Celebrating the Silver Screen

Film aficionado brings Hollywood's bygone era to Bigfork retro festival

By Tristan Scott

Steve Shapero isn’t interested in the wildly popular Marvel Cinematic Universe film franchise, which has become Hollywood’s most dependable revenue trough as film after film cycles through the industry’s turnstiles.

The catalog of modern blockbusters he has seen is thin, but his love for classic films and movies that shaped history, as well as the industry, is profound.

Three years ago, the cinephile was inspired to launch the Bigfork Film Festivals to celebrate Hollywood’s most iconic pictures in the fall and the state’s growing roster of independent filmmakers in the spring.

Beginning Friday, Oct. 5 at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts, Shapero will open the Third Annual Bigfork Retro Film Festival with a showing of director Steven Spielberg’s classics — “Jaws,” which was released in 1975 and redefined the modern day blockbuster, and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” released in 1977. The films will show at 6:15 p.m. and 9 p.m., respectively.

On Saturday, Oct. 6, features include “Toy Story,” “Hook,” “Key Largo,” “Blackboard Jungle,” and “Psycho.”

Offerings on Sunday include “Annie Sing Along,” “Grease,” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

For all times and festival events, visit bigforkfilmfestival.com.

Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay area, Shapero developed an affinity for film at an early age, posting up outside of theaters and spending the entire day mesmerized by the silver screen.

“When I was a kid my parents used to take me down to Universal Studios and we got to see how they made movies,” Shapero, 63, said. “It was a different world back then. It’s a different industry today.”

With films like “Casablanca” and “The Godfather” at the top of his list of favorites, Shapero’s motivation to create a local film festival was driven by a desire to share classic films with audiences the way they were designed to be viewed — on the big screen.

After he and his wife moved to Bigfork nine years ago and she became involved with a community theater group, Shapero discovered that the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts had a film projector and he began devising the festival.

“That was my motivation to bring these films to the theater so people can see these movies in a way they have never before experienced,” he said. “I wanted to share movies so people could see them in the way they were meant to be seen.”

Not only do festival-goers have the chance to see the pictures on the big screen, but Shapero will deliver introductions before each film, while special guests include legendary cinematographer Bill Butler, who was director of photography on the film “Jaws,” and also shot “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “The Conversation,” and three “Rocky” sequels, and Peter Ford, actor, biographer and son of Glenn Ford, who played the lead role in “Blackboard Jungle,” a controversial 1955 social commentary about teachers at an inner-city school.

“To have someone like Bill Butler attend the festival is just remarkable,” Shapero said. “He’s 97 and he worked on some of the greatest films of all time. He shot ‘Jaws’ on the coast and had to design special equipment for the underwater shots and to keep the cameras steady on rough seas. That was a challenging film to shoot and we’re looking forward to hearing his experience.”

Adult moviegoers have the option of purchasing either an All Access Pass for $30, a VIP Pass for $50 or tickets to individual showings for $10 a seat. Seniors and children 12 years or younger receive discounts.