Another whirlwind doc roundup…

Time for another whirlwind doc roundup.

Big Sky Marquee
Outsite the Wilma the marquee brings in the locals.

I got back from Big Sky Documentary Film Festival on Tuesday. I think a good time was had by all. The locals are thrilled to have guests. And the guests are thrilled to be visiting the 60,000 person town. I stayed at the Red Lion Inn. Sounds fancy, I know. They’re all about your comfort. In the middle of the night I was dreaming about trains and woke up to find this.

dreaming of trains
Note the Railroad Crossing!

I had a lot of shorts to watch over the course of 4 days as a member of the documentary shorts jury and I dove right in on Friday as the festival kicked into full swing. The festival played a whole program of films from the International Documentary Challenge. It’s very cool. Teams sign up, get a genre and then have 5 days to make a short doc. It’s pretty amazing that anything works out at all. The 2007 edition of the Challenge is just around the corner and runs March 1-5.

Court House
Missoula Court House looks like a movie set

I spent the evening doing a movie and dinner. And really I think it’s a great thing for the festival to market as an activity. I went to see The War Tapes and then joined some fellow jurors and friends for dinner at 515. We ate in the wine bar, which has a different menu than the upstairs la-de-da restaurant. But we managed to eat everything (maybe a few too many things) and gorge on two orders of wild boar short ribs from the upstairs menu as well. Ooooh…what a waitstaff will do to keep a group of 7 from up and leaving.

Liberty Lanes
Now this is a classy place!

Damon   Steve
Festival Director Damon Ristau with docmaker and jury member Steve James.

Adam beams
Producer Adam Singer gets his highest ever bowling score.

The rest of the fest included more films, panels, parties and even a late night of bowling at Liberty Lanes (Steve James is a pretty good bowler!). My last night in Missoula I spent two hours deliberating with the shorts jury while Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? screened in the 1,100 seat Wilma Theatre. By the time my co-jurors and I emerged with our Big Sky winners freshly picked I watched Mr. Smith producer Mike Kime answer questions about the film and from what I could tell from the Q&A and major audience response Mr. Smith picked up some new fans.

Mike answers
Mike Kime takes on the HUGE Wilma Theatre.

Feature Hams
The feature jury – Doug Whyte, Sky Sitney & Mike Steinberg

Here are the 2007 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Award Winners:

Best Feature
The Cats of Mirikitani

Director: Linda Hattendorf

Best Short
A Revolving Door

Director: Marilyn Braverman

Best Mini Doc
Ha Ha Ha America

Director: JD Ligon

Big Sky Award

Salvation Mountain

Director: Travis Peterson

Artistic Vision Award
 Feature
The Colour of Olives

Director: Carolina Rivas

Artistic Vision Award
 Short
Seeds

Director: Wojciech Kasperski

Missoula
A view from one of the daily hikes in Missoula.

The festival staff and volunteers were incredibly accommodating. It was great to watch docs with friends and make new ones in the friendly town.

Wednesday night I attended the International Documentary Association’s annual celebration of Academy Award nominated docs. It was a nice evening. And quick too!

Robert   Davis
Davis Guggenheim talks about his father.

Oscar noms
Some of the Oscar noms pose up.

On Saturday the IDA will be showing all the nominated films at the Writer’s Guild Theatre. It usually sells out. I’m planning on seeing Iraq in Fragments. It’s my only missing film from the category. See you there.

A week from today I’ll be at True/False in Columbia, MO. They’re showing The Fighting Cholitas along with a whole slew of great docs. I’m looking forward to another great time there! They’ve also started some cool interactive stuff on their website (the T/F Experience). Oooooooooh…

SXSW is fast approaching. Have fun! I won’t be there this year. So I’ll be looking to my fellow bloggers for news and inspiration.

Oh – AND – be sure to set your Tivo, program your VCR or just plain plop yourself down on the couch with a snack and watch Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? on Independent Lens. It premieres February 27th. Check local listings.

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