Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival? The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (BSDFF) has become the largest cinema event in Montana and the premiere venue for non-fiction film in the American West. The festival draws an audience of 20,000 and receives over 1500 film entries from every corner of the globe. BSDFF takes place in Missoula, Montana and offers a unique setting for filmmakers to premiere new work and for audiences to see innovative new films. BSDFF hosts over 200 visiting artists, and screens an average of 150 nonfiction films annually.
Where do BSDFF screenings take place? 2017 screenings are held at The Wilma, The Roxy Theater, the Hellgate Elks Lodge, the MCT Center for the Performing Arts and the Public House in downtown Missoula. Visit our venue page for street addresses and more information about these locations. Screenings were originally planned for The Silver at 2023 S Higgins, however this schedule was moved following the collapse of The Silver building on February 4th. The updated scheudule can be found here.
When does THE NEXT BSDFF take place? February 16-25, 2018
When can I purchase tickets? You can buy All-Access and All-Screening passes anytime on our website.
Single movie tickets will be available to purchase online in late January or early February prior to the festival. You can purchase tickets online in advance or at the door. If you purchase in advance, simply show up at the door and check in at will call. We recommend you arrive at least 15 minutes early to purchase at the door OR to check in at will call. For more information on tickets and passes visit bigskyfilmfest.org/festival/tickets/
How do I claim tickets purchased online? Tickets purchases online can be picked up at WILL CALL at the Festival HQ, located in the Rocky Mountain School of Photography at 216 N Higgins Avenue (open 10am to 6pm daily).
Is there assigned seating for the film screenings? No, all screenings are general admission. We recommend arriving 15-20 minutes early to screenings.
Is there a director in person for a Q&A after every screening? Many of our filmmakers come to Missoula to participate in their screenings, but not all.
Are the films family friendly? Many of the films have mature content. For family friendly films, please check out our Schoolhouse Docs after-school series. Age ratings for Schoolhouse Docs films can be found in the festival program. Though most of these new films have not been rated officially, we gather a group of educators prior to the festival each year to assign age-appropriateness for each film.
Are there other events at BSDFF besides movie screenings? Yes! BSDFF hosts DocShop, an annual 5-day conference on the art and skill of filmmaking featuring workshops, panels, and the Big Sky Pitch. On Friday, February 24th we will have our AWARDS PARTY open to the public at the Garlington (GLR) Building in downtown Missoula located at 50 Ryman Street. Additionally, every night of BSDFF there is an event at a different Missoula venue with food, drinks, and networking opportunities available to All-Access passholders.
What is DocShop? Each year, BSDFF holds DocShop, a 5-day conference for filmmakers and professionals, to discuss the art and impact of filmmaking. For all media makers and enthusiasts, DocShop tackles the filmmaking process through panels, workshops, pitches, screenings and presentations – invaluable continuing education for the veteran and emerging filmmaker. Visit the DocShop page for more information and to register!
What is the Big Sky Pitch? 10-15 documentary filmmakers pitch their work-in-progress to some of the top commissioning editors and funders for documentary film in North America. All documentary forms and all subjects are eligible to submit. The session will be held Thursday, February 23rd, 2017 at the UC Theater in Missoula, Montana with a live audience of filmmakers, industry representatives, and students. Commissioning editors will have the opportunity to critique and comment on each pitch. Selected projects will have 8 minutes to pitch their project and show a sample, if available, for the panel.
How can I get an All-Access Pass and what does an All-Access pass get me? All-Access passes can be purchased online. This pass gets you into all films, DocShop panels, parties and special events during the BSDFF.
What is the Big Sky Film Series? The Big Sky Film Series is a regular screening series highlighting traditional and innovative non-fiction film and video. Screenings are held each month and are free and open to the public. Check our website for upcoming Film Series films and dates.
How can I submit my film to BSDFF? Call for entries for the 2018 BSDFF open May 15, 2017. Visit our submissions page for more information or to submit.
How can I volunteer for BSDFF? Volunteer signup for BSDFF is now online! Shift descriptions and sign up will be available in January, visit the Volunteer page to find out more and sign up. As always, volunteers will receive a complimentary t-shirt for working two shifts as well as a free screening pass for each shift worked (to be distributed during your shift unless other arrangements are required). Volunteers who work 40 hours over the course of the festival will receive all-access passes good for screenings, parties and special events.
Getting to the BSDFF: Missoula is easily accessible by highway. Interstate 90 runs east-west through the Missoula valley, and Montana Highway 93 travels north-south. By air, you can fly into Missoula International Airport (with flights offered by Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and Allegiant). Once you are downtown, all our venues are quite walkable (snow or shine) and there is not a great need for a car while you are enjoying the festival events. It is easy to get around Missoula whether you decide to rent a car, Uber, take the bus or call a cab. Missoula is a community that prides itself in making all attempts to reduce traffic congestion and provide eco-friendly transportation options.
How do I book my accommodation? We work with local hotel partners to offer special rates for your stay in Missoula. Find out more HERE.