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Flathead Lake CinemaFest plays to movie fans

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POLSON — “Sit back, enjoy. You’re at the movies,” said Steve Fetveit, NBC Montana anchor, welcoming the crowd to the Flathead International CineFest.

 “Okay Breathe Auralee,” a film by Brooke Pepion Swaney, opened FLIC.

 “I loved the actors in ‘Heroes of Arvine Place,’” “The films are so well done,” “That block (Saturday morning) was so sad,” were all comments by area people who attended FLIC as they exited or waited for another block of films to begin. 

Warren and Diane Knipfer traveled from Bozeman for the film festival. The Knipfers are originally from Rochester, Minn., where there is a huge film festival, so they came to FLIC for the weekend.

 So did many of the filmmakers, some of whom made themselves available for question and answer sessions after their movie was screened. 

Swaney, who lives in Polson now, filmed “Okay Breathe Auralee” in just six days. She wrote and directed the movie as her New York University graduate thesis film. 

Also attending was Gary Henderson, Eureka, whose film “Ruby’s Doll” deals with human trafficking. 

His quest with human trafficking began with a dream that “rocked me to the core” and made him want to be a voice for those who had no voice.

 “Dakota 38,” a film by Alberta Iron Cloud Miller and Jim Miller, also began with a dream. On Dec. 26, 1862, 38 Dakota warriors were hanged in a public execution, the largest public execution. Jim dreamed about a ride to Mankato, to take offerings to feed the spirits as a means of healing for the Dakota nation and for reconciliation.

“It’s about healing, for both sides,” Jim said.

The film documents the Dakota Wokiksuye Memorial Ride in 2008, although the 330-mile ride has become an annual event. 

Animator Jeff Chiba Stearns from Vancouver, Canada, returned this year with another group of short animated films. His popular workshop sold out on Saturday, so he agreed to stay for an encore presentation later in the afternoon.

After viewers watched a compilation of animated shorts, Chiba Stearns gave a hands-on demonstration of animation. By drawing and photographing frames of simple circles, elongating and flattening to create the illusion of speed, he then played it back to animate a bouncing ball. The Webby award winner also photographed audience volunteers as they jumped, compiling the jumps into a stop-action, causing the person to appear to be levitating.

The year-round Envision Polson! committee created the film festival both to enhance the local economy during the off season and to provide makers of all film genres a venue through which they enrich themselves and their audiences by engaging with film.

Eighty films, from two-minute shorts to feature length, from 16 different countries including 41 world premieres filled the weekend.

At the awards ceremony on Sunday, the following films won:

• FLIC best picture-feature

   “The Heroes of Arvine Place”

   Honorable mention


   “3-Mile Limit”

• FLIC people’s choice

   “Dakota 38’

• FLIC best picture-documentary

    “Dakota 38”

    Honorable mention

   “Cowtown Keeylocko”

   “When Winter Ends”

• FLIC best picture-short

   “88 Miles to Moscow”

   Honorable mention

   “Il Passo Della Lumaca”

    “Ruby’s Doll”

• FLIC best film — animation

   “Home Sweet Home”

   Honorable mention

   “My Strange Grandfather”

   “Requiem for Romance”

• FLIC best director

   Karen Glienke, “88 Miles to Moscow”

• FLIC best female actor

   Brynn Samms, “88 Miles to Moscow”

• FLIC best male actor

   Cullen Moss, “The Heroes of Arvine Place”

• Best FLIC Junior picture


Honorable mention


“When Life Hands You Lemons”

More information about FLIC films can be viewed at

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