Big Sky Documentary Film Fest: Feb. 16-25

Ten-day festival in Missoula kicks off with Montana-made film “Dark Money”

New & Notable
Big Sky Documentary Film Fest
Big Sky Documentary Film Fest features 22 Made-in-Montana films.

The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, which opens Feb. 16, will highlight films made by Montana filmmakers, shot in Montana or otherwise inspired by the “Last Best Place.”

“Dark Money,” a campaign finance documentary also selected for last month’s Sundance Film Festival, will headline the 22-film Made in Montana category. The film opens the festival at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16.

A century ago corrupt money scarred Montana’s democracy and landscape, but Montanans voted to prohibit corporate campaign contributions. Today, after the Citizens United ruling, dark money floods elections nationwide, but Montanans are standing up to stop history from repeating itself in a struggle that has the potential to change the way elections happen nationwide.

From Montana-born director Kimberly Reed, “Dark Money” spotlights the historical consequences of money from undisclosed sources on Montana, and tells the story of the public servants, journalists and citizens that stood up to oppose corporate control of politics. A Q&A with the filmmaker and panel discussion will follow the screening.

“The Big Sky Doc Fest is a major venue for Montana filmmakers, especially Native Americans and students, to share their work and create future opportunities,” said Montana Film Commissioner Allison Whitmer. “It encourages them to document their communities and to tell the interesting stories that make Montana a special place to live and work.”

Other Montana-made selections include “Drive Them Buffalo,” which follows members of the Blackfeet Nation driving bison to winter pasture. It received a Big Sky Film Grant from the Department of Commerce to expand the story.

Also of note are three films produced as part of the New Neighbors Project, a media initiative and collaboration between resettled refugee families and local filmmakers in Missoula: “Kuwezesha Wanawake,” “Never Give Up While You Are Still Alive” and “Renga for the West.”

Heart of the documentary festival is Montana

BSDFF Executive Director Rachel Gregg said the festival, which received more than 2,000 submissions from 75 countries this year, is always looking for Montana content and even updated its submission process to be more accessible to Montana filmmakers.

“Big Sky has an international reputation, but the heart of the festival is the community of Missoula, the state of Montana and the impressive non-fiction filmmakers who live and work here,” she said.

“Through festival events and the DocShop filmmaker’s forum, our goal is to provide opportunities for Montana’s media industry and bring exceptional documentary programming to the Rocky Mountain West.”

The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival runs Feb. 16–25 in Missoula; venues include The Wilma, the Roxy Theater, the Elks Lodge and MCT Center for the Performing Arts.

For times and ticket information, visit