POLSON — The Flathead Lake International Cinemafest (FLIC) celebrated its 11th year Feb. 24-26 showing films made not only in distant countries but those made right here in Montana.
Held as always at Showboat Stadium 6 in Polson, this year featured over 40 films, documentaries and short films combined. Both producer David King and Showboat Stadium 6 owner Becky Dupuis said they were impressed at the turnout from the community.
“FLIC was an unqualified success this year, period,” King stated. “It approached pre-Covid levels. All of the screenings had ample attendance, so that was encouraging and exciting … The hosts of the festival at the Showboat Stadium 6, Gary and Becky Dupuis, and Bruce and Candice Harrop, were just exceptionally helpful and hospitable.”
“I really thought it was our best one ever,” Dupuis said. “We had so many fun filmmakers, actors and documentary subjects that were here … People just seemed to enjoy it so much. It seemed to me that the turnout was one of the best turnouts we’ve ever had.”
Along with the films, several special Q&As were also made available to filmgoers. The weekend began with “A Taste of Polson” on Friday night, which included six local and regional restaurants who fed filmmakers and movie goers during a social mixer before the start of the screenings.
The film “Mavericks,” which documented some of Montana’s freestyle ski legacy, saw a Q&A not only with producers Scott Sterling and Kelly Gorham, but with World Cup champion and Olympic gold medal aerialist Eric Bergoust.
Jourdan Thibodeaux, star of the film “Roots of Fire” and a Cajun musician as well, treated patrons of The Durham to a musical performance of his wide array of Louisiana French songs.
Laurie Brooks, the key subject of “Dosed: The Trip of a Lifetime,” spoke in a pre-recorded Q&A held over Zoom with FLIC co-producer Jessica King. She spoke about her experience living with cancer and her dream of opening a retreat for those experiencing trauma, something she expounds on in her blog at: LauriesPlace.ca
Twentyplus filmmakers and participants attended the “Taste of Polson” social mixer, with numerous additional Q&As and social mixers sprinkled throughout the rest of the weekend. “The filmmakers who attended were wonderful people,” King commented. “(They) expressed gratitude for Polson, for the support they received from the community, and for all the camaraderie they experienced with one another as they attended our several social mixers.”
“The filmmakers like to talk to each other, and people like to talk to the filmmakers, so (we wanted) to figure out a way that it was really noticeable who’s a filmmaker and who’s an attendee and to really encourage people to talk to the filmmakers,” Dupuis explained.
At the end of the weekend, the year’s award ceremony opened on an emotional note with David King reading a tribute to his wife and co-producer Jessica. He credited her for all her hard work in making FLIC happen each year and thanked her for all she does, both for the event and for him. Following that, the first award of the evening was the Impact Award, which went to Steve Pickel. Pickel has acted as the event photographer for FLIC since its beginning but a recent medical event made him unable to do so again this year.
“We just wanted to honor him, so I hinted to him it would be nice to see him at the festival and it would be great if he could at least come to the awards show,” King explained. “He had no idea that he was the first award of the night. There were a lot of tears. It was such a warm, special time.”
Once the tears had passed, the rest of the award ceremony went into full swing.
Best Montana Film – which was between “Dogwood,” “Mavericks,” “Only Roundup Remains,” “The Year of the Dog,” and “Touch,” – went to “Only Roundup Remains,” which examined the disappearing lifestyle of ranching families and their traditions. Best Original Score went to Phillip Arthur Simmons for the film, “Greg.” Best Cinematography went to Elliot Millson for the film “The Magician,” and Best Actress was won by Joan Porter who played Jane in “The Seasons, Four Love Stories.” The Best Actor award went to Hans Obma who played Joseph Gard in his own short film, “A Question of Service,” in which he was the only on-camera actor. Obma had been unable to attend in person due to an unexpected career opportunity, but accepted his award over the phone with enthusiasm. He used one of his talents, a mastery over several languages and accents, as was featured in his film – to entertain the audience as he accepted his award. Best Documentary Short went to “From Great Water – Kvichak Fish Co.” Best Documentary Feature was won by “Mavericks,” and Best Director went to Cat Dale for “Touch,” the film that was then awarded Best Picture Short. Best Picture Feature went to “The Year of the Dog,” and finally, the audience selected “Roots of Fire” for the Audience Award.
“We’re so grateful for David and Jessica,” Dupuis said. “They do so much work, and they’re so good at it. Toni Whealon organizes all our other events, and she does a fabulous job. It’s such a good group of people … And it is so fun for us to have so much of the community to come and enjoy the dinner and enjoy the films and enjoy each other. The filmmakers and the people who come along with them really enjoy FLIC because of the community support that they feel here.”
“We heard from numerous filmmakers that this was, hands down, one of the best festivals they’ve ever attended,” King commented. “We couldn’t be more grateful for how things went from numerous angles … It makes it all worthwhile.”
FLIC will return next Feb. 23-25. To enter a film or to learn more, visit: flicpolson.com.
Additionally, the Showboat is looking for a new board treasurer. To learn more, contact one of the Dupuis at the theater by calling 406-883-5606.