4. Missoula, Montana
It’s hard to confine all that’s going on in the Big Sky town of Missoula in this space… To go along with the dramatic landscapes, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and the International Wildlife Film Festival (IWFF) call Missoula home, as does the Montana Film Academy, which offers camps and classes to young people sponsored by the Montana Film Office, and the Roxy Theatre, a popular venue for screenings of made-in-Montana films.
Overall, these come together under the mission of the Montana Film Office: “encouraging and stimulating the growth of local filmmakers in state,” said Mike Steinberg, Executive Director of the IWFF and the Roxy.
One of the films shot in 2014 and recently screened at the Roxy was Vera Brunner-Sung’s powerful Bella Vista, which centers on outsiders in the Missoula community, set against the isolation of some of the Montana landscapes. The film’s team included students from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts.
“The Montana Film Office and its Big Sky Film Grant were a huge support,” Brunner-Sung said. “The typical attitude was, ‘How can I help?’ People gave us a hand tracking down equipment, offered discounts on their day rates, made us lunch, volunteered to PA for a few days. Homegrown support has been especially key for us, working on a tiny budget. I feel fortunate to have found a team here that was dedicated to making this film happen.”