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POLSON — They like to let people know that theirs is the most beautiful film festival in the world.

Filmmakers from places as far away as Iran have taken notice of Polson’s Flathead Lake International Cinemafest (FLIC) that celebrates its sixth anniversary next weekend.

“We have filmmakers who come here and tell (us) it’s the best-run film festival that they’ve ever been involved with,” said David W. King, who co-chairs the festival with founder Frank Tyro. “That’s really encouraging considering the fact that we’re a small town.”

This year’s film festival has been recognized as one of the top 15 winter film festivals in the United States by the Audience Awards.

This year it will run from Friday, Jan. 26, to Sunday, Jan. 28. It features 68 films from 15 countries.

That’s almost twice as many films that the festival showed in its first year.

But, even more importantly, King said the quality of the films continues to get better each year.

This year, organizers had to turn down 40 entries.

“A lot of those were really hard to say no to,” King said. “We only have so much capacity if we’re going to run it on a two-and-a-half-day schedule. The next step might be to make it a little bit longer.”

The festival, which showcases independent films at the Showboat Cinema on Polson’s Main Street, not only draws filmmakers from far and wide but also an appreciative audience that continues to grow each year.

The audience comes to see the variety of interesting films, and its members also have a chance to hear from the people who produce the films. This year, about 20 filmmakers are expected to attend the festival.

Showboat Cinema owner Becky Dupuis said while the focus at many larger film festivals is on getting a film noticed and sold, the filmmakers who come to Polson are looking for something different.

“It’s a little more of a kinder, gentler film festival,” Dupuis said. “It’s not as intimidating. A lot of them have never had a film in a festival before. I think the audience is less critical and more accepting. The audience is just interested in seeing something different and having that opportunity to actually talk to the filmmaker.”

“We’ve had some world premiers here, some really beautiful films,” Tyro said. “People are used to going to a theater and seeing a Hollywood shoot-them-up action film. This is quite a bit different.”

King likens the Polson film festival to the early days of Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

“They had to have their first years too,” he said. “They weren’t very big when they started. We’re in our sixth year now and we’re gaining credibility. Slowly, people from all over the world are hearing about us, including Iran. We’re not sure why but we’ve received quite a few films from filmmakers in Iran.”

This year’s festival includes an entire bloc devoted to their entries.

King said this festival includes many films that are very well done.

The Canadian film “4 Dancers’ Dreams” was one of his favorites. The film follows four young dancers in their final year of dance school.

“I love aspiration films that show people trying to achieve something,” King said. “It’s just beautifully shot. There is a lot of beautiful dance footage in it.”

The filmmaker, Nancy J. Lilley, will attend the festival.

Tyro is the co-director of the film “Walking Bear Comes Home: The Life and Work of Chuck Jonkel.” Tyro worked with the famous bear researcher for almost 30 years in his work in the Arctic studying polar bears. Jonkel died in April 2016.

The documentary examines the life, work and legacy of the legendary biologist who spent much of his life in Montana. It includes archival footage of Jonkel’s early polar bear research, and interviews with the researcher, his family and friends.

Tyro worked with Great Bear Foundation executive director Shannon Donahue to produce the 56-minute film.

The festival also includes a live presentation called Cinematic Labyrinths presented by The Kissinger Twins, Dawid Marcinkowski and Katarzyna Kifert. The two will travel from Europe to demonstrate their live, interactive, non-linear storytelling showcase that puts the audience in the driver’s seat.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever had anything like it,” Tyro said.

In another first, all the films have been converted by Polson’s Jim Ereaux to the format used in theaters like the Showboat.

“The beauty of that is all the films will be presented in the way the filmmakers had envisioned,” King said. “We aren’t messing with their chosen format. If anything, we’re improving the quality.”

The film festival couldn’t happen without the help from many different members of the community.

King spends several months every year going through all the entries and helping to decide which ones will make the cut.

“I love movies. I love films,” King said. “And I love the collaboration with the people in the community that makes this possible. I think I’ve made some lifelong friends through it all.”

“I love the opportunity to be able to bring something different to our community,” Dupuis said. “We certainly couldn’t do this by ourselves. … We’re in the business of hosting parties and this is a big one. It’s really nice to be given the opportunity to be that host.”

Tyro is encouraged by the variety of differing viewpoints that the films offer to audiences in Polson.

“Bringing all these different viewpoints to Polson and to the reservation are, I think, a really important part of the whole festival,” he said. “I think that’s why it’s been successful.”

To learn more about the festival and a schedule for the films, including encore showings, people can visit

Flathead Beacon: Polson Film Festival Gains Global Interest

Jan 21, 2018

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“Word has gotten out,” says David King, co-chair and producer of the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest, of the annual film festival on the south end of Northwest Montana’s largest lake.

What started six years ago as an effort to brighten the gloomy days of winter with film has blossomed into an event gaining accolades across the industry, King said. This year’s festival runs from Jan. 26 to 28 at Showboat Cinemas in downtown Polson and features 68 films in a variety of genres from around the world.

“We’re gaining traction and credibility within the film industry on a global scale,” King said.

In 2013, a group of local film fans decided to organize a festival to add a shot of culture to the long, cold winters. While some film festivals have specific focuses — like the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival or the International Wildlife Film Festival, both in Missoula — the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest, or “FLIC,” knows no boundaries.

“There’s something for everyone,” said Frank Tyro, one of the festival’s founders and a filmmaker. “We have everything from 2-minute short films to 2-hour long features. This is a great opportunity for people to see all sorts of different films.”

The festival’s program illuminates Tyro’s assertion. “A Month” is a 26-minute narrative short about a blind woman living with her four sisters who take care of the woman at their individual homes one month at a time. “Dirty Freedom” is a documentary about 21 women who take on the challenge of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. “Elephants in the Coffee” is about the struggle between Indian coffee growers and endangered elephants that live nearby.

This year’s festival also features more than a dozen films from Iran. King said the festival’s board received more than two-dozen submissions from Iran, proof that the Polson film festival has established itself within the global film community.

“It was surprising, but word has apparently gotten out in the Iranian film community that the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest is a great festival,” he said. “There are some truly beautiful films coming out of Iran right now.”

Tyro’s submission to the festival is called “Waking Bear Comes Home: The Life and Work of Chuck Jonkel.” Tyro, who retired from Salish Kootenai College after teaching film production and photography, made numerous trips with Jonkel, a renowned and respected bear researcher, to Churchill, Manitoba to see polar bears. Tyro always wanted to make a film about Jonkel and finally got to work on it a few years ago in coordination with the Great Bear Foundation and Caribou Crossing. The film premiered last year at the International Wildlife Film Festival, just months after Jonkel’s death.

“I always wanted to do a film about Jonkel because he led an amazing life,” Tyro said.

Another highlight of the event will be Cinematic Labyrinths, a live and interactive movie where the audience decides what happens next. Two Polish filmmakers, Dawid Marcinkowski and Katarzyna Kifert, are presenting the film, and will be available for questions from the audience. King said one of the highlights of the festival is that attendees get to meet and speak with the filmmakers themselves.

After six years, King said he is proud of what the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest has become.

“We feel like we’re on the verge of something really big, and we’re just having a blast,” he said.

For additional information, visit

Polson’s Sixth Annual FLIC Film Festival

Jan 02, 2018

The Flathead Lake International Cinemafest (FLIC) premieres its sixth annual winter film festival during the weekend of January 26-28, 2018 at the Showboat Cinema on Main Street in Polson, Montana.

FLIC 2018 will screen full-length features, shorts, animated films, and documentaries. True to its name, FLIC once again offers a broad selection of international films from 15 countries. In addition, there are seven films produced in Montana, which is always of particular interest to attendees.

FLIC officially gets underway Friday, January 26th with an informal gathering from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Vine & Tap at 218 Main Street, Polson. Film showings on two screens begin that evening at 7 p.m. at the Showboat Cinema, 416 Main Street, Polson. On Saturday, January 27th, there’s a break in screenings from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a second informal gathering at the Vine & Tap on Main Street. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres are served each evening. 

The FLIC judges have once again enjoyed discovering FLIC 2018’s gems. This year’s standout films include 4 Dancers’ Dreams, by Canadian producer/director Nancy J. Lilley, who will be chairing a Q&A following her screening. This beautiful documentary follows four young dancers through their graduating year from dance and high school. All of them want to go pro, and they share their private dreams and ambitions, their setbacks and triumphs. The film travels to Germany for the International Dance Organization Tap Competition, to Seattle, WA for the Regional Semi-Finals of the Youth America Grand Prix for Ballet, and to competitions around the lower Mainland of Vancouver, BC. 4 Dancers’ Dreams explores what it takes to become a professional dancer and where its four featured performers eventually land.

Another strong picture this year is Walking Bear Comes Home: The Life and Work of Chuck Jonkel, which screens on Saturday, January 27 at 4 pm and again during the encore screenings the week following the festival. This documentary film examines the life, work, and legacy of a legendary biologist and conservationist who spent much of his life in Montana, but whose work and legacy reach around the world. With archival footage of Jonkel’s early polar bear research and extensive interviews with Jonkel, his family, friends and colleagues spanning his more-than-fifty year career, the film examines the many facets of Chuck Jonkel, from his work as a biologist to his impact on the lives and communities he worked in and cared about. Jonkel is the only person to have done extensive studies on black bears, polar bears and grizzly bears in his lifetime.

The film is a collaboration between Shannon Donahue, Executive Director of the Great Bear Foundation (GBF) and Frank Tyro, Board President of the Foundation, FLiC Co-chair and FLiC Board President. The draft script was part of Donahue’s master’s thesis at the University of Montana. She lives in Haines, Alaska where she runs the GBF northern office and conducts research on Chilkoot River brown bears. She worked with Jonkel from 2007 until his death in 2016. The film was nearly 10 years in the making and Donahue and Tyro spent 6 intensive months sending script and film drafts back and forth from Montana to Alaska to fine-tune the film to its PBS broadcast length of 56 minutes and 40 seconds.

Frank Tyro has worked in broadcast media for 49 years as a manager/engineer, producing cultural documentaries and teaching.  A Q&A session with Tyro will follow the screening of the film on January 27 at the Showboat Cinemas on Polson’s main street.

In a live presentation called Cinematic Labyrinths, The Kissinger Twins, Dawid Marcinkowski and Katarzyna Kifert, travel from Europe to demonstrate a live, interactive and non-linear storytelling showcase, in which they explain the non-linear storytelling concept, talk about film and interactive media, their inspirations, and present their best online interactive and transmedia projects. This fascinating appearance is scheduled for Saturday, January 27th at 2pm on Screen 2.

Saturday morning’s fun begins at 8:30 a.m. with FLIC’s popular free family movie screening. This year’s film is Sing, featuring a hustling theater impresario’s attempt to save his theater with a singing competition featuring humanoid animals.  Attendees are encouraged to arrive in their pajamas and enjoy a free breakfast sponsored and prepared by the Polson Rotary Club. This non-ticketed screening is free, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

As with previous years, many of FLIC’s screenings will include question and answer sessions with participating filmmakers from across the country. Visit and see the list and bios of some of the filmmaker attendees this year, which numbers well over a dozen.

The festival closes on Sunday, January 28th with an awards show at the Showboat Cinema, where approximately 20 awards will be handed out to films, actors, and filmmakers in various categories. The Viewer’s Choice award will also be given to the FLIC audience’s overall favorite film.

All films, times and events are subject to change. The entire FLIC 2018 program and screenings schedule is available for download at the website, where festival passes and individual screening tickets may also be purchased. Additional information on the festival is being updated online at and Facebook; or email

Valley Journal: Flathead Lake International Cinemafest set for this weekend

Jan 24, 2018

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By Caleb M. Soptelean

Valley Journal

POLSON — Sixty-eight independent films ranging in length from 2 minutes to one hour, 53 minutes will be featured this week at Showboat Cinemas, 416 Main St.

FLIC co-chairs Frank Tyro and David W. King are excited about this year’s event, which will also include noon-hour film showings for students at Polson High School for the first time.

The event, which will be held Friday-Sunday, Jan. 26-28, is intentionally placed between the NFL conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

King said he loves being involved with FLIC, noting it takes up four months of his time each year.

“It’s such a fun thing to see all these different films and interact with these filmmakers and see the community embrace independent film,” he said.

King is one of three judges so he watches every film. There were 110 submitted for this year’s event, including those that were not selected.

“We have spirited discussions about the films and what the judges like,” he said.

He specifically noted “Unbridled,” a story about sex trafficking and the healing and redemption available for both girls and horses with an abusive past.

John David Ware, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker, directed the film, which is the longest at the event and will be shown at 7 p.m., Saturday. It features Eric Roberts, an Academy Award-nominated actor.

Tyro, a Pablo resident, got involved with FLIC after working with the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula, which was started by the late Charles Jonkel, an environmental studies professor at the University of Montana.

Tyro co-directed “Walking Bear Comes Home,” a 56-minute film about the life and work of Jonkel, whom Tyro said was instrumental in getting the U.S., Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Russia and Norway to establish quotas for polar bear hunting through the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

When Jonkel started his work in 1966 there were 5,000 polar bears in the world but now their population is estimated between 20,000 and 25,000, Tyro said.

Walking Bear Comes Home will be shown at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Fifteen countries are represented at the cinemafest, and filmmakers from Poland and Canada have films included.

A couple from Poland created “Cinema Labyrinths,” an interactive film that allows the audience to choose the direction the story proceeds. It will be shown at 2 p.m. Saturday.

A free kids’ screening will be held from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Saturday. It will include a free breakfast provided by the Polson Rotary Club.

Encore screenings will follow the cinemafest Monday-Thursday next week from 4 p.m. nightly showing the best of the ‘fest. A schedule of those films will be posted on shortly after the conclusion of the three-day event.

This year’s films will be shown in Digital Cinema Projection, or DCP, which King described as “cutting-edge” technology that is being provided thanks to the volunteer work of Jim Ereaux.

FLIC has been voted one of the 10 best winter film festivals in the nation by Audience, King said.

Tickets are $40 for a pass or $5 per two-hour block and can be purchased online in advance or at the door.

Schedules are available at motels, restaurants and businesses in Polson or at