BSFI Receives Grant from Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation for Youth Education Programs
The Big Sky Film Institute (BSFI) has received a grant from the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation in support of its full slate of youth education programs. A three-year grant, the funding will allow BSFI to commit more time and resources to take education programs into underserved areas in remote corners of the state, strengthen collaborative education networks, and sustain student and family programs at the annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (BSDFF).
“Generation Z is next-level media savvy,” says BSFI Executive Director Rachel Gregg, “and we are thrilled to receive the generous support from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation to empower the next generation to be responsible consumers and creators of media, find their voice, expand worldviews and learn skills for artful and productive storytelling.”
The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the major philanthropic organization for The Washington Companies and the Washington family, supports programs and services that give people the tools to enhance the quality of their lives and benefit society as a whole. A proponent for enhancing collaborative education outreach, the foundation has supported the growth of BSFI’s youth programs and encouraged the institute to expand efforts to provide programs and services that give Montana’s economically and socially disadvantaged youth the tools they need to succeed in life.
“Extensive research shows that integrating the arts into the K-12 system, particularly in rural communities without access to arts programs, enhances academic achievement across the board and positively impacts the social-emotional development of youth exposed to arts programming,” said Mike Halligan, Executive Director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. “This is clearly an investment that gives young people the tools they need to succeed in life.”
BSFI offers six youth programs that provide access to film and filmmakers that help inform, expand perspectives, facilitate discussion on complex topics and promote filmmaking as a vocation. Programs include Filmmakers in the Schools, taking filmmakers attending BSDFF into classrooms to share films and engage students in discussion; Schoolhouse Docs, a series of documentary films programmed for youth and families at BSDFF; the Big Sky Documentary Youth Fellowship, a 6-month mentorship program connecting high school students with a BSFI artist in residence to learn the history and mechanics of documentary filmmaking; the Teen Doc Intensive, a 2-day crash course in documentary filmmaking; and the NFI Film Club, the youth outreach component of BSFI’s Native Filmmaker Initiative that takes Indigenous film and filmmakers into classrooms across the state.
The slate of programs provides low-cost or no-cost opportunities for students and families to engage with non-fiction film and filmmakers. With sustaining funding from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, BSFI plans to expand programs to reach over 15,000 students across Montana by 2021, provide scholarships for Teen Doc Intensive participants without sufficient travel resources, and increase impact in underserved areas, especially Indian Country. More information on BSFI youth education programs can be found at bigskyfilm.org/education.
BSFI Welcomes New Program & Development Coordinator
The Big Sky Film Institute gained a new team member this week welcoming Kaitlin McCafferty as Program and Development Coordinator. Kaitlin came to Missoula by way of New York City where she worked in development at four leading NYC non-profit organizations. During her time there she gained intimate insight into how organizations create responsive, holistic, community based and informed programs that work to address complex issues. Originally from Ohio, Kaitlin received her M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and has a B.S. in Marketing from Fordham University.
In her role as Program and Development Coordinator Kaitlin will execute the development vision of the Institute and the annual festival, coordinating fundraising efforts including donor relations, grant writing and sponsorship. As an integral member of the team Kaitlin will also be involved in the planning and coordination of major Institute programs including the Big Sky Film Series, DocShop, and the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.
It’s Back On! Outdoor Screening of MOUNTAIN at Bob Ward’s
UPDATE: This event has been officially rescheduled for Friday, September 14th!
After a rain delay halted plans for a June event, Bob Ward’s and Big Sky Documentary Film Festival are teaming up for an outdoor screening of the epic new documentary feature Mountain on Friday, September 14.
Rooted in the heart of the Rocky Mountain West, Montanans of all walks of life largely have one thing in common: a healthy fascination with the outdoors. For 101 years, Bob Ward’s Sports and Outdoors has provided the keys to that kingdom, outfitting outdoor enthusiasts who crave adventure and seek the unspeakable beauty of the mountains. Join Bob Ward’s and BSDFF to celebrate this heritage at the most exciting film event of the Fall and a trunk sale with your favorite outdoor brands.
The screening begins after sundown around 8:30pm but the party starts early with drinks, food, and a trunk sale with special deals on popular brands and outdoor gear. A beer and wine bar provided by The Rhino and food from local food trucks open at 4pm. Bring your own lawn or camp chair and reserve your vantage point early to see Mountain the film as evening fades to night in Missoula.
Mountain is a breathtaking spectacle that explores our captivation with the mountains featuring awe-inspiring footage of peaks from Tibet to Norway to Alaska and the skiiers, climbers, bikers and others that seek to reach their summits. A collaboration between Sherpas Cinema and Camp 4 Collective (among others), the film employs spectacular cinematography from Renan Ozturk (Meru), poetic narration from Willem DaFoe and a classical score from the Australian Chamber Orchestra to capture the drama and thrill of mountainous pursuits.
View the TRAILER
Official Website: mountainthefilm.com
The film screening is free and open to the public and begins after sundown (about 8:30pm) at the Bob Ward’s store parking lot in Missoula, 3015 Paxson. Join us for this exciting, one of a kind event!
Presented in partnership with longtime BSDFF supporter Bob Ward's!
Big Sky Doc Shop Receives National Endowment for the Arts Funding
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $20,000 to the Big Sky Film Institute for the 2019 Big Sky DocShop. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.
“The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as the Big Sky Film Institute in Missoula, Montana, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”
"Big Sky is thrilled to receive NEA funding for DocShop for a second year running," added Big Sky Film Institute Executive Director Rachel Gregg. "This conference is a vital piece of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and a unique voice in the vibrant conversation evolving in the doc film industry. DocShop has become a premier event for career development and offers an ideal setting for filmmakers to forge collaborations and develop lasting relationships with fellow filmmakers and industry."
DocShop is a five-day filmmaker's forum and gathering place that takes place every year during the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. The conference is geared towards filmmakers, innovators, students, and media industry leaders to explore cutting-edge ideas that are shaping the field of documentary film today. The conference includes workshops, panels and master classes that cover diverse aspects of the filmmaking process, and culminates with the Big Sky Pitch, an opportunity for filmmakers to pitch works-in-progress to a panel of industry representatives and funders. The festival-conference energy creates a unique and fruitful experience for emerging and award-winning filmmakers alike.
The 2019 DocShop takes place February 18-22 during the 16th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news
Now Hiring: Program & Development Coordinator
**Update: this position is now CLOSED.**
The Big Sky Film Institute is seeking a Program & Development Coordinator to join our year-round staff. Under the supervision and guidance of the Executive Director, the Program & Development Coordinator will execute the development vision of the Institute and the annual festival through fundraising, program coordination and communication. As an integral member of the year-round staff of the institute this position is also involved in the planning and coordination of Institute programs including the Big Sky Film Series, DocShop, and the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.
This position is part-time, year-round. Compensation DOE.
This position closed to applications May 15th.
BSDFF honored with third selection for MovieMaker Magazine’s “Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee”
For the second year in a row Big Sky Documentary Film Festival has been selected by MovieMaker Magazine for the coveted list of Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee. The list, created annually to help guide filmmakers contemplating their festival strategy, spotlights the benefits of screening at festivals outside the mainstream festival circuit. MovieMaker also points out the unique merits each event offers to help a film find their next pitch session or distribution deal, and navigate career trajectory. This is the third time BSDFF has received this recognition, with previous selections in 2014 and 2017.
MovieMaker's 2018 selections focused on helping filmmakers weigh the opportunites offered by a variey of festivals. "We hope that for every long and short-term goal you identify—be it finding your film’s proper audience, garnering tricks to be a better collaborator, or announcing your official “arrival” with an awards sweep—we’ve also identified a place where you can make it all happen," wrote Associate Editor, now Managing Editor Max Weinstein. Rising to the top were festivals that prioritize programming, networking, dynamic interpretations of New Media and access to meaningful interactions with distributors.
"Industry recognition from this particular publication, independently created and curated by filmmakers, is especially meaningful to us," noted Rachel Gregg, Executive Director of the Big Sky Film Institute. "At their roots, festivals are a series of events and programs, but impact is created in the moments in between, where filmmakers meet their next collaborator or interact with an audience that invigorates their artistic amibitions. Landing on the MovieMaker list for a third time is further proof that Big Sky is not just another forum for exhibition, we're fostering a community for documentary filmmakers."
Big Sky selects over 90% of it's festival program from open call submissions, with discounted entry fees for students, Native filmmakers and Montana-made content. Submissions for the 2019 festival open Monday, May 14th with an early bird entry fee for films submitted by June 30, 2018.
BSFI Native Filmmaker Initiative Receives FilmWatch Grant From Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today recipients of its 2018 FilmCraft and FilmWatch grants. Included in these awards is $5,000 in FilmWatch grant funding for the Big Sky Film Institute to continue the Native Filmmaker Initiative.
The Native Filmmaker Initiative was designed to bring more Indigenous stories to the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, support and engage the American Indian media arts community and have a greater impact on community youth. The program includes special festival programming, educational outreach, a digital toolkit curated for Native filmmakers, and a fellowship program.
“This year the [Academy] Grants are proud to support 51 organizations whose innovative programs reach broad audiences, underserved high school and college students, support mid-career and emerging filmmakers, and engage and enrich their local communities. The Grants also reached out to support several film archives devastated by recent climate events. It is the Grants’ privilege and responsibility to fund organizations, rising and established, that reflect both The Academy’s values and its leadership role in the arts,” said Buffy Shutt, chair of the Academy’s grants committee.
The Academy’s FilmCraft and FilmWatch grants were established to identify and empower future filmmakers from nontraditional backgrounds, cultivate new and diverse talent, promote motion pictures as an art form, and provide a platform for underrepresented artists. The BSFI Native Filmmaker Initiative also received funding from Humanities Montana for the educational outreach component, and BSFI worked closely with Vision Maker Media, Longhouse Media and ITVS in 2017 to bring the program to life. This is the second year Big Sky has received funding from the FilmWatch grant for the Native Filmmaker Initiative.
"The first year of the Native Filmmaker Initiative was a great success," reflected Rachel Gregg, Executive Director of the Big Sky Film Institute. "We were proud to host four Native Filmmaker Fellows who attended BSDFF 2018 for screenings, DocShop, a private seminar and valuable industry immersion network available at the fest. Eight Native-directed documentaries were selected in the Native Filmmaker category and featured at the festival, and we took three Native-directed films into schools around Montana in partnership with the Montana Office of Public Instruction and Inspired Classroom. We are honored to receive a second FilmWatch grant to continue this exciting program and elevate stories from Indian Country and expressions of Native filmmakers."
FilmWatch and FilmCraft Grants range from $5,000-$15,000, and a total of $500,000 was awarded for the 2018-2019 grants year. A full list of recipients can be foud at oscars.org/news.
2018 Competition Winners
ANNOUNCING THE 2018 BIG SKY DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL 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
Winner: NO MAN’S LAND
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
Winner: COMMUNITY PATROL
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.
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
Winner: KOKA, THE BUTCHER
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
Winner: MY COUNTRY NO MORE
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.
15th Annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Runs February 16-25, 2018 in Downtown Missoula
Now entering its fifteenth year, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (BSDFF) is established as Montana’s premier cinema event and the largest documentary film festival in the American West. A program of the non-profit Big Sky Film Institute, BSDFF is a prolific 10-day event held every February in Missoula and lights up western Montana with over 150 extraordinary films from across the globe. The festival hosts hundreds of filmmakers and 20,000 engaged film goers attending screenings, live events, educational programs, and film industry forums. Official theater venues for BSDFF 2018 include The Wilma, the Roxy Theater, the MCT Center for the Performing Arts and Missoula Hellgate Elks Lodge.
In recent years the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences introduced BSDFF as an Oscar-qualifying festival in the Documentary Shorts category. Named in MovieMaker Magazine’s 2017 “50 Best Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee,” BSDFF received a record 1,800 entries from 75 countries and continues to be an internationally recognized, vital festival bringing business and cultural cache to Missoula along with stories from around the world.
In addition to screenings, BSDFF hosts the Big Sky DocShop, a five-day filmmaker’s forum that includes panels, workshops, and the popular Big Sky Pitch for works in progress. The 2018 DocShop conference will focus on the intersection of film and technology, an exploration of innovative production equipment and systems, multimedia platforms and distribution, and how to navigate the increasingly prominent world of virtual reality. DocShop 2018 is funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and will feature representatives from Vimeo, Vulcan Productions, Sundance Institute New Frontier, Tribeca Film Institute, Gravitas Ventures, Seed & Spark and ITVS among other industry voices.
Each year BSDFF presents retrospective programming spotlighting the body of work of celebrated and accomplished filmmakers. In 2018 BSDFF will feature Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Kirby Dick. Known for exploring issues of secrecy, hypocrisy and human sexuality, Dick’s progressive repertoire includes monumental exposé The Hunting Ground, breakthrough MPAA investigation piece This Film Is Not Yet Rated, and military spotlight The Invisible War which won the 2014 Emmy Award for Best Documentary and Outstanding Investigative Journalism, a 2013 Peabody award and the 2012 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award.
Big Sky is also delighted to present a retrospective on veteran documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist Greg Barker. Barker looks for strong personal narratives that illuminate the complexities and moral ambiguities of global politics and war. For THE FINAL YEAR Barker secured unprecedented access to the White House and State Department, capturing the emotions and human dynamics behind American diplomacy at its highest levels. Barker’s other films include HBO’s Manhunt, about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, (Prime-Time Emmy®), Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma, Sergio (Sundance editing award), and Koran by Heart. Barker previously worked as a journalist, making numerous films for PBS/Frontline, including the acclaimed Ghosts of Rwanda.
This year Big Sky is proud to launch the Native Filmmaker Initiative, funded in part by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, including a strand of films directed or produced by Native American filmmakers and a fellowship program. Additional special programming will include a free opening night screening, an evening celebrating audio documentaries in partnership with Montana Public Radio, and virtual reality selection The Antarctica Series from New York Times VR.
The 15th Annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival takes place February 16-25, 2018. Tickets, official selections and the complete festival screening schedule will be released in January. All Access passes and All Screening passes are on sale now and discounted through December. For more information on the festival, tickets and passes, the Big Sky Film Institute and 2018 programs visit http://www.bigskyfilmfest.org.
Film Series Panel Event with Climate Scientists and Educators
Join us for the season finale of the 2017 Big Sky Film Series featuring documentary film BILL NYE: SCIENCE GUY, a behind-the-scenes portrait of Nye as he takes off his Science Guy lab coat and takes on those who deny climate change, evolution, and a science-based world view. The film shows Thursday, November 9th at the MCT Center for the Performing Arts at 7:00pm.
Following the film we are thrilled to host a panel with climate scientists and educators from spectrUM Discovery Area, Ecology Project International, Climate Smart Missoula and The University of Montana. The panel will unpack ideas from the film including the changing landscape of science education and advocacy, shifting narratives around climate change and science-based world view, and emerging strategies for science education in the digital age. Special thanks to spectrUM Discovery Area for bringing this special panel togther in parntership with the Big Sky Film Institute - it's sure to be an exciting conversation!
Amy Cilimburg - Climate Smart Missoula
Amy loves putting her passions to work leading Climate Smart Missoula, strengthening connections, initiating new programs, and building a resilient community. She was part of the team that launched this organization and has been at the helm since its inception. Amy has worked on climate and energy policy for the past decade, encouraging solutions at the local, state and federal levels. She did much of this through her work at Montana Audubon and by volunteering locally to help develop Missoula's Climate Action Plans. Amy has a Masters degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana. She lives in Missoula with her husband, teenage daughter, and dog.
Scott Mills - University of Montana
Dr. L. Scott Mills is Associate Vice President of Research for Global Change and Sustainability, and a Wildlife Biology Professor, at the University of Montana. Scott spends part of his time synergizing cross-cutting, interdisciplinary, international research projects related to global change and sustainability. The rest of his job focuses on conducting his research around the world and enjoying his international group of smart, dedicated, and competent students and research collaborators. The two biggest current research projects in the Mills lab focus on a scope for adaptation by animals to global change and charismatic big animals that cross international boundaries. Scott has received numerous teaching awards, mentored 26 graduate and 34 undergraduate research projects, and been awarded funding from a wide range of sources; these include an NSF Early Career Award and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.
Kallie Moore - University of Montana and PBS Digital Studios
Kallie Moore is the Collections Manager of the University of Montana Paleontology Center. Her job is best described as a "Fossil Librarian". Along with keeping the collection organized and accessible, Kallile also supervises volunteers, participates in science communication (both on and off campus), and facilitates research by sending fossils all over the world for scientist to study. As of June 2017, Kallie is also a co-host on the PBS Digital Studios show Eons, where she discusses the fossil record and natural history of our planet.
Julie Osborn - Ecology Project International
Julie is the Advancement Director & Co-founder of Missoula-based non-profit, Ecology Project International (EPI). Through her work, she strives to build collaboration between scientists and local communities to promote effective conservation. Julie’s background as an ecologist and analyst has always focused on global change. During her graduate studies at Stanford, she spent time in the mangroves of north Queensland, Australia, and the grasslands of California. She’s lived in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, researched raptors and wind turbines, contributed to national policy on energy efficiency and renewable energy at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and advised a University of Montana graduate candidate – which led her to co-teach EPI’s first program in 2000. When not directing organizational development and fundraising, Julie enjoys adventures with her two beautiful children and husband, preferably near or on a river.
Nick Wethington - SpectrUM and Western Montana Astronomical Association
Nick Wethington is the Museum Manager at the spectrUM Discovery Area, the University of Montana's hands-on science museum. Nick is passionate about sharing his knowledge of science with everyone. For the last two years, Nick has brought his knack for making and tinkering to spectrUM and schools in the Bitterroot Valley and Flathead Reservation. Nick has even made his own telescope, and he serves as the president of the Western Montana Astronomical Association.
Huge thanks to Big Sky Film Series sponsor Missoula Federal Credit Union! Doors for the event open at 6pm, with a no-host bar and popcorn available, and as alway, admission is FREE.
Now Hiring: Print Traffic Coordinator
Update 10/4/17 - This position is closed for application
The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana is seeking a Print Traffic Coordinator to join our 2018 festival staff. Under the supervision of the Programming Directors, the Print Traffic coordinator will manage print traffic for the 15th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival which takes place February 16-25, 2018. The Coordinator will work with filmmakers and other parties to secure on –time receipt of festival films, videos, and promotional deliverables and arrange timely return shipping of prints. The Print Traffic Coordinator will also work with the Technical Director and Education Director to organize screening schedules, playlists and distribution of prints and backups to appropriate venues.
This position begins in November 2017 and runs through March 2018. Compensation DOE.
Native Filmmaker Fellows Application Now Open
The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival has opened applications for the 2018 Native Filmmaker Fellowship program. The fellowship offers four filmmakers the opportunity to attend the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, DocShop filmmaker's forum, and a private seminar with leaders in the Indigenous filmmaking community and the film industry at large.
The program will be open to American Indian, Alaska Native and Hawaiian Native applicants who are US residents. The selected fellows will receive:
- One All Access pass to BSDFF (February 16-25, 2018) including all screenings, DocShop sessions, VIP events and special performances
- Five nights of accommodations during the festival
- One round trip ticket to Missoula, ground transportation arranged
- A cash stipend for meals and incidentals in Missoula
In addition to attending Big Sky, fellows will automatically qualify to participate in the 4th World Media Lab at the Seattle International Film Festival. Produced by Longhouse Media in partnership with the Seattle International Film Festival, the 4th World Media Lab is a professional development and community-building opportunity for emerging filmmakers. Created to support Native filmmakers by increasing access to classes and equipment, 4th World fellows take part in a 3-day filmmaking intensive during SIFF in Seattle Center. The lab will welcome Big Sky Native Filmmaker fellows to join the 4th World cohort, all expenses paid, for the lab’s fourth edition in May 2018.
The Big Sky Fellows program is part of an all-new Native Filmmaker Initiative, supported in part by a FilmWatch grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, to bring more Indigenous stories to the festival, support and engage the American Indian media arts community and have a greater impact on community youth.
The Native Filmmaker Fellows application is open now through November 10, 2017. Click below to apply!
Open Call for Audio Documentaries
Submissions for the most prolific documentary event in the American West are now open to another documentary form. The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival has issued an open call for audio documentaries for consideration in an all-new AudioDocs program to be presented at the 15th annual festival in Missoula, Montana, February 16-25, 2018.
The open call seeks sound-rich, true stories told creatively as audio documentaries, running between 3 minutes and 25 minutes. Entries may be submitted online through the Submittable platform, open now through Sunday, November 5, 2017. Selections will be made by a panel of radio broadcasters and audio producers working in partnership with the festival. AudioDocs is presented in partnership with National Public Radio affiliate Montana Public Radio (MTPR).
A program of the Big Sky Film Institute, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival has grown to become the premier venue for non-fiction film in the American West. The festival draws an audience of 20,000 and film entries from every corner of the globe to a uniquely intimate mountain town setting with local Montana flavor. For 15 years, Big Sky has continued to engage vibrant conversations evolving in the industry, pushing the definition of documentary to discover what lies at its boundaries. While Big Sky will always be a film festival, the audio documentary has recently been the fastest growing medium in the documentary field, with radio and podcasts enjoying a proverbial 21st century renaissance. At the 2017 festival, Big Sky dipped its toe in the audio pool, hosting a “Listen Lounge” where individuals could don a pair of headphones and indulge in locally produced audio documentaries.
“The Listen Lounge in 2017 exposed a desire for a more interactive and shared festival experience with the audio documentary medium,” says Big Sky Executive Director Rachel Gregg. “Audio stories and podcasts are often consumed independently, so we’re excited to explore the impact of audio documentary in a collective setting.”
Selections in the AudioDocs program will play in front of feature films at the festival, as well as at collective listening events where audiences can participate in a variety of activities, or simply kick back while taking in the audio doc. Big Sky will also include a deeper dive into audio documentary producing as part of the 2018 DocShop conference. Funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, DocShop is a 5-day forum that will spotlight the intersection of film and technology. Sound recording, audio editing and audio effects are all integral parts of producing a compelling documentary film. A panel of audio producers and film audio experts will discuss trends in audio doc that have implications for documentary film as well as the future of the audio documentary as a storytelling form.
More information on the AudioDocs program and submissions can be found at bigskyfilmfest.org/festival/audio_documentaries
CALL FOR ENTRIES NOW OPEN FOR THE 15TH ANNUAL BIG SKY DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
Submissions for the most prolific documentary event in the American West are open! Now accepting entries of non-fiction films of all forms, genres, subject matter and lengths for consideration in another world-class lineup in the 15th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.
Selected by Movie Maker Magazine's 2017 Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, BSDFF is an Oscar-qualifying event for short documentaries and showcases a variety of world, US and Northwest premieres. A competitive event, Big Sky offers cash awards for Best Documentary Feature, the Big Sky Award to the best film about the American West, Best Documentary Short and Best Mini Doc. The DocShop Filmmaker's Forum, a 5-day conference during BSDFF, features industry influencers exploring the trends and ideas shaping the field of documentary filmmaking, and hosts the Big Sky Pitch for works in progress.
The following 2018 submission deadlines apply:
Earlybird Deadline - June 30, 2017
Regular Deadline - September 1, 2017
Late Deadline - October 6, 2017
Programming over 90% of selections from the open call, the 10-day annual festival presents over 150 films from around the world to an audience of 20,000 in the beautiful mountain town of Missoula, Montana. Featuring a variety of public screenings, live events, VIP parties and special performances, BSDFF is an ideal setting for filmmakers to premiere new work and develop lasting relationships with fellow filmmakers and industry. The 15th annual festival takes place February 16-25, 2018.
Learn more and submit your film for consideration at www.bigskyfilmfest.org/submissions.
Big Sky Receives FilmWatch Grant from Academy for Native Filmmaker Intiative
The Big Sky Film Institute is proud to announce the launch of a Native Filmmaker Initiative made possible in part by FilmWatch grant funding from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Designed to bring more Indigenous stories to Missoula and engage the Native Filmmaking community across the Northwest, the initiative includes a Native Filmmakers Fellowship program, an Educational Outreach arm and special programming of Indigenous films at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.
The Academy's FilmWatch and FilmCraft grant programs were established to identify and empower future filmmakers from nontraditional backgrounds, cultivate new and diverse talent, promote motion pictures as an art form and provide a platform for underrepresented artists. Announced April 21st, grants were awarded to 44 organizations including the American Film Institute, International Documentary Association and the Sundance Institute, among many other prestigious film festivals, educational institutions and film scholars.
Honored to be selected by The Academy alongside so many distinguished programs, BSFI is thrilled to expand our capacity for Native content and partnerships. The Native Filmmaker Initiative will launch in the Fall of 2017. Programming and recruitment begin soon, stay tuned for more announcements!
MovieMaker Magazine selects Big Sky for 2017 “50 Best Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee”
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival is honored to be selected one of the “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” by MovieMaker Magazine for the second time in just four years. The list, created annually to help guide filmmakers contemplating their festival strategy, spotlights the benefits of screening at festivals outside the mainstream festival circuit. MovieMaker also points out the unique merits each event offers to help a film find impact in niche markets and expand collaboration networks.
MovieMaker’s 2017 selections focused on festivals that prioritize submissions (as opposed to special invitation or other means). Responding to feedback from a survey of online readers, MovieMaker also sought festivals that provided a venue to “forge a genuine connection with audiences who are truly engaged.”
“To receive this honor from MovieMaker on the heels of our 14th festival is a cherry on top of a huge year for Big Sky,” says BSDFF director Rachel Gregg. “We screened in more venues than ever before and welcomed more filmmakers and industry to Montana than ever before, but success for us is not really about getting bigger. We aim to cultivate value and impact for the documentary filmmaking community and nurture the art form for both creators and consumers of the medium. It's exciting to be listed among a host of incredible festivals helping elevate independent film and auteurs. We owe it to the overwhelming support of the Missoula community, our filmmaker alum, and the industry for making Big Sky something really special.”
News of this selection comes just weeks before Big Sky’s call for entries for the 2018 festival. Submissions open May 15 with a discounted early bird entry fee for films submitted by June 30, 2017.
2017 Award Winners
Announcing the 2017 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Award Winners
The festival, which wraps up 10 days of the best in documentary filmmaking from around the world this Sunday (Feb. 26), awards four major prizes, two of which are Oscar-qualifying. A selection of award-winning films will screen on Sunday, Feb. 26 at the Roxy Theater at 10am and 12:30pm.
The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival is just about to wrap 10 days of eye-opening, thought-provoking, and diverse nonfiction filmmaking. With over 200 films in the festival, the following competition films have been given awards in our four categories.
Four BSDFF 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 of the Short Documentary and Mini-Doc competitions automatically qualify for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar consideration in the Documentary Short category for 2017.
Says Festival Director Rachel Gregg: "We're extremely proud to have been able to share these incredibly accomplished films with the people of Montana and all our visiting guests. We're thrilled to provide an opportunity for these movies to find an even larger audience thanks to the reach of these prestigious awards. Thanks to our juries for making the hard decisions!"
BIG SKY AWARD
Presented to one film that artistically honors the character, history, tradition and imagination of the American West
Sponsored by First Interstate Bank
Jury: Sean O’Brien (University of Montana), Tenzin Phuntsog (Montana State University), and Bryan Bello (Filmmaker).
Melinda Janko, 2016, USA, 76 minutes / Montana Premiere
100 Years is the David vs. Goliath story of Elouise Cobell’s courageous fight for justice for 300,000 Native Americans whose mineral rich lands were mismanaged by the United States Government. For 30 years Elouise Cobell fought “the good fight.” This is the compelling true story of how she prevailed and made history.
Big Sky Artistic Vision Award
Dan Grimus , 2016, USA, 73 minutes / World Premiere
OYATE is a film about life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. It follows two families as they go about their daily activities over the course of a single summer. They attend rodeos, shoot clay pigeons, and participate in pow wows. Family members get married, have children, and celebrate the 4th of July. All the while, the difficult, often intractable realities of modern reservation life threaten to encroach upon them.
Jury statement: In recognition of the film’s artistic merit, approach and cinematography, the jury presents Dan Grimus’s OYATE the Artistic Vision Award for its cinematic eye, observational gaze, and ability to capture the beauty in the everyday.
MINI DOC COMPETITION
Films 15 minutes and under
Jury members: Daniel Junge (Filmmaker), Gianna Savoie (Ocean Media Institute), and Mark Vargo (Cinematographer).
WINNER: THE FOURTH KINGDOM
Alex Lora, Adan Aliaga, 2017, Spain, USA, 14 minutes / World Premiere
The Fourth Kingdom is the kingdom of plastics, a redemption center in NY for immigrants and underdogs where the American Dream becomes possible indeed.
Films between 15 and 40 minutes in length
Jury: Daniel Cross (Filmmaker), Deia Schlosberg (Filmmaker), and Joy Dietrich (MSU)
Mari Bakke Riise, 2016, Norway, 32 minutes / North American Premiere
In the capital of Ghana, 10,000 girls from the ages of 6 work as real life shopping baskets - called Kayayo, carrying heavy loads on their head (from 130 to 220 pounds), earning very little and some end up in prostitution to make ends meet. This documentary is about Bamunu, an 8-year old girl who hasn’t seen her family since she was sent away from home two years ago to work as a Kayayo to support her family. We follow her incessant longing to get away from the harsh markets, her journey back home and what awaits there.
Shorts Competition Artistic Vision Award
WINNER: THE RAIN WILL FOLLOW
Eugene Richards, 2016, USA — 15 minutes / Northwest Premiere
Though confined to a nursing home, 90-year-old Melvin Wisdahl lives an interior life, filled with images of the war he fought in, the struggles of the early Norwegian settlers of North Dakota, his ghost town of a home, his love of the ever-evolving and threatened land.
Jury Statement: The jury presents an Artistic Vision Award to THE RAIN WILL FOLLOW, which beautifully marries internal and external landscape imagery in a way that infuses the whole film with a third complete and powerful through line.
Films over 40 minutes in length
Jury: Nadine Ajaka (The Atlantic), Anne Devereaux (Filmmaker), and Bryan Glick (The Film Collaborative)
WINNER: CRADLE OF CHAMPIONS
Bartle B Bull, 2017, USA, 100 minutes / Northwest Premiere
Fighting for your life in the city of dreams. Three extraordinary young people battle to change their lives through the three-month odyssey of the New York Daily News Golden Gloves—the biggest, oldest, most important amateur boxing tournament in the world.
Feature Competition Artistic Vision Award
WINNER: LET THERE BE LIGHT
Mila Aung-Thwin, 2017, Canada, 100 minutes / World Premiere
LET THERE BE LIGHT follows the story of dedicated scientists working to build a small sun on Earth, which would unleash perpetual, cheap, clean energy for mankind. After decades of failed attempts, a massive push is now underway to crack the holy grail of energy.
Jury Statement - In recognition of the film’s artistic merit and educational value, the jury presents LET THERE BE LIGHT with an Artistic Vision Award for its cinematic eye, innovative animation, and engaging (passionate) investigation into the future of fusion (clean energy).
Spotlight on Sponsors: Montana Film Office
The Montana Film Office is an award-winning office of film and PR professionals. Established in 1974, the Film Office is a component of the Montana Department of Commerce dedicating themselves to promoting the state of Montana as a filming location to the film/TV/ print industries and inviting those productions into Montana for the overall economic benefit of the state, assisting producers in finding locations to fit their scripts and acting as a liaison through every phase of production, and nurturing and supporting the development of their resident crew base, as well as resident Montana filmmakers.
The Montana Film Office will be sponsoring 2017's BSDFF filmmaker reception on Saturday, February 25th at the Dana Gallery, and will also be assisting in travel costs to bring filmmakers to the festival, continuing to foster the development of the film industry in Montana.
Learn more about the Montana Film Office here.
The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival lights up downtown Missoula for 10 days every February, bring stories from across the globe to our beautiful and eclectic mountain town, create a vibrant, quality event that gathers our engaged community, and expand the knowledge and conversation around issues that matter. The success of the festival is defined by the marvelous support and enthusiasm of Missoula businesses, organizations, non-profits, theaters and dedicated patrons. THANK YOU.
Spotlight on Sponsors: S & K Technologies
As part of an economic development plan established by tribal leadership, S & K Technologies has a commitment to providing gainful education, employment and training for the tribal community, and strive to provide a yearly shareholder dividend that is directly invested in social and economic programs for their people.
S & K Technologies will be a sponsor for this year's BSDFF film strand titled, Indigenous Visions, staying true to their commitment to the inclusion of the tribal community and continuing the education and conversations around indigenous cultures.
More information about S & K Technologies at http://www.sktcorp.com/
The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival lights up downtown Missoula for 10 days every February, bring stories from across the globe to our beautiful and eclectic mountain town, create a vibrant, quality event that gathers our engaged community and expand the knowledge and conversation around the issues that matter. The success of the festival is defined by the marvelous support and enthusiasm of Missoula businesses, organizations, non-profits, theaters and dedicated patrons. THANK YOU.
Spotlight on Sponsors: Tribeca Film Institute
The Tribeca Film Institute is a year-round non-profit organization rooted in the energetic locale of New York City. Founded in the wake of September 11th, 2001 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, Tribeca connects filmmakers to audiences to continue conversations brought to the table by socially-relevant documentary and scripted films. Each year, Tribeca Film Institute identifies a diverse group of exceptional filmmakers and media artists to provide funding for their work, giving them the resources to fully realize their stories. Tribeca also offers a number of educational programs to empower students through hands-on training, encouraging creativity and global engagement for young people across the nation.
Tribeca Film Institute is a sponsor of BSDFF 2017's DocShop, bringing expertise and creative visions to panels and workshops throughout the week and supporting BSDFF's aspirations to inspire filmmakers, innovators, students and media industry leaders to continue exploring the cutting-edge ideas in the field of documentary film.
The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival lights up downtown Missoula for 10 days every February, bring stories from across the globe to our beautiful and eclectic mountain town, create a vibrant, quality event that gathers our engaged community, and expand the knowledge and conversation around issues that matter. The success of the festival is defined by the marvelous support and enthusiasm of Missoula businesses, organizations, non-profits, theaters and dedicated patrons. THANK YOU.