2018 Competition Winners


As the 15th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival heads into the second weekend thousands of fans have taken in compelling, inspiring and though provoking nonfiction film. With over 180 films in the festival, the following films in competition were announced as the 2018 winners at the Awards event on Friday, February 23 in Missoula, MT.

The 2018 competition was highly competitive. Of the 35 films in competition, 23 are world premieres and 5 are North American premieres. The four competitions shine a spotlight on superior works in documentary filmmaking. One prize winner in each category was selected by the festival jury in each of the following categories and considerations were made for artistic vision. Winners in each category receive a $500 cash prize, and winners in the Short and Mini-Doc categories automatically qualify for consideration in the following year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for an Oscar in the documentary shorts competition.

“The quality of filmmaking and craft of storytelling in this year’s competition films is really impressive, and we’re very excited about the quality of our jury as well” says Festival Director Rachel Gregg. “To bring these competition films to the engaged audiences at Big Sky is truly an honor, and we’re grateful to our juries for making the tough final decisions.”

Find the full list of nominees HERE.


Big Sky Award: Presented to one film that artistically honors the character, history, tradition and imagination of the American West.

Jury: Theo Lipfert, Michele Ohayon and Drew Xanthopoulos


David Byars, 2017, USA — 82 minutes

On January 2, 2016, armed militant seized the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney Country, Oregon. What began as a protest to condemn the sentencing of two ranchers quickly morphed into a call for those eager to register their militant antipathy toward the federal government. Documenting the occupation from its inception to is dramatic demise, NO MAN’S LAND tells the story of those inside the movement and attempts to uncover what it is that draws individuals to the edge of revolution.


Mini-Doc Competition – films 15 minutes and under

Jury: Kirby Dick, Julie Keck and Joshua Nelson


Andrew James, 2017, USA — 13 minutes

Detroit is notorious for being a hotspot for crime. Following the intimate story of a minister in Detroit, COMMUNITY PATROL shows a community that comes together in order to push back against a drug house, in an inspiring display of collective action.


Mini-Doc Artistic Vision Award

Jury statement: For its beautiful and subdued cinematography and the completeness of its poignant story of grief and perseverance, this jury would like to give an Artistic Vision Award to Sean Mullan for INHALE. We cannot wait to see what he does next.

Winner: INHALE

Sean Mullan, 2017, United Kingdom — 16 minutes

Through horses, a man feels an irrepressible duty to move in harmony with his pain. INHALE explores the infinite momentum of a man’s life who’s relationship with pain and grief transforms with time.


Short Competition – films between 15 and 40 minutes in length

Jury: Nancy Collet, Jannat Gargi and Amy Hobby


Bence Máté, 2017, Germany, Egypt — 38 minutes

Koka’s world revolves around one simple and well-known bird: the pigeon. As a respected figure in Cairo’s pigeon fighting world, Koka devotes his time to training and caring for hundreds of pigeons in his self-built wooden tower. Under immense pressure from his conservative community to quit his passion, Koka is faced with the possibility that his pigeon fighting days may be coming to an end.


Feature Competition – films over 40 minutes in length

Jury: Lisa Hasko, Milton Tabbot and Carmen Vicencio


Rita Baghdadi, Jeremiah Hammerling, 2017, USA — 71 minutes

Following the rise and fall of the new American oil boom, MY COUNTRY NO MORE paints an intimate portrait of a rural community in crisis, forced to confront the meaning of progress as they fight for a disappearing way of life.

Feb 24, 2018 | permalink