Festival expands to two nights, adds feature-length film

By Sarah Gianelli EBS Associate Editor

BIG SKY – Mountainfilm on Tour, an offshoot of the annual festival in Telluride, Colorado, is a collection of documentary films designed to celebrate indomitable spirit and inspire change. Presented by the Arts Council of Big Sky, the tour returns to Big Sky with a selection of films curated specifically for this community on Sept. 15 and 16, with screenings at The Warren Miller Performing Arts Center and Lone Peak Cinema.

After the success of last year’s inaugural event, which sold out quickly and enthused audiences, the Arts Council has fulfilled its intention to expand the festival each year in the hopes it will one day mirror other highly-regarded mountain-town film festivals around the West.

The festival will kick off 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, with a red carpet affair at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center. A catered pre-party will be followed by a screening of the feature-length documentary “Charged.” The film tells the redemptive recovery story of Bozeman chef and athlete Eduardo Garcia, who was jolted with 2,400 volts of electricity after touching the carcass of a bear with the tip of a blade in Paradise Valley. A post-film Q&A will feature producer Dennis Aig and Jennifer Jane, a filmmaker and friend to Garcia who stepped in front of the camera to chronicle her role as his caretaker.

On Saturday, Sept. 16, the tour returns to Lone Peak Cinema for a night of 11 short, inspirational adventure films. The evening begins with a pre-party at 6 p.m., followed by the screenings and a post-party with live music.

Katie Alvin, ACBS program outreach and education director; ACBS board member Roberta Odair; and committee member Jolene Romney attended the 2017 Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride and collectively watched nearly all of the 90 films presented.

With the help of Mountainfilm, they were able to whittle the 25 films they thought would be a good fit for Big Sky down to 11.

Alvin said they highlighted women wherever possible, evidenced by their selection of the female “stoke” video “Where the Wild Things Play.”

“Basically it’s about women who go hard,” Alvin said.

Other films shine the spotlight on two Colorado “dirt bags” of the ski and river variety; a 90-year-old ultramarathon runner from Missoula; a band that ditches their van for bikes; and—in keeping with the tradition of delivering some humor—a movie about high altitude flatus expulsion. Yep, you got it; a film about two doctor-climbers who conducted research into the phenomenon of increased spontaneous gas at high elevations.

“Our goal is to have people leave Mountainfilm especially inspired to figure out how they can make positive changes in the world,” Alvin said. “It sounds grandiose but I think it’s possible.”

Accompanying the tour once again is Mountainfilm for Students, a free educational outreach initiative for K-12 students that promotes learning through film. This year the entire Big Sky School District will take part in the initiative on Friday, Sept. 15.

“This is a very community oriented festival,” Alvin said. “People from every single sector of this community can get together and see these films and talk about them and get excited. I think that was one of the greatest things about last year—the diversity of the audience.”

Even though the 2017 Mountainfilm Tour isn’t under their belts yet, the Arts Council is already looking ahead and thinking about how to grow the event to accommodate larger audiences.

“Next year we’re going to shoot for having a free outdoor movie on Sunday,” Alvin said.

Visit bigskyarts.org for tickets and more information.