Montana made film offers special screening at Showboat
POLSON — A Montana-made film, The Year of the Dog, is offering Montanans a special sneak preview of the film at local theaters, including Polson’s own Showboat Cinema, throughout the state before it becomes commercially available.
“We’re always looking for independent films that are good quality to play,” Showboat co-owner Becky Dupuis shared. “Because this one’s made in Montana, it has some people we know personally that were involved with it … We’re just excited. We love to help out our fellow Montanans that’ve worked so hard to make a movie and we like to bring that to our patrons and give them something different to come to.”
The movie stars Bozeman-based Michael Spears of the Kul Wicasa Oyate Lakota (often called Sioux) Lower Brulé Tribe of South Dakota. Spears is known for previous roles in Dances with Wolves, FX’s Reservation Dogs, and is now filming the titular role in Sitting Bull.
Following the character of Matt, a man struggling with maintaining sobriety in the face of alcoholism, and a rescue dog named Yup’ik, the tale is an emotional journey for them both.
“I’m biased because I’m in the movie, but it’s a pretty raw story,” Spears commented. “There’re so many stories to be told out there. I was just happy to bring the Lakota perspective and bring some light to stereotypes that’ve effected Indian country.”
A keynote speaker on indigenous health and wellness, mental health and Lakota spirituality, Spears said his value system was reflected in the story.
“I always look for opportunities to bring awareness to mental health and different issues that face our Native youth today and I’m a strong proponent for positive mental health, awareness and different applications,” Spears said. “I like to use my voice to help spread positivity and inspiration and do my best to inspire those kids who - whether I like it or not - look up to me as a role model.”
The movie also related back to Spears’ academic interests in renewable energy and resource sovereignty. A student of the Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, Spears is working on an interdisciplinary degree between environmental sciences and Lakota studies.
“One line that made it into the movie was ‘the opposite of addiction is connection.’ Being connected to your food, connection to the world around you, to become a whole, healthy person, that’s kind of my goal; to become a sustainable, renewable energy community. To build a life I don’t need a vacation from,” he laughed.
Taking notice of Spears’ connection with the story from so many angles, the film’s writer and producers have nominated Spear for a 2023 Independent Spirit Award for the passion he brought to his performance. In a written statement, Rob Grabow - the film’s writer, co-director, co-star, and executive producer from Livingston - said Spears, “had a very challenging lead role, which demanded he span the emotional gamut of rage and shame to joy and love.”
Not yet commercially available, the film partnered with Nova Vento Entertainment, a film distribution company based in Polson, to give Montanans a special preview through Oct. 6 in the towns in this state of the many cast and crew, including Bozeman, Missoula, Butte, Livingston, Red Lodge and Polson. The week-long screening began on Sept. 30 with a special Q&A with Grabow at the Showboat.
The exclusive screening will end on Oct. 6, when the film will then be sent to film festivals to begin the process of commercial availability.
“We’re so grateful that we can do special things like this,” Dupuis stated. “We’re excited for our patrons to come and experience something just a little bit different.” If anyone has ideas or requests for future special features, they’re encouraged to call the Showboat’s main office at 406-883-5603. For information about showtimes, visit polsontheaters.com or call the movie information hotline at 406-883-5606.
“I’m looking forward to see where it goes,” Spears said. “Everyone was great to work with and this was a Montana project. Most of us were all from right here. Our acting community’s pretty small, (so) I’m hoping to inspire more Montana movie makers - or wherever in a small town where creative people are hiding and creating stuff - to want to tell their stories and get it out there. It’s a few and far between that anyone gets a movie made about their stories. I just hope somebody somewhere gets inspired so we can continue on our creative journey.”