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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: 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.

Missoulian: Polson film festival features Montana-set movies alongside international features

Jan 28, 2019

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By Peter Friesen


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.

Lake County Leader: International film festival back in Polson this weekend

Jan 28, 2019

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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.

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.

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 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.

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.


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 FLICPolson.com 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 FLICPolson.com website, where festival passes and individual screening tickets may also be purchased. Additional information on the festival is being updated online at www.flicpolson.com and Facebook; or email info@flicpolson.com.