POLSON — The Flathead Lake International Cinemafest (FLIC) celebrated its tenth anniversary over the weekend.
The event, intended to “bring a diverse international slate of independent films from around the globe, the U.S., and right here in Montana” according to its brochure, saw a large turnout at the Showboat Cinema. Forty-one films were shown between the screen rooms – some documentaries, some narratives, and some features.
After 10 years in action, the FLIC festival is gaining more national and international recognition. Over the last several years, organizers say they’ve seen the festival grow both in terms of quality, and in its reputation as a destination film festival.
“As a filmmaker, one of the things I look for is ‘has this festival been around for more than 2 or 3 years?’ What’s neat about FLIC now is that it’s in the double digits. We’ve been around awhile and the reviews (online) for our festival are stellar. That’s why we’re gaining momentum,” said FLIC Director and Co-Producer David King.
This year saw several special guests, including Gerald Molen, the producer of Jurassic Park, who participated in a Q&A after the Jurassic Park screening on Sunday along with his son and fellow producer Steve Molen. Comedians Adam Yenser and Brian Kiley, who have written for both the Conan O’Brien and Ellen DeGeneres shows, held a live stand-up special on Saturday night.
While Polson is a growing community with much to offer during summer months, winter tends to offer fewer events for residents. That is one reason why FLIC organizers feel the festival makes such an impact on the community each year.
“I think it puts Polson on the map in a cinema way,” King said. “We’re very pleased that some international excitement and culture comes to this area in the middle of the winter every year.”
“I hope what it means to the community is a time for everyone to come together and do something different in our gray days of winter,” said FLIC Board President and Chair of Theater Operations Becky Dupuis.
Over the last two years, the festival faced the additional challenge of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. While many film festivals had to cancel, FLIC managed to keep going with several health and safety precautions in place.
“We figured if the movie theater is open for business for studio films, we might as well have a festival and those who are comfortable attending will attend,” King explained. The gratitude showed from attendees and filmmakers alike was reassuring, King added.
To residents of Polson, the FLIC film festival is more than just something to do. According to the organizers, it gives people an opportunity to see and enjoy films they would not otherwise have the opportunity to consume, from local films like ‘Finding Yawu’nik’’ to international stories like Belgian ‘Wildflowers – The Children of Never.’
“To me, film festivals are kind of the birthplace of this entire industry. Both for the filmmakers and for the film goers, it just provides such a unique experience to see things you just can’t see any place else,” Dupuis said. “I love when we have the filmmakers and actors and actresses come. To let people talk to these filmmakers and hear about some of the things that happened (during production)… it just brings something else to the movie.”
To close out the weekend, the 2022 FLIC award show took place on Sunday evening. The following awards were bestowed:
-Best Actress went to Sam Bilinkas as Kenny in ‘Ranch Water’
-Best Actor went to Dustin Gooch as Nich in ‘Landlocked’
-Best Cinematography was awarded to David Darg of ‘The Angler’
-Best Documentary Short was awarded to ‘Mission Mountain’
-Best Animation went to ‘On/Off’
-Best Picture (Short) went to ‘Feeling Through’
-Best Director was awarded to Doug Roland of ‘Feeling Through’
-Best Montana Film went to ‘Mission Mountain’
-Best Documentary Feature went to ‘Open Field’
-Best Original Score was awarded to Samuel Karl Bohn in ‘Cognition’
-The Audience Award went to ‘Open Field’
-The Impact Award was given to the Greater Polson Community Foundation
There was not a Narrative Feature Film award this year due to a limited number of films in that category.
The FLIC film festival ended on a high note Sunday, but encore screenings will still be available at the cinema through Thursday Feb. 3 for those who may not have been able to attend this year.
In the meantime, residents will have next year’s festival to look forward to.
“The enthusiasm on the part of people who are local who come to the festival remains strong, they’re very excited to be seeing us continuing,” King said.
Dupuis agreed. “It’s a ton of work, but it’s fun, and people are so appreciative. They just seem to enjoy it so much that it makes it all worth it.”