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Bigfork film festival joins forces with Whitefish event

by MACKENZIE REISS
Bigfork Eagle | February 17, 2021 2:40 AM

The Bigfork Independent Film Festival is joining forces with the Whitefish-based Winterland Film Festival and Technology Summit, festival organizers announced late last month. Bigfork has hosted BIFF for the last four years at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts where a selection of films made in Montana or by Montanans is screened over the course of one weekend each spring. Last year’s event was rescheduled for the fall and released in a hybrid format -- with both live and online viewing options -- due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s event will look much like previous years with the addition of joint branding with Winterland Film Festival, an event that includes a film festival along with panel discussions on technology, filmmaking workshops and industry networking opportunities.

Future years could bring more changes, but there are no plans to relocate the festival to Whitefish at this time, festival directorSteve Shapero told the Eagle.

“They’re offering us resources and a little bit of financial support,” he said. “They're basically going to help make sure that we’re successful because eventually we will become a part of their festival. Eventually, BIFF will not live on its own anymore, it’ll be completely funded by Winterland. We’re slowly moving towards that - it’ll take years.”

Shapero said it was advantageous for BIFF to partner with a larger festival that had more outreach capabilities and resources available.

“We realized that we can’t really grow because there’s only so many Montana films being made and we’re only a one-screen festival unlike most festivals where they have two or three or five screens,” Shapero.

This year, BIFF will select and judge the Montana-made films for Winterland, while Winterland will help BIFF with marketing, social media and logistics, the festival announced in a release.

The fifth annual Bigfork Independent Film Festival will take place at Bigfork’s performing arts center from Oct. 8-10 and will also be offered virtually.

A new addition to this year’s event will be a festival gathering place in an undisclosed location.

“We’re going to set up a basecamp downtown where people can hang out, have a beer and listen to bands,” Shapero said. “We’re going to make it more of a social event than it has been.”.