This Friday, February 19 kicks off the 13th Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula MT. Running through Sunday, February 28, the state’s largest film event will present several competitions, as well as a diverse range of non-competitive sidebars on themes including native concerns, conflict resolution, nature, culture, history, adventure, local filmmaking, and retrospectives of the work of Lucy Walker and Ondi Timoner. A selection of the more than 60 new and recent feature docs is included below:
Among the world premieres in the fest’s Feature Competition are: Jason Burlage’s THE MIDDLE KINGDOM, a look at Shanghai residents through their interactions with a fortune teller; Sonia Goldenberg’s FOLLOWING KINA, about two boxers inspired by Peru’s first female champion; Rod Murphy’s EL CHIVO, on an ultramarathon runner; Tod Lending’s ALL THE DIFFERENCE, which looks at two African American Chicagoans’ attempts to finish college; and Jedd Wider and Todd Wider’s GOD KNOWS WHERE I AM (pictured), the story behind the discovery of a homeless woman’s body in an empty house.
While the Big Sky Award Competition, which celebrates the American West, primarily consists of short films, there are two features included: Samantha Farinella’s HUNTING IN WARTIME, about Alaskan Tlingit Vietnam War veterans; and Mat Hames’ WHAT WAS OURS (pictured), on the hunt for long lost sacred objects by members of the Wind River Indian Reservation.
The two Native American films above also appear in the Indigenous Visions strand, which also includes such features as Christian Mathieu Fournier’s NALLUA (pictured), which revisits the mass death of Nunavut’s Inuit people; Gwendolen Cates’ THE GOOD MIND, on New York State’s Onondaga Nation and their battle to reclaim stolen ancestral lands; and Sarah Grohnert’s EVER THE LAND, about an architectural project involving an independent Maori tribe from New Zealand.
Locally-focused work takes the spotlight in Made in Montana, including the world premieres of Ajax Broome and Chris Richardson’s THE FIGHT TO FOLLOW, which follows a sideman’s struggle to survive as a musician; Jessica Jane Hart’s MAKOSHIKA (pictured), a look at the badlands in a cycle of oil boom and bust; and Ryan Seitz’s SKIPS STONE FOR FUDGE, a profile of competitive stone skipping rivals.
Past Projections focuses on history, with titles including: Damon Ristau’s THE BUG (pictured), the story of the Volkswagen Beetle; Vladislava Plančíková’s FELVIDEK: CAUGHT IN BETWEEN, which uses animation to tell the tale of a Central European people caught in the Cold War; and Valerio Ciriaci’s IF ONLY I WERE THAT WARRIOR, a look back at Italy’s colonial activity in Ethiopia.
Natural Facts takes on nature, in work like Abbas Sendi’s THE SHELTER, about an Iranian animal shelter; and Michelle Dougherty and Daniel Hinerfeld’s SONIC SEA (pictured), which explores the hidden impact of noise on marine life.
Rounding out the program’s newer work are a couple additional world premieres: In the All Abilities strand, focused on overcoming adversity, is Rebbie Ratner’s BORDERLINE, about a woman who has contended with Borderline Personality Disorder for four decades; and in Sights & Sounds, Bobby J Brown’s TEAR THE ROOF OFF: THE UNTOLD STORY OF PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC (pictured), on the funk band’s tumultuous history.