It seems like filmmaking in Montana seems to come in waves.

50 years ago, everyone was buzzing over seeing stars like Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges making movies like "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" or "Rancho Deluxe." Then 30 years ago Montana became "Sundance North" with Robert Redford's "A River Runs Through It" and the "The Horse Whisperer."

In the early 2000s, it was indy productions and a trend that's extended into the modern day with the addition of major television and film projects like "Yellowstone", or any number of productions over at the Yellowstone Film Ranch and other locations. And certainly the nomination of Lily Gladstone for "Best Actresses" in "Killers of the Flower Moon" has brought new Oscar buzz to the Big Sky.

But Montana is also becoming a destination for filmmakers to discuss their craft and mingle. Which will be happening a lot this coming weekend.

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Two major film festivals in Western Montana

This weekend, the remarkable Big Sky Documentary Film Festival opens for the 21st time in Missoula, bringing together doc fans and filmmakers with non-fiction leanings.

However, the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest also opens this weekend, and in 12 short years has developed into an impressive gathering of all kinds of film, from long-form narratives and documentaries to animation, shorts, and even student films from all over the world.

A gathering for fans and filmmakers

With its international theme, and located on scenic Flathead Lake, "FLIC" has quickly gained a reputation for the depth of its offerings, and the free interchange between the people who make the films and the fans who enjoy them. The festival, which starts this weekend, is punctuated by events that encourage mingling, from the "Taste of Polson" on Friday night, to the egg burrito breakfast put on by the Polson Rotary Club and the Awards Ceremony and dessert on Sunday evening.

Directors at the 2022 festival; FLIC photo
Directors at the 2022 festival; FLIC photo

Watch for this one

One of the standout documentaries people are talking about is "Out There: A National Park Story", from Director Brandon Hall, which screens Friday evening and tells the story of a 10,000-mile journey to explore the concept of national parks.

The award-winning short "Hedgehog", will also be screened several times throughout the festival, which features more than 45 productions this year.

For all the details, check the FLIC website.

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Gallery Credit: Jesse James