Here are Saturday's highlights at the all-virtual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.
All 50 short films are available to view throughout the 10-day festival. There are 13 blocks of short films, each of which can be accessed by one single-screening ticket or one bundle/pass use.
There are more than a dozen feature films still available to view, including the closing weekend feature, “Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust.” All competition-winning films have been reopened for viewing: “Águiles (Eagles)” and “The Roots Weaver” (Mini-Doc); “Meltdown in Dixie” (Short); “Red Heaven” and “Victoria” (Big Sky Award); “The Snow Calls” and “Il Mio Corpo” (Feature).
Spotlight – Shorts Block 5: Premiere Shorts
“57 Days” — Julio Lumbreras was one of Spain’s first patients to enter an ICU after contracting COVID-19. Through photos, audio and text messages from family cellphones, we follow his 57-day fight against the virus. North American premiere. Mini-Doc Competition. (14 min). “Joe Buffalo” — Joe Buffalo is an Indigenous skateboard legend. He’s also a survivor of Canada’s notorious Indian Residential School system. Following a traumatic childhood and decades of addiction, Joe must face his inner demons to realize his dream of turning pro. World premiere. (16 min). “Say His Name: Five Days for George Floyd” — The police killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, sparked a global uprising. The epicenter was in director Cy Dodson’s Minneapolis neighborhood, where he captures an immersive observation of unrest in the five days between the murder of Floyd and the announcement of charges filed against the police officers. World premiere. Short Competition. (22 min). “Meltdown in Dixie” — In the wake of the 2015 Charleston Massacre, a battle erupts in Orangeburg, South Carolina, between the Sons of Confederate Veterans and an ice cream shop owner forced to fly the Confederate flag in his parking lot. The film explores the broader role of Confederate symbolism in the 21st century and the lingering racial oppression that these symbols help maintain. World premiere. Short Competition. (40 min).
Live Q&A with Joe Buffalo, writer/subject, Amar Chebib, writer/director, Hayley Morin, producer, and Liam Mitchell, cinematographer, “Joe Buffalo”; Cy Dodson, director, Lindsey Seavert, producer, “Say His Name: Five Days for George Floyd”; Emily Harrold, director, Rosie Walunas, editor, Seth Gadsden, producer/cinematographer, and Justin Bamberg, subject, “Meltdown in Dixie.” 8 p.m.
Spotlight — Shorts Block 4: In the Fight
“Favor & Grace” — After the execution of her nephew at the hands of the Vallejo Police, Angela seeks justice. World premiere. (10 min). “I’m Free Now, You Are Free” — When Mike Africa Jr. was born in prison, he spent just three days with his mother Debbie Africa, a formerly incarcerated political prisoner of the MOVE9, before prison guards wrenched him away. They spent the next 40 years struggling for freedom and for each other. Northwest premiere. (15 min). “The Mountain & The Maiden” — A story of a day in the life of Aspiya, a 10-year-old girl who lives with her family in New Delhi near Asia’s biggest landfill. Although she works amid a literal mountain-range of garbage, Aspiya’s voice is ultimately one of hope and dignity. World premiere. (21 min). “Team Meryland” — Born and raised in the Watts projects of Los Angeles, 12-year-old boxer Meryland Gonzalez fights in and out of the ring while attempting to be crowned the 2019 Junior Olympics Boxing Champion. World premiere. Short Competition. (28 min).
Prerecorded Q&A with Adrian Burrell and Michael Workman (co-directors, “Favor & Grace”); Ash Goh Hua (director, “I’m Free Now, You Are Free”); Shmuel Hoffman and Anton von Heiseler (co-directors, “The Mountain & The Maiden”); Cy Dodson (director, “Say His Name: Five Days for George Floyd”); Gabriel Gaurano (director, “Team Meryland”).
Spotlight – Shorts Block 6: Global Perspectives
“Blackthorn” — Sam Robinson plies the thousand-year-old craft of dry stone walling in Cumbria, working in all weather to make and maintain the lay of the land. His philosophy is one of protest, pride and authenticity — the counter-vision to a Britain bound by consumerism; the people removed from the work that once grounded their communities. For Sam, resistance is the honesty of work and words. North American premiere. Mini-Doc Competition. (8 min). “Irakli’s Lantern” — In the Caucasus mountains of Georgia, 78-year-old Irakli Khvedaguridze has spent the past 25 winters living alone as the last inhabitant of Europe’s highest village. U.S. premiere. (17 min). “E14” — A study of human behavior in the densest and most overdeveloped residential area in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic, as a filmmaker captures the events outside his window, watching as streets and apartments begin to empty during the first two weeks of the lockdown. Northwest premiere. (19 min). “Heurtebise” — The wind blows hard in Heurtebise, Alice’s seaside home in France. This year is her last, and the first for her great-grandson Dario. A life comes to an end and another begins. North American premiere. (20 min). “Arctic Summer” — A poetic meditation on Tuktoyaktuk, an Indigenous community in the Arctic. The film captures Tuk during one of the last summers before climate change forced its coastal population to relocate to more habitable land. World premiere. Short Competition. (25 min).
Prerecorded Q&A with Daniel Fradin and Kyle Rosenbluth (co-directors, “Arctic Summer”); Dom Bush (director, “Blackthorn”); Ben Page (director, “Irakli’s Lantern”).
The 18th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival is an all-virtual affair. The online platform is super user-friendly. It allows viewers to browse film selections, pre-order and watch films on their phones, tablets, computers or TV screens. Details on how to sign up and purchase single-screening tickets, 5-film bundles, and festival passes can be found at bigskyfilmfest.org.
Note: Feature films generally have a four-day window in which they can be viewed. When a viewer unlocks a film or a shorts block, they have 48 hours to begin watching. Once viewing has begun, there is a 24-hour window in which to finish watching. Nearly all films have a virtual Q&A with the filmmakers — included in the price of the ticket — and a number of those Q&As will be live, so viewers can participate.
Nick Davis is the media director for the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.