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By Ashley Fox

Lake County Leader

This year, the quality of content as well as the filmmakers themselves are contributing to make this year stand out for the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest.

David King, director and a producer of the festival, also known as FLIC, said on Monday, Jan. 21, that 38 filmmakers from around the United States will attend this year, “more than we’ve ever had” in the event’s seven years.

Also contributing to this year’s unique vibe is that nominations for awards in each category of film were added.

“It’s exciting for a filmmmaker to have laurels, to say you’re nominated” for an award, King said.

This year, nearly 60 films will be screened between Friday, Jan. 25 through Sunday, Jan. 27, with encores throughout next Thursday.

Kicking off this year’s event, an informal gathering from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. will be held at The Cove Deli & Pizza, 11 Third Ave. West, on Friday, where complimentary food will be served.

FILMS ARE submitted primarily through two websites, King explained.

Withoutabox.com and filmfreeway.com allow filmmakers from around the world to see where film festivals are being held, allowing them to submit their creations.

The movies, King said, “come from all over the world. It’s been real exciting to see.”

Once a film is submitted, four judges watch projects, passing along their choices to a final, three-judge panel.

Films typically start being submitted around June, with most of the applications coming in September and October.

This year, a movie from Romania called “Octav” has been creating buzz with judges, King said.

SCREENINGS ARE on a first-come, first-seated basis with individual tickets available online and on-site for each time-block.

Films from different genres will be viewed, including animated, documentaries, feature films, student films, foreign films and short movies.

Discussions will be held throughout the weekend, and an awards ceremony and reception that are free and open to the public will close out the festival Sunday evening from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.

FLIC is a nonprofit formed under the Greater Polson Community Foundation.

For a complete viewing schedule, visit flicpolson.com.

Lake County Leader: ‘A personal connection’ Jewish culture celebrated at Polson film festival

Feb 08, 2019

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By Ashley Fox

Lake County Leader

While she produces the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest, also known as FLIC, Jessica King also introduced a movie near to her heart.

The Polson resident gave the opening remarks to “Schindler’s List,” which was screened on the last day of FLIC, coincidentally on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27.

“It became, ‘Jessica, you have a personal connection to this film,’” she said a week after the annual film festival.

Raised in Southern California, Jessica grew up Jewish, spending her childhood and teenage years going to a summer sleepaway camp for Jewish youths. It was there that she said she connected with the Jewish culture, which has always been important to her.

Moving to Montana several years ago, she realized that it was up to her to find ways to celebrate the religion.

Going to the summer camp was “kind of easy in a way,” she recalled, because she was surrounded by other Jewish kids.

“Living in a non-Jewish community, if you want to express that side of your culture, you have to own that and take responsibility,” something she noted can be translated to any religion.

“If you want it, you have to have it. You have to create opportunities for it, even if it’s just for your family,” she said.

THE IDEA for Jessica to introduce the film came from her husband, David King. Initially, David was going to introduce the 1993 film and it’s producer, Gerald Molen.

“The more we talked about it, the more it was like, ‘there is information that needs to be relayed,’” Jessica said.

Following the movie, David introduced Molen, who talked for about 40 minutes.

Jessica said that about 70 people watched the movie, while about 10 or so trickled in for the question-and-answer session.

“It was a beautiful day,” she said, commenting that the warmer weather and sun made the day even better.

“The people that were there really wanted to be there,” she said.

Conversations about the Holocaust were held, which Jessica said was a goal of Flic organizers.

“That’s what we want. We want people to walk away from this, talking, applying to what they see in culture today,” she said.

ATTENDANCE HAS gradually climbed through the seven years of the event, David, FLIC producer, said after the festival.

While it is hard to get an exact headcount, last year FLIC saw approximately 900 guests, and this year organizers estimate there was a 33 percent increase to about 1,200 film enthusiasts.

“Word is getting out that this is a credible film festival in Montana in the winter,” King said.

This year, 38 film makers from across the United States attended the festival, representing 16 films.

“That was very exciting for us” King said, as attendees were able to hear the stories behind the films. “It’s wonderful to see the film and then see the filmmaker talk about their project.”

MOLEN HAILS from Great Falls and was on hand to speak about his experiences making epic film “Schindler’s List.”

“It’s great for our audience … to hear and ask questions of someone like (Molen) and the experiences he had” making the film, David said. “It’s fascinating.”

David said that organizers are hopeful that “another passion project” involving a “high-caliber flimmaker” will take shape for next year’s festival.

Another “high-caliber” personality at FLIC this year was Adam Yenser, a comedian and Emmy-Award winning writer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

“Adam brought the house down,” David said.

Yenser performed live stand-up for about 20 minutes, then shared clips from the Ellen show.

“I never heard the audience so excited and laughing so hard” in the festival’s history, King said.

A FAN-FAVORITE film that created a lot of buzz, David said, was “My Grandpa’s Fiddle.”

The film won the audience award, with close contenders including “Ginger” and “About a Donkey.”

Discussions are already underway for the 2020 FLIC.

“Adam Yenser said he’d love to come back next year, and if he can’t” he is going to send others to FLIC, David noted.

“We enjoyed this one so much,” David said. “We’re already brainstorming ideas.”

Valley Journal: Adam Yenser performing at Flathead Lake Cinemafest

Jan 02, 2019

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By Jaci Webb

Valley Journal

POLSON – Get ready to laugh and be amazed and inspired at the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest next month in Polson.

The festival continues to expand and attract international filmmakers and special guests, including Adam Yenser, a comedian and Emmy Award-winning writer for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Yenser will show clips from the “Ellen Show” and share his comedic wit and cultural insights at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26.

FLIC takes place Jan. 25-27 in downtown Polson, where films will be shown at the Showboat Cinema on Main Street. Local businesses, including The Cove, Blodgett Creamery Coffee Saloon, and Vine and Tap will host special events. The Cove will host the Opening Night Party on Friday, Jan. 25 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by the screening of Tim Ryan Rouiller’s documentary film, “My Grandpa’s Fiddle,” at 7 p.m. at the Showboat Cinema.

At 8 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26, Blodgett’s Creamery Coffee will host an informal gathering of filmmakers and film fans. At 8:30 a.m. a special kids’ screening of “Little Foot” is on tap along with free breakfast sponsored by the Polson Rotary Club at the Showboat Cinemas. On Sunday, Jan. 27, the film “Schindler’s List” will be shown at 1 p.m. and the film’s producer Gerald Molen will host a Q&A following. Jan. 27 is International Holocaust Observance Day.

In a recent telephone interview from his home in Los Angeles, Yenser talked about his work on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and writing and appearing on the “Ellen Show” in his recurring role as Kevin the Cashier.

Yenser grew up in a working class family in Allentown, PA. His family was funny, but nobody dared to dream of becoming a professional performer. Until Yenser, that is.

“My family was very approving and supportive when I said I wanted to write comedy,” Yenser said. “I always think there is some natural talent or affinity for comedy, but the timing and the structure of it you can learn. Getting out there and doing comedy is better than any class you can take.”

Yenser is a graduate of Penn State University and he returned to his alma mater in 2017 to give the commencement address.

“When you are giving a commencement speech, you have to be meaningful and funny,” Yenser said. “I had to write a speech with a positive message and that got a lot of laughs. It was a great honor.”

Yenser’s first stabs at comedy sketches were written and filmed when he was in the sixth grade. Inspired by “Saturday Night Live,” Yenser and his friends would get together and create comedy sketches. Yenser never stopped.

After getting his start as an intern and later staff writer for Conan, Yenser became a freelance contributor to SNL’s “Weekend Update” segment as well as the Oscars. But five days a week, he’s working on the “Ellen Show,” a job he loves. Yenser’s blue-collar roots give him the strong work ethic he needs to stay busy in the entertainment business.

“I work from 9 to 6 every day and every now and then there are shoots on the weekends. I also try to go out and do standup at least once a week and I am doing independent sketches as well.”

Yenser said a spring trip a few years back to Glacier National Park made him jump at the chance to return to Montana for FLIC. He had worked previously with FLIC director David King on a project with Kelsey Grammer and has great respect for King.

“I really connected with him,” Yenser said of King.

Valley Journal: Country star, St. Ignatius native Tim Ryan kicks off Polson film festival in January

Nov 27, 2018

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By Jaci Webb

Valley Journal

POLSON – The Flathead Lake International Cinemafest, FLIC, is celebrating its seventh year with an amazing array of special guests coming Jan. 25-27.

One of the most familiar names for Polson-area folks is Tim Ryan Rouillier, an award-winning country singer/songwriter who grew up in St. Ignatius and played bars in the Mission Valley as a teenager.

Rouillier, who uses Tim Ryan as his professional name, will help kick off the festival on Friday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. with a special screening of his symphonic memoir musical, “My Grandpa’s Fiddle: The Soundtrack of My Life.” The showing at Showboat Cinema on Main Street will be followed by a Q & A with Ryan, an event bound to be as colorful as the songwriter himself.

Another special guest for the 2019 FLIC is comedian and Emmy-Award winning comedy writer, Adam Yenser, who will share insights from his work on “The Ellen DeGeneras Show” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26. Gerald R. Molen, who grew up in Great Falls, and produced many hit movies, will present the film “Schindler’s List,” which he produced, at noon on Jan. 27, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

FLIC attracts film entries from across the world, and last year two-dozen filmmakers attended the event. The festival features Montana-made films, Indigenous films, and films about the environment, as well as documentary and narrative shorts and features.

Ryan has spent more than three decades in Nashville, writing and recording music with many of the greats, including Randy Travis and George Strait. But Ryan never stopped loving the people and the land of Montana and a few years back, he decided to write a love letter to Montana. His heartfelt lyrics and witty storytelling are the soundtrack to the documentary film that Ryan spent years putting together. Ryan shot hundreds of hours of video across Montana over a period of four years and then learned how to edit the footage for the film. Ryan enlisted FLIC director David King to produce the video of Ryan’s live stage presentation. “My Grandpa’s Fiddle” has aired on PBS stations across the country and so far, upwards of 100 million people have viewed it.

Like the title says, Ryan’s grandfather, Vic Cordier, was a fiddle player, who taught Ryan to love music as much as he did. They played many shows together over the years, starting when Ryan was just seven years old.

In a recent telephone interview from his home in Nashville, Ryan talked about his connection to the old-timers in the Mission Valley, especially his grandfather. Ryan’s speaking voice is as melodious as his pitch-perfect tenor. It’s full of cheerfulness and humor.

“I loved being around the older people, the guitar players, the storytellers,” Ryan said.

By the time Ryan was in seventh grade, he was a guitar player and the lead singer of a band. He would play bars in the Mission Valley, including Diamond Horseshoe on Flathead Lake in Polson where the crowd was so rowdy, a fight broke out many nights.

“The bartender would say, ‘If a fight breaks out, don’t stop playing.’ These guys would be flinging tables across the room and the dancers didn’t even know what was going on back there because we were still playing music.”

Ryan and his wife Peggy moved to Nashville in 1987 to make their mark. Ryan wanted to become a professional songwriter with a record deal and Peggy wanted to “reach high in finance,” Ryan said.

“I got signed to CBS Records within three months and had a hit record out nine months later,” Ryan said.

That charting hit was “Dance in Circles,” a lively, but tender tune about dancing with your sweetheart. The video for the song was shot on his home turf in St. Ignatius and his grandfather is the fiddler in it. Ryan’s name started to swirl around star circles in Nashville and he got offers to join bands, including Restless Heart and Little Big Town.

“But I wanted to be out by myself. The great thing is I get to tell my story,” Ryan said.

These days, Ryan is working on putting together a live tour of “My Grandpa’s Fiddle,” featuring symphonic orchestras across the country. And where will he kick it off? Montana, of course. Look for it in 2020.