Saturday, February 19, 2011

Stories About Writers

Our last shorts program of the festival features stories about writers, from Henry Miller to David Rubin and a young Ugandan boy to local Sheryl Noethe of the Missoula Writing Collaborative. This Writer's Block is sponsored by Fact & Fiction bookstore, the Morris and Helen Silver Foundation and Humanities Montana.

Writer's Block SHORTS PROGRAM plays at NOON on SUNDAY, February 20th.

HENRY MILLER: ASLEEP AND AWAKE features the then-81-year-old author sharing ideas about life, writing, sex, spirituality, nightmares and New York.

NOTES FROM A POET AND A ONE-EYED CAT is about the founding of the Missoula Writer's Collaborative and Sheryl Noethe's passtion to spread the love of writing to future generations.

RADIOGRAFIA DUN AUTOR DE TEBEOS journeys through the imagination of comic artist David Rubin as he is being filmed for a documentary.

UNEARTHING THE PEN tells the story of a young Ugandan boy's desire for education in the face of a 40-year-old curse on the written word.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chuck Workman Brings Knowledge of FIlm to Big Sky

Chuck Workman arrived at the Missoula Art Museum on Thursday night straight from the airport, ready to speak to a crowd about the short film he screened there--a montage of films whose directors are all members of the Directors Guild of America. BSDFF director Mike Steinberg described Workman's knowledge of film as "encyclopedic," a talent that has earned him an Academy Award and numerous Emmy nominations.

Friday afternoon Workman was a guest speaker to students at UM, talking through several movies clip by clip, discussing why directors make certain choices in terms of camera angles and aesthetics--poignant decisions that have made these moments the quintessential ones audiences cling to the most.

Big Sky is delighted to welcome 2011 retrospective artist, Chuck Workman for a guided tour of his cinematic and countercultural oeuvre. Workman who has been making films since 1967 has produced films for the Motion Picture Academy, the Motion Picture Association of America, CBS, Disney World, Turner Broadcasting, and PIECES OF SILVER for Eastman Kodak and the Director’s Guild of America. The six film program includes films about cinema, writing and the arts, and features his newest feature Visionaries and his Academy Award winning film Precious Images which was selected for the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2009.

Six of Workman's films will play as part of the retrospective on Saturday.

PIECES OF SILVER plays with VISIONARIES at 1:40 in Wilma 2
THE SOURCE plays with WORDS at 4pm in Wilma 1

Orangutans in the Morning

How could you not want to see this? Grab some breakfast then come see this endearing flick about our ancestors.

NENETTE, directed by

Born in the jungles of Borneo, Nénette is a 40-year-old orangutan — and the oldest (and most beloved) inhabitant at the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Paris. The latest film by legendary French documentarian Nicolas Philibert (TO BE AND TO HAVE), Nénette is a captivating study of an enigmatic animal and our relationship to her.

Screening - Wilma 2, Saturday February 19 @ 10:15 am Montana Premiere

MARWENCOL (a land made of dolls) Helps Victim Cope

Wilma 1, Friday February 18 @ 7:45pm

n April 8, 2000, Mark Hogancamp was attacked outside of a bar in Kingston, NY, by five men who beat him literally to death. Revived by paramedics, Mark had suffered brain damage and physical injuries so severe even his own mother didn’t recognize him. After nine days in a coma and 40 days in the hospital, Mark was discharged with little memory of his previous life. Unable to afford therapy, Mark decided to create his own.

In his backyard, he built Marwencol, a 1/6th scale World War II‐era town that he populated with dolls representing
his friends, family and even his attackers. He used the small dolls and props to redevelop his hand‐eye coordination, while he dealt with the psychic wounds from his attack through the town’s many battles and dramas. Shot over the course of four years, Jeff Malmberg’s documentary intertwines the dual realities of Mark Hogancamp to tell the whole story of Marwencol – a surprising tale of love, secrets, pain, and adventure.

Awards Announced, Screenings Too!

The judges of the 8th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival have announced 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 a ceremony at The Loft in downtown Missoula. The Feature Category winner will receive $1000, while the film in the other three categories will receive a cash prize of $500, courtesy of The Documentary Channel.

This year's jury included Andrew Catauro of POV, Michael Lumpkin of the International Documentary Association, Ian McCluskey from NW Documentary, Kate Pearson of the Documentary Channel, Tracy Rector of Longhouse Media, Oscar-winning filmmaker Chuck Workman and Paco de Onis & Pamela Yates of Skylight Pictures and GRANITO.

The Awards Screenings will take place in the Wilma Theatre February 19 and 20th.
The schedule for this weekend's Awards Screenings is as follows:

Saturday February 19 at 8:00pm
DREAMS AWAKE by Kevin Gordon & Rebekah Meredith- 7 mins
MICHAEL AND HIS DRAGON by Briar March - 6 mins
TUNED IN by Kevin Gordon- 5 mins
DARWIN by Nick Brandestini - 86 mins

Sunday February 20 at 8:00pm

BROKEN DOORS by Goro Toshima- 34 mins
THIS WAY OF LIFE by Thomas Burstyn - 85 mins
STEAM OF LIFE by Joonas Berghall & Mika Hotakainen - 81 mins

800+ Students From Area School Pack the Wilma

The Wilma is currently packed full of 800+ students from area middle and high schools for a FREE screening of PLAY AGAIN, a film about the lost art of going outside.

As part of our Educational Outreach program, this morning's show was organized by our coordinator Nicole Vanek who says that the fest is, "by nature, educational as well as entertaining and it only makes sense to have a partnership with the schools."

Among the schools participating today are Hellgate, Big Sky, Sentinel, Clark Fork and Sussex.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Festival Awards Announced!!!

People oohed and awwed And were rapt at the revelation of the festival winners at The Loft downtown.
After much deliberation, here are the awards...

Short Doc: Broken Doors, directed by Goro Toshima
Mini Doc: Dreams Awake, directed by Kevin Gordon & Rebekah Meredith
Artistic Vision: Michael and his Dragon, directed by Briar March
Feature: This Way of Life, directed by Thomas Burstyn
Feature Artistic Vision: Steam of Life, directed by Joonas Berghall & Mika Hotakainen
Big Sky Award: Tuned In, directed by Kevin Gordon
Big Sky Award Artistic Vision: Darwin, directed by Nick Brandestini

What could be better than getting 5 films for the price of one?

Our second to last Shorts Program plays tonight at 8pm and features a variety of films all revolving around Personal Views.

One of the featured films is MISSOULAQUATSI, a short essay about Missoula, MT. filmed on Super 8 that reveals itself in subtle and timeless ways through extensive use of grainy imagery, time-lapse photography and a futuristic jazz soundtrack. Filmmaker Andrew Smetanka will be in attendance.

Also featured is Tarkio Balloon by Torben Bernhard. The 5-minute film is about the death of his brother by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It tracks Torben's drive from Utah to Tarkio, MO. and uses an interview by his mother as the soundtrack.


Tarkio Balloon - 5 min
Yizkor (Remembrance) - 24 min
Irma - 12 min
Missoulaquatsi - 10 min
Rushland Ridge - 37 min

For All You Writers, Actors and Monologists Out There...

A couple months ago I heard this great piece on NPR about AND EVERYTHING IS GOING FINE, a film about Spalding Gray starring Spalding Gray and directed by Steven Soderbergh. It really gave me a glimpse into the life of this semi-elusive man who committed suicide in 2004 and intrigued me to the point of making it an ABSOLUTE necessity that I see this film.
It shows tonight, Thursday, at 9.45pm in Wilma 1.

An intimate portrait of master monologist Spalding Gray, as described by his most critical, irreverent and insightful biographer: Spalding Gray. Soderbergh has sifted through rare and revealing footage to construct a riveting final monologue. There are glimpses of Gray’s father, and of his son Forrest (who provides soaring music for the end credits), but mostly this is an inspired one-man show, a bittersweet display of Spalding’s playful and embattled intelligence, his gift for tracking universal truths by looking himself squarely in the eye.


BSDFF Receives Award from BSHS

Big Sky High School honored big Sky Film Festival this morning for our participation in their 10th annual Diversity Week. We've shown over 100 films and brought in 37 filmmakers over the past 6 years. Our collaboration with them has not only been great for us as part of our educational outreach program, but the students have been exposed to various films from different ways of life from all over the world via the documentary medium. Thanks, BSHS!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Join Us As We Get Face Planted

The Top Hat on Front Street is usually a good time, right?
Tonight, however, will be especially charming due to the band Butter playing for the festival-hosted party sponsored by Bayern Brewing and Lost Trail Powder Moutain. It begins at 8pm following the screening of LIKE A LION.

Wednesday Night Brings the Portrait of a Private Artist to Life

In DAVE BAILEY: FOUR BEAT TO THE BAR AND NO CHEATING, director Jérôme de Missolz has created an engaging portrait of a very private man who bared the soul of the swinging sixties and seventies with his photographs and films. Portraits of people like these are always fascinating, captivating and alluring, and this film is sure to be one of them.

From Vogue magazine fashion photographer to filmmaker, painter and sculptor, Bailey is the working-class Londoner who befriended the stars (Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, Jack Nicholson, Roman Polanski), married his muses (Jean Shrimpton, Catherine Deneuve, Marie Helvin) and captures the spirit and elegance of his times with his refreshingly simple approach and razor-sharp eye.

He is also the man whose life and work inspired one of the cult movies of the sixties, Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, and who has constantly travelled the globe either with the most beautiful models or chronicling the contemporary reality of Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Vietnam, Afghanistan and other countries with ground-breaking reportages. Above all, Bailey is a romantic with a delightful sense of humour approaching his 73rd year and showing no sign of slowing up



Today starts with a FREE screening of BAG IT at 12.30, with the director in attendance for a Q&A.
In this lively and comical look at one of the most important environmental issues of the day, Telluride, CO everyman Jeb Berrier makes a resolution to stop using plastic bags at the grocery store. Little does Berrier know that this simple decision will change his life completely. He concludes that our consumptive use of plastic has finally caught up to us, and looks at what we can do about it.
Wednesday night's Shorts Program: Darkness and Light is composed of eight fabulous films, dealing with everything from life and illness to sleep deprivation and death. But six of these films have one thing in common: they were all made by students from the same MFA program at Stanford.

We talked to Jenni Nelson, Mina T. Son, Theo Rigby and Sara Newens who were here over the weekend watching films, eating milkshakes, meeting fellow filmmakers and telling us about the selective school which accepts only eight students a year for the rigorous two-year program in Documentary Film and Video.
When asked why they could only stay for the weekend and not take a day off, they responded, "These were our days off."

Mina (of TOPSPIN and THE FINAL CHAPTER) is in her second to last quarter in the two-year Documentary Film and Video program and is working on her final film--one of four (one being in 16mm b&w) all graduates are required to make in their two years as students. She raves about the program, despite its intensity.

"We are all making and will make films; that is what they're training us for."

The concentrations among the students vary, as some will go on to do commercial work while others stick to the artistic, more independent track. But they all get a lesson in the art of film festival strategy, which has proven successful, seeing as this year's programming has films from Stanford students of both present and past.

Shorts Program: Darkness and Light will show Wednesday night at 9.45pm in Wilma 1. NIGHT AWAKE, THE COMFORT OF COLD, THE FINAL CHAPTER, FIRELINE, INDELIBLE MARK, MICHAEL & HIS DRAGON are all Stanford student-made films.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tonight's the Night

Yo La Tengo is playing inside.

Reason #242 That Big Sky Film Fest is Great for the Community

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.

Starting Monday, directors will visit Big Sky, Sentinel, Willard and Hellgate High Schools. Kudos to our Education Director, Nicole Vanek, and thanks to the directors for taking the time to chat with young Missoulians.

Directors include Kathy Corley of THE TAO OF BLAKE, Mary Murphy of HEY BOO, Katherine Bruens of CORNER STORE and Theo Rigby of SIN PAIS.

Yo La Tengo and Underwater Urchins at the Wilma

I first saw Yo La Tengo (I've got it!) play THE SOUNDS OF SCIENCE 4 or 5 years ago in St. Louis at Webster University. I was unfamiliar with the band, only hearing about them at the local record shop and from my sister whose obsession was on the verge of, well, obsessive. I loved what I heard here and there, but it wasn't until this show that I was truly turned onto their unique and complex sound.

They played two shows that night, each one sold out, and I remember being squished in like a sardine looking up at a movie screen undulating with vivid images of starfish, seahorses, urchins and octopi while the trio played solidly below. I eventually fell asleep, being drawn into a sort of trance--the sheer volume and intensity of the music was just enough to lull me into a dream state.
A few years later I was asked to teach a middle school Oceanography class. Seeing as I knew next to nothing about Oceanography, I turned to the DVD of THE SOUNDS OF SCIENCE to help introduce the kids to the underwater world as well as some kick-ass tunes. They enjoyed the shrimp and jellyfish, sure, but the audio stimulation was what really stuck with them, as it did me.
Click on the Octopus for a sample of their tune.

Yo La Tengo plays TONIGHT (Tuesday) at 8pm at the Wilma.

There are still tickets available!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
New Jersey’s legendary independent rock trio Yo La Tengo (Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan, and James McNew) bring a live performance of their ambient and altogether mesmerizing score for the rarely seen undersea documentary shorts by influential French avant-garde filmmaker Jean Painlevé. One of the first to plunge underwater with a movie camera, Painlevé’s films are hypnotic and surreal, capturing the strange beauty of the scientific world as surely as Bunuel and Man Ray. His evocative images are taken to a new level of dreaminess by Yo La Tengo’s free- form compositions.

The eight films in the program include:
Hyas and Stenorhynchus (Hyas et stenorinques ) 1927, 13 min.
Sea Urchins (Les Oursins ) 1954, 11 min.
How Some Jellyfish Are Born (Comment naissent des Méduses ) 1960, 14 min.
Liquid Crystals, (Cristaux liquides ) 1978, 6 min.
The Sea Horse (L’ Hippocampe) 1933, 13 min.
The Love Life of the Octopus (Amours de la pieuvre ) 1967, 13 min.
Shrimp Stories, (La Crevette), 1963, 13 min.
Acera or the Witches’ Dance, 1972, 12 min.

Sponsored by KBGA, The Montana Arts Council, First Security Bank and Northwest Energy

Regarding Your Yo La Tengo Tickets...


Bring your ID to prove you are who you think you are.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Three for Bieber

After our last showing on Friday night, a few gentlemen came into the Wilma looking for tickets to a film.

"Three for Bieber," one of them said, leaning coolly on the counter.

You can imagine our confusion...that is, until we realized that a new Justin Bieber documentary was across town at another theatre.
Their mistake was pointed out to them and they went on their way in search of the newest installment to the Canadian 16-year-old's stardom: NEVER SAY NEVER in 3D.

The New York Times talks about it here.

Maybe next year for the Bieber doc...maybe next year...

Come Out and Show Some Love, Why Dontchya

Some may scoff at today's Hallmark holiday while others may revel in the squishy feeling it gives them inside, but for either extreme and for everyone in between, we're offering a handful of hardy (and hearty) docs today for you solo-goers and couples alike.

1) From teen romance to a decades-long marriage; newlyweds to a recent divorcee, and even a bachelor so frustrated in his search that he chooses to have children without a partner, LOVE, ETC. documents the intimate journeys of engaging characters aged 18-89 who reflect the city's diversity, and takes an honest look at life’s most challenging pursuit.

LOVE, ETC. Jill Andresevic, 2010, USA, 94 minutes, English Screening - Wilma 1,
Monday February 14 @ 6:00 pm Montana Premiere

2) In our Writers' Blocks strand is DOC, a portrait of the filmmaker's father, the legendary forgotten novelist, co-founder of The Paris Review, and counterculture icon Harold Louis “Doc” Humes. Doc’s friends and family—including Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Timothy Leary, William Stryon, Peter Matthiessen, Paul Auster, and Jonas Mekas—weaving together a story of politics, literature, protest and mental illness, shedding light on an original mind as well as the cultural history of postwar America.

DOC Screening - Pipestone,
Monday February 14 @ 7:00 pm
Montana Premiere

But don't worry, the love's not over yet!

3) KATI WITH AN I is an intimate portrait of a teenage girl in Alabama about to graduate high school. With microscopic focus, the beautifully rendered film captures her moment-by-moment emotional transformation over three tumultuous days that leave her future in doubt. The movie explores the period in one’s life when the only constant is motion.

KATI WITH AN I, Robert Greene, 2010, USA, 85 minutes, English Screening - Wilma 1, Monday February 14 @ 8:00 pm Montana Premiere, Feature Competition

Also today is the Doc Challenge Showcase, a collection of films developed, produced and edited in five days by a group of people around the world. The result is a maddening process for them as well as a joy for the audience. Always a popular choice at Big Sky.

So come out and show your love, Missoula!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Did you know we document all this jazz that goes on here at the fest?
Well, we do...thanks to Patrick Record.
A few weeks ago Record called up the Big Sky office wondering if we needed any help with our photography. OF COURSE, we said.

A Photojournalism student at UM who's worked in TV in LA for several years, Record is now working more with photography.
We're highly appreciative of all his hard work and availability to archive our events.

You find more of his stuff HERE.
And go to our Flickr page HERE.

He's a rapper. He's a cowboy. He's a rapping cowboy.

"This bow-legged, wrangler jean wearin’ cowboy struts onto the stage and announced that he was 'gonna do a little old school beat boxin’ tonight.'"
-Elizabeth Lawrence, Director of ROLL OUT, COWBOY

About 10 years ago, Elizabeth Lawrence saw North Dakota native Chris "Sandman" Sand perform his "mishmash of folk, hip-hop and country." She realized right away that he wasn't just some act but that he was a true artist, whose work was both poignant and intelligent.

"He had lots to say and the rhythm to prove it."

Sand says most of his songs emerge from a dissatisfaction with social policies or seeing people stand up against acts of injustice.

"I've always fought for the 'little guy,'" he says. "The 2011 political climate befuddles me, though. Part of the time I'm pissed and the other part I'm inspired."

What became of Sandman was a role as the "Rapping Cowboy," whose story includes quirky details, from his hometown of 120 people to buying a house for $1000 to most of his friends being senior citizens. Lawrence was convinced this was enough material from which to craft a
documentary that would be "dramatic and entertaining at the same time."

"I called Chris and asked if he’d like to participate in a documentary project about his life," Lawrence says. "He agreed. Destiny led me to Dunn Center, North Dakota three weeks later."

Roll Out Cowboy from Roll Out, Cowboy on Vimeo.

"Chris Sand's story is about one man's daily effort to make his voice heard. From Red States, to Blue States, from urban to rural, from the elderly to the youthful...ROLL OUT, COWBOY has something for everyone."

ROLL OUT, COWBOY screens SUNDAY Feb. 13th at 9.45pm with a Q&A and a live performance by Chris Sand.

@rolloutcowboy @rappingcowboy

Let Us Help You

We here at Big Sky Film Festival listen to our customers' requests.
You want cooler merch? We did it.
You want more parties? Done.
You ask for a quiz to match up your interests with the film topics and a little guidance to help you plan your week? YOU GOT IT, BABY.

Do you like Self-effacing self-portraits of monologists (Spalding Gray)?

Do you like Dramatic war documentaries in Danish, Farsi and English?

Do you like to eat the sun? Have you ever been a teenager?

Do you like Renaissance men with famous liaisons? You want Hollywood tragedy?

Have you ever been in love? Are you intrigued by Irish Psychiatric wards?

Do you want to learn how to love the gun? How about amazing short films?