Tonight sees the launch of the 12th edition of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Montana’s premier film festival, which will run through Monday, February 16. The event hosts several competitive and non-competitive program strands, including a focus on local nonfiction filmmaking, sidebars on interactive docs, music, nature, sports and adventure, true crime, the American West, indigenous cinema, and a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as retrospective series on the work of Sam Green and John Cohen. A representative selection is noted below:
Among the ten titles included in the fest’s main competition, the Big Sky Feature Competition, are: Frode Fimland’s SIBLINGS ARE FOREVER (pictured), a portrait of an elderly pair of Norwegian farmers; Nima Shayeghi’s BOYS WITH BROKEN EARS, about the wrestling dreams of young Iranian men; Andrea Meller’s NOW EN ESPAÑOL, which revisits the popularity of Spanish-dubbed television programming for American Latino/a audiences; and Patty Dillon’s THERE WILL BE NO STAY, which explores the work of prison executioners.
Nine works are eligible for the Big Sky Award Competition, including William J Saunders’ BILLY MIZE AND THE BAKERSFIELD SOUND, about the influential country musician; and Nick Brandestini’s CHILDREN OF THE ARCTIC, which focuses on the experiences of several Native Alaskan teens. The Made in Montana section highlights locally-produced work, including Cindy Stillwell and Tom Watson’s BARD IN THE BACKCOUNTRY, following a Montana Shakespeare troupe; and Andy Smetanka’s AND WE WERE YOUNG (pictured), a handcrafted stop-motion chronicle of WWI.
Included in the fest’s music-focused Sights & Sounds section are eleven feature documentaries, among them: Claire Dix’s profile of North Dublin street musicians, BROKEN SONG (pictured); Kay D Ray’s tribute to female jazz musicians, LADY BE GOOD: INSTRUMENTAL WOMEN IN JAZZ; and Francesco Merini and Helmut Failoni’s look at an Italian orchestra uniting young talents with experienced veterans, THE ORCHESTRA.
Finally, a sampling of Big Sky’s other thematic programming includes Stranger Than Fiction, presenting unusual but true stories and subjects, such as Sam Carroll’s BEDEVIL (pictured), which follows a High Priestess’ efforts to run for city council; True Crime, which includes Gorman Bechard’s A DOG NAMED GUCCI, about a man’s efforts to protect animals from inhumane treatment; and the aforementioned 25th anniversary celebration of the ADA, which features Abigail Fuller and Sarah Ivy’s DO YOU DREAM IN COLOR?, an exploration of the lives of four blind teenagers.