MAPS Browning Rising Voices 3

Students of the Browning Rising Voices poetry club — the subject of one of the films selected to show at the 2019 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival is in full swing, bringing thousands of people from outside of Missoula to watch well over a hundred films.

“The hype gets out and more people come,” Executive Director Rachel Gregg said. “The reputation is certainly spreading.”

This year, the festival brought well over 200 filmmakers and industry members, promoting 47 world premieres and taking part in the Doc Shop, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Big Sky last year had representatives for 80 percent of the movies, an unusually high number for a smaller festival.

“That’s definitely been rising,” she continued. “People really make it a priority to attend.”

Gregg said the festival has drawn about 16,000 people over the last four years, a third of whom came from outside Missoula and represented 38 states.

“They know that the experience here is just that valuable,” she said.

This year's opening weekend filled 4,000 seats. Because many people attend more than one film, the actual number of people at the weekend opening won't be known until later.

Gregg said she expected a bit of a slowdown through this week.

"Then the closing weekend always blows up again," she said.

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Arts and entertainment

arts reporter for the Missoulian.