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About the Festival



Now entering its 20th year, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival is the premier venue for non-fiction film in the American West. Big Sky offers an ideal setting for filmmakers to premiere new work and develop lasting relationships with fellow filmmakers and industry. 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 a local Montana flavor. Selected for 5 years running by MovieMaker Magazine's 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, BSDFF is a top-100 rated festival on FilmFreeway and is an Academy Award qualifying festival for short documentaries.

The annual 10-day event takes place each February in downtown Missoula, Montana. In 2022 the festival took place both in-person and online.

The festival hosts over 200 visiting artists, presents an average of 150 non-fiction films, and offers a variety of exciting events at the historic theater The Wilma and neighboring downtown Missoula venues. In addition to screenings, the Big Sky DocShop is a five-day industry event that includes panels, master classes, workshops, and the Big Sky Pitch session. DocShop’s participants have included: HBO Documentary Films, Showtime Documentary Films, Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance Doc Fund, The New York Times Op-Docs, ESPN Films, Participant Media, BBC Storyville, CNN Films, ITVS, POV, PBS, America ReFramed, American Experience, Al Jazeera, Nia Tero, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Field of Vision, Film Independent, Ford Foundation and Catapult Film Fund.

Special retrospective programs have included the films of: Barbara Kopple, The Maysles Brothers, Travis Wilkerson, Joe Berlinger, Julia Reichert & Steven Bognar, Lucy Walker, Ondi Timoner, Doug Pray, Daniel Junge, Bill & Turner Ross, Chuck Workman, Jeff & Michael Zimbalist, Sam Green, John Cohen, EyeSteelFilm, Kartemquin Films, and Les Blank. Special guests have included Indy Rock legends Yo La Tengo, Comedian Tig Notaro, Steve James (Hoop Dreams), Les Blank (Burden of Dreams), Greg Barker (Sergio), Joe Berlinger (Crude), Ron Mann (Grass), Brendan Canty & Christoph Green (the Burn To Shine series), Chuck Workman (The Life & Times of Andy Warhol), and Hart & Dana Heinz Perry (Sex: The Revolution).

Recent Award winners at the festival have included: Colette (Anthony Giacchino), Public Trust (David Garrett Byars), St. Louis Superman (Smriti Mundhra, Sami Khan), My Country No More (Rita Baghdadi, Jeremiah Hammerling), Cradle of Champions (Bartle Bull), The Last of the Elephant Men (Daniel Ferguson, Arnaud Bouquet), Siblings are Forever (Frode Fimland), A World Not Ours (Mahdi Fleifel), This Way Of Life (Thomas Burstyn), Steam of Life (Joonas Berghäll & Mika Hotakainen), Blood Brother (Steve Hoover), Chasing Ice (Jeff Orlowski), Last Train Home (Lixin Fan), Sweetgrass (Ilisa Barbash & Lucien Castaing-Taylor), Gasland (Josh Fox), Rough Aunties (Kim Longinotto), Ashes of American Flags (Brendan Canty & Christoph Green), In A Dream (Jeremiah Zagar), and Bronx Princess (Yoni Brook & Musa Syeed). Find the complete list of Award winners here.

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Explore the Wrap Report for the latest (virtual!) edition of the Big Sky Documentary Film festival at