Montana Film Office

Montana Film Office • 301 South Park Ave Helena, MT 59620 • tel: 800.553.4563 • 406.841.2876 • fax: 406.841.2877 • AFCI Member


Guide to Montana Connections at 2016 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

Laurel_BigSkyBuilt by the passion and commitment of some of Montana’s most talented filmmakers, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival has grown to be the largest cinema event in Montana, and we can’t wait to see the talents of Montana’s homegrown film industry featured in this annual event.

We’ve combed through the 2016 lineup with the help of Big Sky Doc Fest to provide a preview of the films with Montana connections you can see on the big screen at this year’s festival February 19-28 in downtown Missoula. Scroll down to find out more and click titles to find trailers and more information on the doc fest website,


From Elizabeth Lo, director of critically acclaimed short “Hotel 22,” BISONHEAD chronicles a family of Ponderai Native Americans who journey through Yellowstone to take part in a controversial wild bison hunt. It glimpses into the continued marginalization of indigenous cultures in the American West, and questions what it means to assert a tribal heritage in the modern world. BISONHEAD makes its world premiere at BSDFF in competition for the Big Sky Award.

Blackfeet Art of the Northern Plains

On the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana, Lauren Monroe Jr. discusses the importance of preserving Blackfeet identity in a modern world and how he tries do so in his painting. Directed by Montana filmmaker Eddie Roqueta, this short film will make its world premiere at BSDFF.


The Bug: Life and Times of the People’s Car

From Missoula filmmaker Damon Ristau, this is the world premiere of the story of the most beloved and recognizable automobile on Earth, the Volkswagen Beetle. It’s the car that gave mobility to the masses and captured the hearts and minds of generations. From Nazi Germany to the Summer of Love and into the heart of the largest corporate scandal in automotive history, this is the story of the People’s Car.

Charlie: A Climbing Film

Charlie Barron, a Billings Montana local, is sixteen years old, a junior in high school, and arguably the best rock climber for hundreds of miles. This is the story of his First Ascent on Billings’ hardest boulder rock climb – the Neanderthal Project. Graded at v12, this boulder problem is only climbable for an elite few, mostly professional athletes. However, no other climber has tried Neanderthal due to the crumbling nature of Rimrock Sandstone and the unpopularity of the city as a climbing destination. Watch as Charlie claims his hometown area, suffers through an injury, and manages to inspire the entire community of climbers with his achievement.

The Fight to Follow

In a time where music is virtually free, former Soul Asylum sideman, George McKelvey struggles to make a living as a full-time musician.  Still gigging in the dive bars of a once vibrant Minneapolis music scene, George is torn between a full time day job, fatherhood, and recording a solo project with longtime friend and super producer John Fields.  In The Fight to Follow his heart, can George survive long enough to find relevance? THE FIGHT TO FOLLOW is directed by Missoula company Warm Springs Productions filmmakers Ajax Broome and Chris Richardson and will world premiere at Big Sky.

In Transit

IN TRANSIT journeys into the hearts and minds of everyday passengers aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder, the busiest long-distance train route in America. Captured in the tradition of Direct Cinema, the film unfolds as a series of interconnected vignettes, ranging from overheard conversations to moments of deep intimacy, in which passengers share their fears, hopes and dreams. In the space between stations, where ‘real life’ is suspended, we are swept into a fleeting community that transcends normal barriers, and where a peculiar atmosphere of contemplation and community develops. To some passengers, the train is flight and salvation, to others it is reckoning and loss. But for all, it is a place for personal reflection and connecting with others they may otherwise never know.


The rugged badlands crossing Montana and North Dakota have seen dramatic economic booms and equally devastating busts, from the homesteading days to waves of explosive oil development. Makoshika weaves stories of diverse communities and intriguing characters experiencing today’s oil boom, while looking to its history to understand this fascinating region. From a dedicated team of Montana filmmakers including Jessican Jane Hart and Peter Tolton, MAKOSHIKA makes it’s much anticipated world premiere at Big Sky.

The Max Wave

The Max Wave is an informative short documentary about The Max Wave project happening in Missoula. This wave project will have a great impact on Missoula, cleaning up a dilapidated part of the Clark Fork River, bringing economic growth to downtown and providing another place of recreation for Missoula youth. Directed by local Missoula kayaker Darby Mcadams, THE MAX WAVE is a Big Sky world premiere.

The Middle Kingdom

From Bozeman based filmmaker and Bozeman Doc Series director Jason Burlage comes the world premiere of THE MIDDLE KINGDOM. Through the juxtaposition of the real daily lives of the people of a Shanghai neighborhood and the inner lives they reveal to a local fortune teller, a complex portrait of modern Chinese society comes into focus.

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, a feature-length documentary from the popular simple-living duo The Minimalists (Missoula locals Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Milburn), examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life.

The Montana Sessions

THE MONTANA SESSIONS is a collection of short films featuring some of Montana’s finest musicians performing in beautiful outdoor settings across the state. The series includes everything from classical violin played in the Paradise Valley to hard-rock slide guitar in the Mission Mountains. Featuring Musicians: Wartime Blues, Angella Ahn, Dan Dubuque, Halladay and Rob Quist, and Little Jane and the Pistol Whips.

Never Too Late

Shad Blair, a 36 year old plumber living in Stevensville, MT chases his childhood dream of becoming a professional basketball player.  He heads to the Las Vegas Overseas Combine to see if he has what it takes to play with the very best.

The Shepherd of Missoula

Missoula based filmmaker Ian Frank presents a profile of Enrique Marquez who is from Chihuahua, Mexico and has worked with hundreds of sheep on the hills surrounding Missoula, Montana for nine years. He is responsible for clearing the entire mountain of noxious weeds which would otherwise be sprayed with chemicals. His work allows wildflowers to keep on blooming.

Skips Stones for Fudge

For over a decade, Russ “Rock Bottom” Byars and Kurt “Mountain Man” Steiner have endured a rivalry that lifted competitive stone skipping to unthinkable heights. Tested by physical ailments, emotional hardships and the rise of young talent, these obscure legends fight to cement their place in the record books. From Missoula based Highway Goat Productions director Ryan Seitz, SKIPS STONES FOR FUDGE is a world premiere at BSDFF.

The Smell of Cedars Steeped in Rain

The Smell of Cedars Steeped in Rain is a short film about a quiet autumn in Olympic National Park. No words, just a beautiful place set to the music of Washington band Rabbit Wilde. It’s also a love letter to the park, to the Pacific Northwest, to the experience of letting yourself be immersed in nature and finding renewal. This film is directed by Montana State University film school MFA candidate Eliza Goode.


Woodfire follows Missoula ceramics artist Casey Zablocki through the extensive process of firing a traditional anagama wood fired kiln. The film focuses on the hard work and tireless efforts that are required to create a unique form of ceramic art.

Yaya the Wise Man

Yaya means father in the Ecuadorian amazon where a dialect of Kichwa is spoken.  This indigenous language is not being passed on, as outside forces beyond the cultural adaptability of Kichwa people, leaves their elders isolated in silence.  At the core of one mans greatest conflict lays a conviction to teach his son the ways of his culture. A passion project from Missoula based director Ian Frank, YAYA makes its world premiere at BSDFF.



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Montana Film Office • 301 South Park Ave Helena, MT 59620 • tel: 800.553.4563 • 406.841.2876 • fax: 406.841.2877 •