Flathead Lake International Cinemafest Gearing Up for 10th Year

Polson’s Showboat Cinemas theater will host a range of films, including some with local ties

By Mike Kordenbrock
Park Ranger Doug Follett as featured in the documentary short film,” Your Friend, Ranger Doug" to be screened at the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest in Polson from Jan. 28-30, 2022. Photo by Céline François.

The Flathead Lake International Cinemafest in Polson will be marking its 10th year later this month with a slate of short and feature length films, and organizers behind the event are excited about the festival’s growing reputation.  

The three-day event beginning Jan. 28 and ending Jan. 30 will showcase dozens of films across two screens at the Showboat Cinemas theater.

“There are some local Montana films, and then we have beautiful films from overseas. It’s just a grab-bag,” said David King, a filmmaker who is the director and co-producer for the festival.

One short film, “Feeling Through,” tells the story of a chance encounter on the streets of New York City between a teen and a man who is deaf and blind. According to King, it is the first film to star a deaf blind actor in a lead role.

“It’s just a beautiful film that was actually nominated for an Academy Award,” King said.

A theatre screening a film for the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest. Courtesy photo

Some of the films at this year’s festival have local ties. “The Angler” is a short film about a fisherman and a woman whose fishing lines become tangled when they encounter each other on a pier. The screenplay was written by Whitefish resident Matt Beacham, who plays the lead male role opposite his wife Emily Beacham. In the film Emily Beacham’s character is the mother of a child, who is the couple’s child in real life.

“They’re just a fascinating couple, and the film is just a beautiful short film,” King said.

Another film “Your Friend, Ranger Doug,” is a short documentary about 94-year-old Glacier National Park Ranger Doug Follet reflecting on the future of the park, climate change, and on his own life and legacy.

Also included in this year’s festival is a screening of the original “Jurassic Park” movie that will include a talk and audience discussion with producer Jerry Molen. Molen has attended the festival in the past for a screening and discussion of “Schindler’s List,” which he also produced.

The festival will also feature an evening event called “Comedians in Chairs Eating Popcorn,” which will include stand-up comedy from Adam Yenser, who has worked as a comedy writer on “The Ellen DeGeneres” show, and also Brian Kiley, who has worked as the head writer for the “Conan” show featuring comedian Conan O’Brien.

King said that in the film festival circuit a festival’s longevity, including whether or not it’s been around for double digit years, helps in developing a reputation.

“It makes a big difference when people are looking for festivals, and there are literally thousands of festivals around the world, and they start clicking around to see what’s there. It makes a big difference if you’ve been around for a few years. An awful lot of festivals it’s their first year and it’s not quite as exciting, as a filmmaker, to submit there as it is to submit to a festival that has some pedigree, if you will,” King said. “FLIC has a reputation and it’s gaining a reputation, it’s gaining in its profile amongst the film community and we do have people now that are traveling across the globe to come and join us and it’s just very exciting. This year we have 24 filmmakers planning to attend the festival.”

COVID-19 is expected to have an effect on turnout this year, but King said the event will be held in-person. Last year virtual attendance was an option for the festival.

“This year we’re doing the festival because the theater is open for business,” King said. “We’re getting some calls from filmmakers asking us ‘Are you going to cancel the festival because of the new outbreaks and things?’ and our response is ‘You attend if you’re comfortable doing it, and if you’re not comfortable stay home.’ We don’t want people to be uncomfortable, but our philosophy is life goes on, and we take precautions as we’re able.”

Jessica King, a filmmaker and co-producer of the festival who is married to David, said that a couple years ago the festival had 30 to 40 filmmakers in attendance, and that last year there were a dozen or so. This year falls in the middle, she said.

“Filmmakers are so excited to share their films in person with an in-person audience,” she said. “It’s special. You invest so much of your time, your blood, sweat and tears, you invest so much into these films, and you think these stores are really important and worth sharing, otherwise you wouldn’t be making this film, right?”

“It’s just really affirming,” she added.

For more information on the festival, including how to buy tickets, go to www.flicpolson.com.