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By Film Threat Staff | December 27, 2005

This winter, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival celebrates its 3rd year of showcasing the best in documentary film from around the world. From February 16 – 22, 2006 Big Sky will present 96 films and videos from 28 countries, including 14 World Premiers and 10 U.S. and North American Premiers.

Big Sky has quickly built a strong national and international reputation for its programming excellence and established itself as the premier venue for nonfiction film in the American West. In 2005, after moving the venue into the Wilma Theater, attendance grew to nearly 10,000 during the week-long event. This year Big Sky received over 800 entries, making it one of the most submitted-to documentary film festivals in the world.

All Big Sky Documentary Film Festival screenings will once again be shown on the largest screen in Montana at the historic Wilma Theater in scenic downtown Missoula. The official selections represent a broad array of filmmaking styles, formats and production dates, from classics to world premiers.

The 2006 BSDFF Jury includes an accomplished group of visiting and local filmmakers, industry delegates, writers, journalists and academics. The jury will present three awards to competition films at a reception and press conference on the final day of the festival in the following categories:

o Documentary Feature Competition – The award for Best Feature Documentary will be given to one film 60 minutes or longer in length, released after September 1, 2004.

o Documentary Short Competition – The award for Best Short Documentary will be given to one film under 60 minutes in length, released after September 1, 2004.

o Big Sky Award Competition – The Big Sky Award will be given to one film with significant content about the American West released after September 1, 2004.

“We are pleased to bring such an excellent line-up of films from around the world to our Montana venue,” says Festival Programmer, Doug Hawes-Davis. “It is a real privilege to have the opportunity to watch such a variety of great films. The large number of high quality entries made for a very challenging pre-screening and selection process for our programming staff.”

Festival Director, Damon Ristau adds, “Within three years, we have seen unprecedented growth in Big Sky’s film submissions and festival attendance. Our high quality programming combined with Missoula’s dynamic population and scenic beauty has helped establish the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival as the premier venue for nonfiction film in the American West. We are really excited to present another round of incredible films at the 2006 festival.”

Each year Big Sky recognizes the work of important filmmakers by highlighting their contribution to documentary arts in the Big Sky Retrospective Series. The 2006 Retrospective Series is proud to announce “The Work of Les Blank.” Ten celebrated docs were chosen from the forty-year filmmaking career of this distinguished documentarian. Blank continues to make exciting new work today and will be one of this year’s BSDFF Judges.

Q & A sessions with filmmakers follow most screenings. This year Big Sky offers two panel discussions with filmmakers that are free and open to the public. “Women in Documentary Film” will be held on Saturday, February 18, at 1 p.m. and the other (Topic T.B.A.) will be held Sunday February 19, at 1p.m. Both will be held at Marianne’s in the Wilma Theater Building.

Find the schedule of films at the Big Sky website.

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