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Valley Journal

POLSON ­— The Flathead Lake International Cinemafest premieres its ninth annual winter film festival during the weekend of Jan. 29-31 at the new Showboat Stadium 6 on Main Street.

FLIC screens full-length features, shorts, animation, student films and documentaries. FLIC 2021, once again, offers a broad international slate of films, featuring entries from 17 countries and many from Montana.

Most FLIC 2021 films will also be available for online viewing on a virtual screening platform for about a month following the Showboat Stadium 6 in-person encore week. This will enable people who miss the live event to purchase individual screening blocks (or full festival passes) to enjoy the films that spark their interest in the online FLIC 2021 program, which will appear at shortly after the first of the year.

This year’s standout documentary films include the feature film “More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story.” Pat Morita played Mr. Miyagi, who ran the diner in the popular TV show Happy Days. “More Than Miyagi” is a painfully revealing autobiographical record of Morita’s much-too-brief time here on earth. The film traces his journey from being bed-bound as a boy to the bright lights and racial discrimination in Hollywood. Deep inside that sweet, generous, multi-talented performer seethed an army of demons that even alcohol and drugs couldn’t mask. The film’s director Kevin Derek plans to attend and participate in a Q&A following the screening.

Another fascinating documentary film this year is David Mirisch, “The Man Behind the Golden Stars,” a documentary about the storied career of press agent David Mirisch. David is a member of the family behind the legendary Mirisch Film Company, the producers of award winning classic movies including “Some Like It Hot,” “West Side Story,” “Moby Dick,” “The Pink Panther,” “Fiddler on The Roof” and “The Magnificent Seven.”

David Mirisch’s humanitarian contributions set him apart. He is responsible for raising over $35,000,000 for charitable organizations and nonprofits throughout the United States and many foreign countries. Mirisch plans to attend FLIC 2021 and will participate in the audience Q&A following the screening.

From Montana, comes the documentary short “Last Tracks.” After shedding a lifetime of belongings, moving to an assisted living facility with his ailing sweetheart, and now coping with losing his mind, former world-class athlete Alan Jackson, 87, embraces his last tracks and what remains despite the losses.

When “Last Tracks” director Erik Peterson entered his first film “The Hard Way” in FLIC 2017, it received a rousing standing ovation from a standing-room-only audience. “The Hard Way” tells the inspirational story of Bob Hayes, an 89-year-old who ran 30 races each year, cut his firewood by hand and did things the hard way to remain active and alive.

FLIC kicks off on Friday, Jan. 29, in the new Showboat Cinema 6 at 416 Main Street. COVID-19 distancing guidelines will be followed. Film showings on multiple screens begin that evening at 6 p.m.

On Saturday, Jan. 30, film screenings resume at 9:30 a.m. and continue on multiple screens into the evening. The previously announced traditional Saturday morning children’s screening will not occur this year; hopefully, by next year, FLIC will be able to resume that popular event. There will be breaks in film showings for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and dinner from 4:30 to 6 p.m. to permit attendees to grab something to eat at local eateries.

The FLIC 2021 weekend draws to a festive close with an awards show and pre-packaged, COVID observant dessert reception on Sunday, Jan. 31, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and is free to the public. The encore screening schedule will be available at in January.

All films, times and events are subject to change. The FLIC 2021 program and screenings schedules will soon be available for download at, where festival passes, individual screening tickets and FLIC merchandise may also be purchased. FLIC is also on Facebook.