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Big Sky Documentary Film Festival line up

The 2004 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival will be held at the recently-restored Roxy Theater in downtown Missoula February 20-25, 2004. The festival will showcase 75 non-fiction films from all styles, formats and production dates, from the most innovative and timely new films to classics and rare historic works. "We are honored to show some of the best non-fiction films from around the world," said festival director Doug Hawes-Davis. "With over 500 entries, it was no easy task to choose this year's films. Our goal from the start was to choose the most artistic, original, poignant documentaries, and I'm happy to say that these films far surpassed our expectations. We have some of the truly best from the genre of documentary film."

Festival audiences will view films on a wide range of topics, including several world and U.S. premiers. It will also feature a selection of films by some of the finest Montana non-fiction filmmakers. Nearly all of the selections will be shown for the first time to Montana audiences. Viewers will have a rare opportunity to see and hear from many of the filmmakers present at the screenings, who will be available to answer questions and talk about their work.

Films range in length from 30 second shorts to a 350 minute, six-part series. Countries of origin include Slovakia, Germany, Australia, USA, Canada, and Palestine. Original production formats range from 35mm (the Hollywood standard) to a digital still camera set on movie mode.

"We believe that Missoula will be enthusiastic about the films that we are bringing to the community," said festival director Doug Hawes-Davis. He continues by stating, "Audiences here are interested in a broad range of issues, appreciate cinematic artistry, and are looking for films that are both substantive and entertaining. It is with the Missoula audience in mind that we programmed the festival offerings."

"Documentary film is gaining a wider audience, and productions like Bowling for Columbine, Spellbound, and Capturing the Friedman's are recent examples which show that the genre can be commercially successful. Despite the successes of documentary film in gaining a wider audience, there is still a negative stereotype that documentary film is boring. This year¹s festival line-up blows that stereotype out of the water."

"The recent feature doc category is particularly strong. We received so many incredible films that were over 50 minutes in length, it was extremely difficult to make final selections," stated pre-screener Tom Platt.

Among the selected feature documentaries are Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky's Horns and Halos, Butte, Montana native Travis Wilkerson's An Injury to One, Thomas Riedelsheimer's Rivers and Tides, Steve James¹ Stevie, and Hart Perry's Valley of Tears.

The "emotionally complex" (Newsweek) Horns and Halos examines the fate of a best selling book, Fortunate Son, which contains allegations that President George W. Bush used cocaine in the past. The book was pulled out of circulation by the original publisher after the author was discredited. Horns and Halos examines the efforts of a small independent press to republish the book.

Rivers and Tides explores the extraordinary work of Scottish sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, whose work with wood, stone, water, and ice will leave the audience amazed and wanting to see more of his creations.

In Nine Good Teeth, director Alex Halpern ferrets out the most painful aspects of his family's mysterious and painful past through interviews with his 104-year old grandmother. The result is an intimate and often hilarious portrait of an Italian-American family. Nine Good Teeth Producer, Madeleine Leskin, will be in attendance to take questions from the audience and discuss her film.

An Injury to One documents a particularly volatile moment in early 20th century American labor history: the unsolved murder of Wobbly organizer Frank Little, a story whose grisly details have taken on a legendary status in Montana. Through unique storytelling and hauntingly beautiful still life images, Wilkerson unravels the mysteries.

In the film Stevie, director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) returns to his hometown of Pomona, Illinois to document what has become of the lonely boy he had been a mentor 'Big Brother' to in 1985. What he finds is surprising and troubling. The creators of Stevie, from Kartemquin Films in Chicago, will be in attendance at the festival. Also showing at the festival is Kartemquin's 350-minute epic 2003 release, The New Americans. In Valley of Tears, director Hart Perry (cinematographer - Harlan Country, USA) documents the difficult lives of Mexican-American migrant farm workers in Raymondville, Texas over a twenty year period.

"A great number of films about music and films about Middle Eastern politics and culture were entered for us to consider. Consequently, we have many extraordinary works from those subject areas," said Festival Director, Doug Hawes-Davis.

Middle Eastern films include Jenin, Jenin, The Hidden Wars of Desert Storm, Return to Kandahar, and Sadaa E Zan (Voices of Women).

Music documentary¹s include the world premiers of Josh Aronson's Feelin' No Pain and Chris Sautter's So Glad I Made It, historic works like John Cohen's End of An Old Song (1971), and several recent features including The Ballad of Berring Strait, (Nina Seavey), King of Bluegrass (George Goehl), and I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (Sam Jones).

Other World and United States Premiers include John Walker's Men of the Deeps, Slovakian director Peter Kerekes¹ quirky 66 Seasons, and Chris Boebel and Nick Poppy's environmental history film, Containment: Life After Three Mile Island.

Awards and Judging
Festival Awards will be given in three categories:
Best Feature Documentary: over 50 minutes long, released after September 30, 2002.
Best Short Documentary: under 50 minutes long, released after September 30, 2002.
Best Montana Documentary­"The Big Sky Award:" A film of any length in the festival made by a Montana producer, regardless of release date.
A film can be in competition in both the Big Sky and Best Feature or Best Short category, dependant on film length and release date.

Feature Category:
Colin Chisholm, Film Critic/Writer
Joel Baird, Filmmaker/General Manager, MCAT
Danny Dauterive, General Manager, KUFM

Shorts Category:
Gita Saedi, Filmmaker
John Lilburn, Filmmaker/Social Worker
Gwen Hoppe, Media Artist

Big Sky Category:
Jeff Haberman, Sunrise Studios
Jennifer Ferenstein, former Sierra Club President
Eve Whitaker, Filmmaker


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