International Wildlife Film Festival Visits Whitefish

By Beacon Staff

Celebrating its 30th year, the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula drew quite a crowd last May. For those who missed it, a handful of winning films visit Whitefish this Friday night as a fundraiser for the Flathead-Kootenai Chapter of Montana Wilderness Association. Four of the films to be shown ranked as award winners.

The 57-minute “Christmas in Yellowstone” headlines the evening with footage of winter landscapes and wildlife in America’s first national park. In this PBS documentary, which aired as a feature on the program “NATURE,” filmmaker Shane Moore trailed after Tom Murphy, a writer and photographer who has tromped through Yellowstone for 26 winters. Highlights include scenes of climbing into a grizzly bear den during hibernation. The film won four awards during the International Wildlife Film Festival.

Winning the Merit Award for Creative Approach, “Irani Wildlife” is a 26-minute poetic and cinematic look at wildlife in Iran. Made by an Irani filmmaking couple, the film contains footage of Middle Eastern creatures rarely seen on screen.

Two shorter award winning films hone in on Flathead Valley. A 12-minute film called “Snowies” watches the snowy owls that congregate in the southern Flathead each winter. Made by Elliott Kennerson, a science and natural history filmmaker at Montana State University, the film follows bird-watcher and fellow filmmaker Jeremy Roberts as the pair go owling. Winning Best of Category for Youth 13 and up, the shortest film at four minutes is called “Yoki’s Family.” Filmmaker Jennifer Bell briefly tells the story of Karelian bear dogs used in northwest Montana for training bears.

Tickets for the September 28 showing at the O’Shaughnessy Center are $10 per person. They are sold in five outlets across Flathead Valley: Montana Coffee Traders in Whitefish and Columbia Falls, Books West and Rocky Mountain Outfitters in Kalispell, and Electric Avenue Gifts in Bigfork. If spaces are available, remaining tickets will be sold at the door.