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By Peter Friesen

Missoulian

The seventh annual Flathead Lake International Cinemafest brings an eclectic blend of film, entertainment and festivities to Polson.

This year’s FLIC has 56 films on tap, from China, France, Austria, the UK, Canada, Iran and America. Eight of those films are Montana-made.

There’s documentaries and features, eight French animated shorts and a documentary about Missoula musician (and Betty’s Divine model) Kaylen Alan Krebsbach.

Other Montana films include “Drawback,” about a first-time bowhunter and “In the Spirit of Atatice,” about the “untold story” of the Montana Bison Range.

The sole narrative feature made in Montana is “The Thin Line,” a dark comedy about a young woman who moves to Whitefish to escape her rough family life. She gets a job at a beach-themed coffee shop and strikes up a strange relationship with one of the regulars.

Billy Thompson, one of three brothers who worked on the movie, told the Missoulian in 2013 that “Whitefish will be playing itself. The only thing not authentic to Whitefish is the beach-themed coffee shop, but everything else will be set at Whitefish locations with Whitefish scenery.”

“The story is about Jessica discovering her independence,” Thompson said. “It is very much a movie about women empowerment, even though it takes place in a beach-themed coffee shop. There’s something for everyone.”

Other main features include St. Ignatius native Tim Ryan Rouillier’s PBS musical “My Grandpa’s Fiddle.” The one-hour live performance presents music from Rouillier’s childhood, which was full of music taught to him by his grandfather.

The PBS special was shot at UM’s Dennison Theatre with help from Mike Morelli, the executive director of entertainment management.

Rouillier will be in attendance at two screenings to host a Q&A.

The festival’s lineup of big-name guests include Adam Yenser, whose comedy career intersects more with stage and television performances, over film appearances. Yenser is a writer and performer on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and met FLIC director King during a 2010 stand-up comedy show that King produced in Los Angeles.

Yenser’s visit will feature clips from his recurring “Ellen” segment, “Kevin the Cashier.”

His website says he “mixes sharp observational humor with a uniquely conservative political perspective” and he was named “Best New Political Comedian at Politicon in 2015.”

Producer Gerald Molen, a native of Great Falls, will be in attendance to discuss the 1993 film “Schindler’s List,” which he produced with Steven Spielberg. The Flathead Lake Cinemafest is showing “Schindler’s List” Sunday, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Molen produced several of Spielberg’s films including “Jurassic Park,” “Minority Report” and Hook.”

After producing “Minority Report” in 2002, Molen took a long break from producing major films, before working on a series of Dinesh D’Souza documentaries including “2016: Obama’s America” and “Hillary’s America: the Secret History of the Democratic Party.” His most recent credit was executive producing the Jason Statham action/comedy “The Meg.”

“It’s always fun to watch a film and then have filmmakers share with us about the process of getting it made,” Director David King wrote in a press release.

Valley Journal: Reelin’ ’em in

Feb 06, 2019

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By Karen Peterson

Valley Journal

POLSON – The seventh annual Flathead Lake International Cinemafest opened on Friday with 56 films, and one couple went with a mission to watch as many features as possible during the three-day event. They even stuck around for the award ceremony on Sunday.

Kristin and Dale Nelson’s movie-watching marathon started with a highlighting marker and a couple copies of the schedule. First, they each highlight the movies they wanted to see, and together, they compare their choices and make compromises to create a final “master plan” schedule of the films they plan to watch.

“We would see them all, but it’s not possible,” Kristin said. She explained that Showboat Cinemas features two films at the same time during the festival to fit in as many as possible.

On Sunday, Kristin sat in a movie theater seat and counted up all the highlighted films she and her husband had attended. She determined that they had seen 37 films during the weekend, but they weren’t done. “We will see some of the ones we missed during the encore week.” A selection of the films is being shown until Thursday, Jan. 31.

To kick off the event, the couple purchased an all-access pass for $40 each, and then they sat down in the morning hours to watch films from around the globe until the last evening production. “Go big or go home, right?” she said.

But – the couple experienced a few struggles during their marathon journey. “I hit the wall,” Kristin said. “I nodded off once. It wasn’t the film. I won’t insult the filmmaker by saying which one it was.”

FLIC coordinated with local businesses to provide venues for food and drinks along with a chance to talk with filmmakers, which gave the couple an opportunity to stretch their legs. “Walking there gave us a nice break,” she said.

The Nelsons had a long list of films they thought were great. “We saw the one about the Bison Range, and it was really good,” she said. “It was really fun to see people we know on the big screen.”

This is the third year the couple has attended the film festival. “Each year they step it up and make it even better,” Dale said. “And more people are coming to it.”

On Sunday, Joanne Morrow – another FLIC fan – left the theater with tears in her eyes. She had just watched “Shindler’s List” on screen two. “Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, so it was a good day to watch that film again. It was wonderful,” she said. Jenny Scrivner said the film was powerful and full of emotion.

Meeting the creator of a film is one of the things that sets a festival apart from regular features, and the FLIC festival followed tradition by hosting 38 filmmakers at the event.

The producer of “Schindler’s List” walked to the front of the stage during a standing ovation after the film was shown. Gerald R. Molen spent an hour with the audience answering questions. He grew up in Great Falls, Montana, and went on to work with Steven Spielberg on several films. Molen has continued to promote “Schindler’s List” 25 years after it first appeared on screen. The film is about a Nazi, played by Liam Neeson, who has a moment of clarity and realizes that what was going on around him during the Holocaust was wrong. “It’s important people know what this story is about,” Molen said before explaining that a knowledge of history could help prevent atrocities from happening again.

On the lighter side, Tim Ryan Rouillier was at the festival to talk about his film “My Grandpa’s Fiddle.” The musical production showcased his “symphonic memoir,” including his ties to Montana and memories of his grandfather. Many locals also performed in this production.

Rouillier’s film received the Audience Award at the festival by getting the most votes from the public. It also received FLIC’s Best Montana Film award. Rouillier said getting the awards “capped off” the project on the high note. “This film was about all of our stories because we all live here,” he said of the Flathead Indian Reservation. “It was great to come home and have so many validate this project. The word of the people means more to me than anything else.”

In other categories, Best Picture for a FLIC Junior production went to “Staples and Paper Hearts” about an elementary teacher. Best Animation was awarded to “Negative Space,” which explores the relationship a son has to his father. Best Cinematography went to “Forever Young,” a film about being true to one’s self. The Best Doc-Short was “The Science of Collective Discovery.”

The Best Picture award was handed to “Selfie” about a high school student and a smartphone. The Best Female Actor was awarded to Susan Gordon in “Ginger.” The Best Male Actor was given to Marcel Lures in “Octav.”

A fun film about the sport of speedcubing with the Rubik’s Cube called “Why We Cube” was given Best Documentary Feature. In the Best Foreign Film category, “Octav,” which is based in Romania, won. The Best Director award went to James and Melissa Boratyn for their work on “Ginger.” And Best Picture Feature went to “Ginger.”

FLIC Producer Jessica King thanked everyone who helped with the film festival – from local businesses to the theater where the films are shown. “We couldn’t do what we do here if it wasn’t for all the people behind the scenes,” she said.

This year’s film festival received positive reviews from the public, according to FLIC director David W. King. He said it isn’t difficult to attract people to the festival. “We call ourselves the most beautiful film festival in the world and no one has proven us wrong,” he said.

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.