Killer sharks, talking toys and “Grease Lightnin’” take over the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts Oct. 5-7 for the third annual Retro Film Festival.
Bigfork Film Festivals, in partnership with the Bigfork Rotary Foundation, will feature 10 movies from across the decades over three days in a festival with “something for everybody.”
Movie-goers of all ages can pick from a variety of viewings, from beloved favorites such as “Toy Story” to the late-night horror of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” or spend all weekend glued to the big screen.
The festival’s director, Steven Shapero, said he also couldn’t help but throw in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” at the end for a good laugh.
“Bigfork is famous for doing lots of different things. Plays and musicals and all that kind of stuff, but never really movies,” Shapiro said. “Now that we’ve got a big screen, we’ve got a beautiful projection system, there’s no reason not to.”
The festival kicks off with “Jaws,” featuring special guest speaker Bill Butler, the classic film’s cinematographer who revolutionized the movie industry with his video work on the water.
Together with director Steven Spielberg, Butler helped create the world’s first summer blockbuster and a story that would scare swimmers out of the water for decades to come.
Butler will also present before the 40th anniversary showing of “Grease,” talking about his experience working on the beloved musical in the time of tight pants, leather jackets and, of course, hair grease.
Other Hollywood names, including Peter Ford, son of actor Glenn Ford, who starred in “Blackboard Jungle,” will make presentations, dishing out the details about the movies that impacted their lives.
A lover of the arts, Shapero first brought his one-of-a-kind festival to Bigfork in 2016, with a collection of Westerns meant to speak to Montanans.
That first year, he said, produced small crowds, and he realized he needed to include a variety of movies people could relate to.
Last year’s festival featured Oscar favorites such as “Blazing Saddles” and “Schindler’s List,” drawing larger crowds and securing the festival’s place in the community.
Shapiro said that during the summer, the theater’s Bigfork Summer Playhouse packs the building with tourists for professional plays all season. But as the tourists leave and the theater season ends, he said, locals get the chance to utilize their theater in more creative ways.
“My goal is to get people in Bigfork to get used to seeing movies downtown without having to go up to Kalispell,” Shapero said. “It’s really a labor of love, and I just felt we need to do it.”
Shapero also puts on an annual independent film festival in Bigfork each spring, allowing local Montana filmmakers to feature their films. This year he also plans to include a double feature of Christmas movies in November.
For this year’s Retro Film Festival, in addition to including more family-friendly movies to the lineup, Shapero also reached out to Rotary as a community partner in hopes of using the festival to funnel some of the revenue back into the community, and specifically its students.
Merchants will offer concessions for purchase at each showing and audiences are invited to participate in a silent auction of some of Glenn Ford’s personal effects during the showing of “Blackboard Jungle” and sing their hearts out to the sing-along version of “Annie.”
The first showing begins on Friday, Oct. 5 with “Jaws” at 6:15 p.m. followed by the director’s cut of “Close Encounters” at 9 p.m.
Saturday starts with the Pixar classic “Toy Story” at 10:45 a.m., followed by Robin Williams in “Hook” at 12:30 p.m., Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson’s final film “Key Largo” at 3:30 p.m., the controversial 1950s film “Blackboard Jungle” at 6:45 p.m. and Alfred’s Hitchcock’s classic horror “Psycho” at 9 p.m.
On Sunday, sing along with “Annie” at 11:45 a.m., relive the ’50s with “Grease” at 3:15 p.m. and finish with a laugh at “Monty Python at the Holy Grail” at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets go for $10 adults/$5 seniors and kids per movie or $30/$25 for an all-access pass to any or all of the films. VIP passes will also be available for $50/$40. Seating is limited, and advanced ticket purchases are recommended. Movie snacks are available for sale and may be consumed inside the theater.
“If you’re into films and you want to spend the weekend sitting in the theater, we’ll let you do that,” Shapero said.
For more information or tickets, visit bigforkfilmfestival.com.
Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.