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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 FLICPolson.com 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 Awards.com, 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 FLICPolson.com.

Polson’s Sixth Annual FLIC Film Festival

Nov 21, 2017

The Flathead Lake International Cinemafest (FLIC) premiers 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 has been recognized as one of the top 15 Winter Film Festivals in the United States by the Audience Awards. David W. King, FLIC Co-Chair and Producer shared, “We’re excited to bring a diverse slate of about 60 independent films to Polson and the Mission Valley for the sixth year in a row. Each year brings with it new cinematic treasures from around the world.”

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 18 countries that include India, Australia, Canada, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, Croatia, Iran, Israel, and the USA. In addition, there are several films produced in Montana, a trend that keeps growing.

FLIC kicks off on Friday, January 26th with an informal gathering from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at a TBA Polson location (see FLIC Facebook page for updates). Film showings on two screens begin that evening at 7 p.m. On Saturday, January 27th, there’s a break in film showings 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 enjoyed unearthing FLIC 2018’s gems. This year’s standout films include “Iron”, in which a young woman named Lily Cohen escapes the crowded tenements of early 1900’s New York to take on a demanding railway job. Determined to work on a steam engine, a position not traditionally held by women of that era, Lilly endures the hostility of her fellow railroad workers while finding her own inner strength.

Another strong picture is “Game”, in which a new kid shows up at the high school boys’ basketball tryouts and instantly makes an impression. Will talent and drive be enough to make the team? Game is inspirational on many levels and the FLIC judges believe it is destined to be one of FLIC 2018’s finest.  

In the Montana-grown documentary, The Gardener, world-renowned French composer and pianist Julien Brocal shares an introspective and hopeful perspective on nature, art, and human connection, bringing his environmental philosophy to life through music. Director Kathy Kasic filmed The Gardener at Tippet Rise, an 11,000-acre art center in Montana.

In a live presentation titled “Anatomy of a Film & Television Career”, FLIC Producer and Co-Chair David W. King will recount his career in Hollywood, which included Producing at Disney, Universal Cartoon Studios, and stints at many other studios and networks. King will share film clips and anecdotes in an informal, conversational manner that invites audience participation. This fall, King accepted an invitation to present “Anatomy of a Film & Television Career” at two University of Montana Entertainment Management classes.

Saturday morning begins at 8:30 a.m. with a 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 as far away as Poland. Stay tuned for more details, as FLIC’s grand weekend in January gets closer!

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.

All films, times and events are subject to change. Additional information on the festival is being updated online at www.flicpolson.com and Facebook; or email info@flicpolson.com.

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 www.flicpolson.com.

Missoulian: Polson’s film festival celebrates sixth year with 68 films

Jan 19, 2018

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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 flicpolson.com.