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Public welcome to watch Bigfork film festival from home until Oct. 26

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News from the Bigfork Independent Film Festival 

BIGFORK — After the decision was made to move the Fourth Annual Bigfork Independent Film Festival from April to October 2020, the bigger question was whether anyone would attend. 

During Saturday night’s showing of Josiah Burdick’s film “Useless,” it was clear that BIFF 2020 was a success. The feedback from the public was positive with numerous patrons thanking us for bringing these films to the big screen even with COVID-19 active in Montana. All necessary precautions were taken to make the experience as safe as possible for guests, including disinfecting the theater seats, lobby and restrooms following each film block, as well as requiring mandatory face masks and social distancing.

On Sunday night, the BIFF 2020 awards were announced for first and second place winners in each of the five submission categories: features, shorts, documentaries, student films and student documentaries. The winning films were:

—  First place feature film: – “The Last Beyond” directed by Graham DuBose

—  Second place feature film: “Eagle Rock” directed by Eleanor Wells

—  First place short film: “Varlet” directed by Michael Kohlbrenner 

—  Second place short film: “300 Savage” directed by Jennings Barmore

First place documentary film: “Paradise” directed by Erik Peterson

—  Second place documentary film: “Following the Lieutenant” directed by Eric Westrom

—  First place student film: “Inside” directed by Micah Pengilly

—  Second place student film: “A Compilation” directed by Mighet Matanane

—  First place student documentary film: “32 Below” directed by Jaikai Lou

—  Second place student documentary film: “The Butterfly Effect” directed by Gracelyn Abel

In addition to these awards, a special award was given to Michael Schwartz, who was the creator of the short film “Montana,” even though it wasn’t filmed in Montana and he isn’t a resident of Montana. The judges were so impressed by how his film captured the essence of Montana that they decided to give Schwartz the first ever Spirit of Montana award. 

The audience choice awards for each of the five submission categories will be given after all the votes are counted from virtual BIFF. Originally, BIFF 2020 included a live read of one of the Montana Screenwriting Competition finalist’s screenplays in front of a live audience, but COVID-19 restrictions made that impossible. Instead, the live read was performed and recorded offsite prior to the festival. The script chosen was a murder mystery that takes place in Kila, Montana, titled “Where Buffalo Roam,” written by Larry Baer. Anyone can watch the live read recording free by going to

We knew some people would be reluctant to attend a live event during the coronavirus pandemic, and with that in mind, we are now offering BIFF 2020 online for anyone who wants to watch the films in the comfort of their own home. Virtual BIFF runs continuously through Oct. 26. More information and access to Virtual BIFF can be found at Bigfork Film Festivals Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in the State of Montana, and almost everyone who works on the festival is an unpaid volunteer.


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