Now in its 11th year, the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest (FLIC) is preparing once again to screen dozens of films at a three-day event in Polson that will bring filmmakers and film fans together along the shores of Flathead Lake while filling the seats of the Showboat Stadium 6 movie theater.
Kicking off on Feb. 24 and continuing through Feb. 26, the festival will feature more than 45 films, ranging in length from four-minute shorts to full-length features.
David King, the festival director who co-produces with his wife Jessica King, said that filmmakers in the past have shown an appreciation for the way in which FLIC brings together locals and filmmakers.
“What you get is that sense of community, that social gathering around the warmth of the stories that are being told. And then being able to share in the genesis and evolution of that film by talking to the filmmaker themselves about what you just saw,” King said. FLIC organizers are expecting two dozen filmmakers from around the country to be in attendance.
So far, King said FLIC is seeing “an enormous amount of interest that we haven’t had in the last couple of years,” when attendance dropped amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re hoping things will pick up again as people do venture forth and realize there’s something to be said for being out and about and not just trapped in your den watching a small screen.”
The festival will start Friday, Feb. 24, with a 4:30 p.m. gathering at the Showboat Stadium 6 theater for an event called Taste of Polson featuring food from six local eateries. On the festival’s second day, a social gathering is planned for 4:30 p.m. at The Durham Kitchen & Cocktails bar in Polson. Later in the night, the Louisiana musician Jourdan Thibodeaux will perform at the bar starting at 9:30 p.m., appearing on stage as well as on screen — Thibodeaux is one of the subjects in “Roots of Fire,” a documentary about Cajun music that’s being shown at the festival.
A Sunday morning breakfast mixer is slated to follow, with filmmakers and attendees invited to Good Coffee Roasting Company at 9:30 a.m. The festival will wrap Sunday evening with an awards show and dessert reception from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
King, who is serving as a judge at the festival, said he has seen and graded out every film that will be shown. In talking about some of the highlights that may interest attendees, King mentioned a “very moving” short film called “60 Days of Joe,” which depicts a local man through daily portraits as he undergoes cancer treatment. The photo montage is woven together, and poetry is read in the background of the film.
King noted another short film called “The Trunk,” in which a young woman uses her skills as a ventriloquist to ward off a would-be assailant in a parking lot. He also said he particularly enjoyed a 27-minute documentary film called “Carl Runs the Paper,” about a 73-year-old man who becomes a newspaper editor trying to save California’s oldest weekly newspaper as he deals with grief.
The festival will also include a screening of the documentary “Mavericks,” which follows the struggles, victories, and journeys of some of Montana’s most famous freestyle skiers. King said one of the film’s subjects, Eric Bergoust, who took home a gold medal in freestyle ski jumping at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, will be attending the festival.
“We’re just really excited about the quality of films this year,” King said. “It just keeps going up.”
An encore week of screenings is also planned from Feb. 26 through March 2. All-access passes can be purchased for $50, and individual screening block tickets are $7.50 each. For more information, including a full schedule of screenings and events, go to www.flicpolson.com.