The 16th Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Nearly 60 new or recent doc features screen as part of Montana’s largest film event.
The Feature Competition includes three world premieres – Jesse Alk’s PARIAH DOG
, on the street dogs of Kolkata; Alex Lora and Adán Aliaga’s EL CUARTO REINO
, which follows people on the margins at a redemption center; and Matt Wechsler and Annie Speicher’s RIGHT TO HARM
, about citizen activists facing off against factory farms. Other films in the competition include Jasmin Herold and Michael Beamish’s DARK EDEN
, a personal exploration of the dangers of Canada’s oil sands industry; and Mariah Wilson’s SILENT FORESTS
, about elephant conservationists in Africa’s Congo Basin. Among titles in the running for the Big Sky Award is Rainer Komers’ BARSTOW, CALIFORNIA
, an impressionistic portrait of life in the Mojave Desert.
The remainder of the fest’s lineup consists of various thematic strands. Among these are Activism & Justice, which includes work like Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky’s THE COMMONS
, which focuses on protests around a North Carolina Confederate statue; Margo Guernsey’s COUNCILWOMAN
, a portrait of a working-class Dominican politician in Providence; and Shaena Mallett’s FARMSTEADERS
, following a couple as they restart a family farm; and Peace & Conflict, with films such as Nizam Najar’s ALEPPO’S FALL
, which follows civilian fighters for the Free Syrian Army.
The Sports & Adventure strand includes work like Israel Cannan’s FISH OUT OF WATER
, following two men as they set out to cross the ocean in a rowboat; and Grant Baldwin’s THIS MOUNTAIN LIFE
, profiles of various adventurers; while Sights & Sounds, offers Elisabeth Silveiro’s VOSTOK N°20
, an observational portrait of strangers on a Transsiberian train; and Mat Hames’ WAITING FOR THE PUNCHLINE
, which follows a man’s attempts to become a standup comedian.
Other sections include Made in Montana, with Kirk Leclaire’s “…SO GOOD I CAN’T TAKE IT”
, about Montana’s forgotten 1980s music scene; All Abilities, with Johnny Sweet’s QUIET STORM: THE RON ARTEST STORY
, on the mental health challenges of the NBA champion; Indigenous Stories, with Drew Nicholas’ BLOOD MEMORY
, an exploration of the impact of adoption policies on Native American children; Natural Facts, with Peter Nelson’s THE POLLINATORS
, about the annual process of aiding honey bees in pollinating our crops; and Stories from Iran, with Kourosh Ataee and Azadeh Moussavi’s FINDING FARIDEH
, which follows an adoptee back to her native Iran to find her birth family.