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Film

Backcountry Film Festival Comes to Whitefish

Presented by Winter Wildlands Alliance, the 19th annual festival is screening documentaries and ski movies about mountain snowsports, athletes, arts and the environment

By Tristan Scott
Sierra Schlag navigates the world after losing her father on 9/11, exploring her grief and identity as a Japanese-American while also finding herself under the cloak of depression. While she navigates these complexities, Sierra finds a way to connect with her dad and heal through skiing. Courtesy photo

The mountain town of Whitefish is one of six stops on the 19th annual Backcountry Film Festival’s tour of the Treasure State as organizers promote a slate of winter-sports themed films. Scheduled to appear in Whitefish on Feb. 6, the festival is just in time to deliver a dose of stoke for snow-starved locals.

The film festival will be hosted by the Whitefish Theatre Company at the O’Shaughnessy Center, located at 1 Central Avenue in downtown Whitefish. Doors open at 6:15 p.m., and the screening begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at wildmontana.org/fkc/bcff or at the door.

Presented by Winter Wildlands Alliance, the Backcountry Film Festival celebrates “human-powered recreation and wild winters.”

The festival raises funds for local groups and nonprofits through a national film tour directly benefiting local projects and programs that promote access and stewardship of public lands. The Whitefish screening will benefit Wild Montana’s Flathead-Kootenai Chapter, which unites and mobilizes communities to keep Montana wild by organizing trail maintenance projects, leading free group hikes that connect people with wild public lands, and hosting educational community events.

“Beyond Begbie” is a short film about how a Revelstoke peak has created an entire contemporary culture that only represents colonial history, with no reference to the Indigenous heritage of the land. Courtesy photo

“For nearly 20 years, the festival has sparked conversations about the human connection to wild places, encouraged grassroots activism in the face of warming winters, and inspired stewardship of our wild public lands and waters,” according to a press release announcing the tour. “Festival-goers will enjoy films featuring backcountry experiences, conservation efforts, and personal stories of reflection and discovery while traversing wild landscapes.”

At the Whitefish screening, attendees will have a chance to win prizes donated by local businesses, including lift tickets at Whitefish Mountain Resort, a six-person raft trip with Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, gift certificates for Polebridge Mercantile, Tamarack Ski Shop, Tap House, Glacier Cyclery and Nordic, and more. Sierra Nevada Brewing has also graciously donated a variety of their beers.

The other community dates and locations include Feb. 4 at the Art House Cinema & Pub in Billings; Feb. 9 at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls; Feb. 20 at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky; Feb. 23 at Hamilton City Hall in Hamilton; and Feb. 25 at Lewis & Clark Brewery in Helena.

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