Bigfork film fest goes hybrid

by CAROL MARINO
Daily Inter Lake | September 16, 2020 2:45 AM

The fourth annual Bigfork Independent Film Festival returns to the screen Oct. 2 to Oct. 4.

This year there are two ways film goers can support independent filmmaking in Montana — by watching the films live either at the festival at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts, or by watching online.

“When the coronavirus pandemic hit Montana in March the decision was

made to postpone BIFF 2020,” festival founder Steve Shapero said. “After much discussion, the committee felt we owed it to Montana filmmakers to hold the festival in October if it was at all possible. We knew changes would have to be made. With that in mind we decided to offer a live festival for those who want to see these wonderful films on the big screen, and an online festival for those who want to see the films from the comfort of their own home. A truly hybrid offering.”

BIFF showcases Montana-made films that enlighten, educate and inspire audiences.

The festival schedule will be mostly the same — 24 Montana films, many of which can’t be seen anywhere else, will be screened at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts followed by filmmaker Q&A sessions.

Two recently released Montana feature films that showcase Montana filmmaking at its finest will also be shown. “Mickey and the Bear” a coming-of-age drama, will be shown only at the theater on Friday night, Oct. 2; while the Flathead Valley produced “Useless,” a family-friendly story about a girl and her barrel racing horse will be shown Saturday night, Oct. 3.

The winning screenplay from BIFF’s inaugural Montana Screenwriting Competition will be treated to a recorded read (rather than the live read originally planned prior to the pandemic) and be offered free for online viewing.

Those attending in person have a chance to interact directly with filmmakers and learn about Montana filmmaking. Those who watch virtually get a chance to rate the films and help determine which ones win Audience Choice Awards.

Montana filmmakers are competing for a variety of awards and prizes and there is an Awards Ceremony Sunday, Oct. 4, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts. It’s free and open to the public.

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The Bigfork Independent Film Festival features eight film blocks. Tickets for each block are $10 for adults and $7 for seniors/kids. Day Passes are available to purchase for $20 for adults and $15 for seniors/kids, and VIP All Access Passes are available for $50 for adults and $40 for seniors/kids.

For Virtual BIFF, short films are grouped into four bundles, and five feature films are available to watch individually. Online tickets are $5 for each feature and each bundle of shorts. A virtual All Access Pass is also available for $30. Virtual BIFF will run for three weeks starting Oct. 5 through Oct. 26.

All COVID-19 safety precautions will be taken and, per the state of Montana mandate, masks will be required in the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts.

More information and tickets for both the live and online festival can be found at https://mtbiff.com