. Maile Martinez & Lane Stroud)
Forty Foot (Dir. Leticia Agudo, Aoibheann O’Sullivan & Paul McGrath)
Fragile Ground (Dir. Polar Star Films)
The Greasy Pole” (Dir. Emile Doucette, Tom Papows, Michael Pallazola
A Healing Art (Dir. Ellen Frick)
Lorelei Lee (Dir. Simone Grudzen & Jesse Kerman)
Pipe Dream (Dir. Lindsie Reitz)
Time Well Spent (Dir. Jon Miller, Alice Chang, Grace Statwick & Stanton Wong)
Uncommon Sense (Dir. Tonya Easbey & John Ansotegui)
The Violin Maker (Dir. Greg Brotherton)
Wu Tang Gran (Dir. Patrick Carr)

Big Sky Youth Program Films

AERIE:Internationally Connecting (Dir. Makenzie Enich)
An Anonymous Rebellion (Dir. Michael Workman)

New Doc City: Non-Fiction Films From Around the World


Aeric: Internationally Connected (Dir. Mackenzie Enich )
An Anonymous Rebellion (Dir. Michael Workman )
Arresting Ana (Dir. Lucie Schwartz)
Barber's Dozen (Dir. Tara Manandhar)
A Circle and Three Lines (Dir. Jan Selby)
Les Grands Penseurs (Great Thinkers) (Dir. Karina Garcia Casanova)
Long Distance (Dir. Moritz Siebert)
Mezzanotte Obscura (Dir. Lori Petchers)
Presidio Modelo (Dir. Pablo Alvarez-Mesa)
Sense of Sport (Dir. Creda Wilson)
The Commoners (Dir. Jessica Bardsley & Penny Lane)
The Damned (Dir. Till Passow)

65 Red Roses (Dir. Nimisha Mukerji)
9500 Liberty (Dir. Annabel Park & Eric Byler)
An American Journey (Dir. Philippe Seclier)
Anne Perry Interiors (Dir. Dana Linkiewicz)
Breath Made Visible (Dir. Ruedi Gerber)
Children of the Amazon (Dir. Denise Zmekhol)
Chuck Close (Dir. Marion Cajori)
Dark Light: The Art of Blind Photographers (Dir. Neil Leifer)
Freedom of Space (Dir. Steve Olpin & Tim Irwin)
Full Signal (Dir. Talal Jabari)
Garbage Dreams (Dir. Mai Iskaner)
Ghost Bird (Dir. Scott Crocker)
Girls on the Wall (Dir. Heather Ross)
Good Fortune (Dir. Landon Van Soest)
Intangible Asset #82 (Dir. Emma Franz)
Journey From Zansker (Dir. Fredrick Marx)
Junior (Dir. Jenna Rosher)
La Danse - Le ballet de l'Opéra de Paris (Dir. Frederick Wiseman)
The Last One(Dir. Neal Hutcheson)
Mi Chacra (My Land) (Dir. Jason Burlange)
Mighty Uke (Dir. Tony Coleman)
Mine (Dir. Geralyn Pezanoski)
My Name Is Smith (Dir. James Allen Smith)
Neil Young Trunk Show (Dir. Jonathan Demme)
Neshoba (Dir. Micki Dickoff & Tony Pagano)
No Greater Love (Dir. Michael Whyte)
Nollywood Babylon (Dir. Ben Addelman & Samir Mallal)
One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur (Dir. Curt Worden)
Only When I Dance (Dir. Beadie Finzi)
Orgasm Inc. (Dir. Liz Canner)
Panorama Ephemera (Dir. Rick Prelinger)
Prisoner of Her Past (Dir. Gordon Quinn & Jerry Blumenthal)
Racing Dreams (Dir. Marshall Curry)
Severe Clear (Dir. Kristian Fraga)
Smile 'Til It Hurts: The Up With People Story (Dir. Lee Storey)
Sold American (Dir. Richard Boehm)
Sons of a Gun (Dir. Greg O'Toole & Rivkah Medow)
Super Art Market (Dir. Joran Soloman)
Sweet Crude (Dir. Sandy Cioffi)
Tapped (Dir. Stephanie Soechtig)
Tehran Has No More Pomegranates (Dir. Massouo Bakhshi)
The Tiger Next Door (Dir. Camilla Calamandrei)
Until the Light Takes Us (Dir. Aaron Aites, & Audrey Ewell)
Waiting For Hockney (Dir. Julie Checkoway)
Who Killed Chea Vichea? (Dir. Bradley Cox)
Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs The New York Knicks (Dir. Dan Klores)

Official Sponsors of the 2010 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, HBO Documentary Films, Sony Electronics, Humanities Montana, The Montana Film Office, Morris & Helen Silver Foundation, The L.E.A.W. Family Foundation, Northwest Energy, First Security Bank, Montana Environmental Information Center, Green Light, Kleen Kanteen, Clark Fork Coalition, The Documentary Channel, ITVS, Native American Public Telecommunications, Rocky Mountain School of Photography, Missoula Art Museum, Montana Pubic Television, The Missoula Independent, Montana Public Radio, Blossom Bed & Breakfast, Red Lion Inn, Holiday Inn, Doubletree, Best Western Grant Creek, Campus Inn, Stay at the Wilma, Motel 6, Docurama, Big Sky Brewery, Kettlehouse, Thomas Kemper Soda.