BSDFF launched its inaugural season in the fall of 2003, when founder Doug Hawes-Davis put out a call for entries on the Internet. He recognized the international resurgence of documentary film and the shortage of venues for the public to have access to these films. In order to demonstrate this art form and give voice to the powerful ideas that come forth in documentary, he wanted to bring the films to Missoula, Montana. With the help of a handful of friends, he programmed 75 films to screen over the course of a week in a local theater and the BSDFF was born.
The six-day event was a sensation at the modest Roxy Theater. Classics screened back to back with contemporary films. As the buzz spread through town, lines of people stood outside in the cold, waiting to enter the theater, then packed the house and sold out shows. With the public and filmmakers already inquiring about next year, the message was clear: the festival naturally fit this community and should become an annual arts and cultural event.
This year, our efforts were met enthusiastically with over 100 community volunteers and a handful of core staff, each bringing their individual continued research in the genre of documentary film to compliment retrospective development, general programming and educational effor