Bigfork Independent Film Festival Returns for Fifth Year

The festival will feature 25 films either shot in Montana or by Montana filmmakers from Oct. 8-10 at the Bigfork Center for Performing Arts

By Maggie Dresser
A scene from “The Beast of Our Time” a film screening at the Bigfork Independent Film Festival. Courtesy image

The Bigfork Independent Film Festival (BIFF) is back in Flathead this fall for its fifth annual showing from Oct. 8-10, featuring 25 diverse films that were either shot in Montana or by Montana filmmakers.

“We mixed it up,” festival organizer Steven Shapero said. “We try not to pigeonhole everything into only showing mountains and skiing. It’s all kinds of films in Montana.”

Festival organizers received 75 film submissions this past year, at least 25 more than normal, Shapero said most of them are higher quality than years past.

Because of the higher volume of films, Shapero says organizers were able to choose more diverse genres and topics this year, which range from a documentary about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) crisis, to a fictional story about a retired college professor and his transgender daughter.

“We’re delving into topics we’ve never delved into,” Shapero said.

Several films feature local talent from Northwest Montana, including “The Deal,” a music video featuring Flathead Valley singer Halladay Quist, “Black Ram,” a documentary shot in the Kootenai National Forest, and “The Irish Ballad,” featuring Mission Valley musicians.

A scene from “Wilds Animal” a film screening at the Bigfork Independent Film Festival. Courtesy image

Unique to BIFF, an international documentary called “Peckinpah Suite” will be featured. Directed by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Gonzalez Burmudez, the film documents famous Hollywood film director Sam Peckinpah’s daughter who travels to her father’s last shelter in Livingston, 35 years after his death.

Film workshops return to the festival on Friday, Oct. 8 after they were canceled last year due to the pandemic. Flathead Valley filmmaker Ridge Mallery will present financing strategies and share how he got his films on streaming services in “Make Your Movie Make Money.” In the afternoon, Hollywood story analyst and script consultant Barbara Schiffman will present “How to Pitch Your Film and Script in 3 Minutes or Less.”

In addition to film showings, several filmmakers will be at BIFF to answer questions for the audience.

BIFF is also collaborating with the Winterland Film Festival and Technology Summit, which will hold its inaugural event in March 2022 in Whitefish.

“The Winterland Film Festival is a cross between a film festival and a TED Talk,” Shapero said. “They are doing an international film festival and we focus on stuff in the state so we thought we could partner. We manage the local filmmaking and they take on the rest.”

A scene from “Peckinpah Suite” a film screening at the Bigfork Independent Film Festival. Courtesy image

Shapero says organizers at both BIFF and Winterland have a mutually beneficial collaboration, helping each other with design and festival logistics, while some of BIFF’s award-winning films will be featured in March.

A kickoff party will be held at the Riverview Bar in Bigfork on Thursday, Oct. 7 with a free screening of “Your Musical is Cancelled: The Musical,” a film made by local Flathead Valley talent.

BIFF will show Oct. 8-10 at the Bigfork Center for Performing Arts and includes an awards ceremony on Saturday at the Bigfork Inn.

Certain rows will be blocked off to encourage social distancing, hand sanitizer will be available and there will be only packaged food at the concession stand. Masks will not be required.

For more information and to watch the festival virtually, visit www.mtbiff.com.

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