The 19th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (BSDFF), hosted by the nonprofit Big Sky Film Institute, returns with a full lineup of official selections, available in person Feb. 18-27 in theaters across Missoula and online Feb. 21-March 3 in Big Sky’s virtual cinema.
The film lineup includes 50 features and 95 short documentary films including 50 world premieres and 21 North American premieres. Over 90% of the annual Big Sky program is selected from the festival’s open call, which drew over 2,000 submissions from 84 nations in 2022.
Reflecting a remarkable moment in human history, the films embrace stories of survival, personal strength, volatile environments, relationships with nature, lessons in resilience, Indigenous voices and the existential power of art. In addition to open call selections, BSDFF will present a special program featuring the Nia Tero Reciprocity Project, a short film series and multimedia platform made in partnership with Indigenous storytellers. The lineup also includes short films made by student filmmakers in the Montana State University MFA in Science & Natural History Filmmaking.
In addition to screenings, BSDFF will host the Big Sky DocShop Feb. 21-25, a five-day filmmaker’s forum that includes workshops, panels and filmmaker roundtables, culminating with the Big Sky Pitch for works-in-progress. The 2022 DocShop conference, held at the new Missoula Public Library, will focus on themes of Art and Activism in documentary film, an examination of the sentient role of documentary film in a hyper-politicized era. Participants include representatives from Breakwater Studios, FilmAid, Nia Tero, Field of Vision, Nation of Artists, Distribution Advocates, SFFilm, ABC News and many independent documentary filmmakers.
Big Sky’s dedication to elevating Indigenous stories through the Native Filmmaker Initiative (NFI) continues in 2022, featuring a strand of Indigenous-directed documentary films and welcoming six Indigenous filmmakers as fellows in the 4th World Media Lab experience. This year the NFI presents a Native Voices Speaker Series, screenings and panel events exploring and reflecting on stories that highlight Indigenous voices as central to a quest for a more just, inclusive, and sustainable society.
Venues for in-person screening include the Zootown Arts Community Center Show Room, The Wilma, The Roxy and MCT Center for the Performing Arts. Masks will be required for all members of the public, staff and volunteers, regardless of vaccine status, at all indoor film screenings and conference events.