As this year’s Montana International Film Festival, MINT, opens at the historic Babcock Theatre in Billings’ celebrated and exciting downtown arts and culture district, it shines a spotlight on feature, documentary, and short films with a nod to Montana filmmakers, space, and place. From September 16-18, MINT will screen nearly two dozen films from five countries with live Q&As with directors and special guests. Known for Montana’s most anticipated red-carpet experience, the MINT will also present exciting after-party events and industry networking opportunities.
“Over half the program has some connection to Montana directly or indirectly,” says MINT Executive Director Brian Murnion. “From filmmakers who spent a summer in Montana to those who live in Montana, I think more people have a connection to Montana than we realize. These films pack a punch dealing with world issues of abuse, mental health, and grieving. Yet, there’s still a balance with films offering humor, perspective, and energy. Offering perspective, resiliency, and empathy are some of the beautiful elements found at a film festival.”
This year MINT opens with a red-carpet entrance on Friday, September 16, at 5 pm with a special presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Mario Van Peebles for his accomplishments in cinema presented by the Montana Film Commission, MINT’s title sponsor. Peebles is in Montana shooting a sequel to his 1993 blockbuster film Posse.
“Mario Van Peebles has been a trailblazing filmmaker, stretching boundaries in both film acting and directing, applying his cross-cultural background to open up new ways of seeing the world around us,” says Montana Film Commissioner Allison Whitmer. “We are thrilled to have him working in Montana.”
“Over half the program has some connection to Montana directly or indirectly…”
After the presentation, MINT’s Opening Night Film, Murder at Yellowstone City, will screen, followed by a Q&A with cast and crew members. After the screening, MINT presents its 2022 festival opening party sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka with a performance by Montana country rock star TJ Overcast.
In the years after the Civil War, Yellowstone City is a gold rush boom town gone bust, peopled by an array of outcasts hoping for peace and waiting for prosperity. When a prospector strikes a vein of gold that could bring the town back to life, his murder sets off a chain of events that could tear it apart. Murder at Yellowstone City stars Gabriel Byrne, Thomas Jane, Richard Dreyfuss, Nat Wolff (The Kill Team), Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect), and Isaiah Mustafa (IT: Chapter Two). Murder at Yellowstone City is a thrilling western mystery directed by Australia’s Richard Gray, who also directed Robert The Bruce, which screened at the 2021 MINT.
For Saturday, September 17, screenings include a made-in-Montana documentary short, Attack & Release, directed by Tom Atwater. It’s a moving story about loss and finding solace and grounding through the natural gifts of Montana. Following, Attack & Release is the Montana documentary, Mavericks, directed by Scott Sterling. Montana freestyle skiers are the mavericks of the sport. Often without the financial means of their resort-based peers, passionate young athletes from blue-collar backgrounds in industrial and ranching towns like Missoula, Butte, and Bozeman are mainly self-taught and have achieved success through sheer determination.
A block of eight documentary shorts will also screen on Saturday, September 17, which include Meet Me Where I Am, The Cookie Man, Rosalie Fish, Concrete 49, Angels Do Fly West, Every Hundred Miles (across America with Robert Frank), The Merry Widow, and Print Edition.