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Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (BSDFF) returns to Missoula, Montana next February, opening with a free screening of Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, an intimate portrait of Hollywood royalty, in partnership with HBO.

Now in its 14th year the annual documentary film festival will take place February 17 to 26, 2017 presenting over 150 of the best nonfiction films from every corner of the globe. The festival hosts hundreds of filmmakers and offers a charismatic variety of events across Missoula’s charming venues, screening in 2017 at the Wilma Theater, the Roxy Theater, the Silver Theatre and the Missoula Hellgate Elks Lodge.

Opening night on Friday, February 17 will include a free screening at the Wilma Theater in partnership with HBO presenting Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, an intimate portrait of Hollywood royalty, in all its eccentricity. At 83 years old, grand dame Reynolds (star of Singin in the Rain) still performs a Vegas act dressed in gold lamé at the risk of her health, and her daughter, Fisher (of Star Wars fame) is helpless to react in the face of her mother’s determination that “the show must go on.” A film about show business and bittersweet family love, Bright Lights will set the stage for a compelling festival and storytelling adventure.

“We are thrilled to partner with HBO once again for a marvelous opening night film,” says festival director Rachel Gregg. “BRIGHT LIGHTS gives us a rare peek into the normal lives of two very different yet intertwined Hollywood starlets, a truly human story that will have you laughing in one moment and tug at your heartstrings in the next. We can’t wait to share it with Missoula.”

Big Sky DocShop
Big Sky DocShop

In addition to screenings, BSDFF hosts the Big Sky DocShop, a five-day filmmaker’s forum that includes panels, workshops, and the popular Big Sky Pitch for works in progress. The 2017 DocShop filmmaker’s forum will focus the many aspects of short film: conceiving, funding, producing and distributing. With changes in technology and how we consume media, short films have reached an unprecedented number of viewers and are affecting culture and inciting change at viral speed. DocShop will include panels and workshops with Vice, ITVS, The Atlantic, ESPN, Film Collaborative, and Tribeca Film Institute among other film industry experts, as well as master classes with the 2017 BSDFF retrospective artists.

Each year BSDFF presents retrospective programming spotlighting the body of work of celebrated and accomplished filmmakers. In 2017 BSDFF is delighted to invite academy award winning filmmaker Daniel Junge whose work includes SXSW grand jury and audience award winner They Killed Sister Dorothy and Saving Face, the 2012 Best Documentary Short Oscar winner. In the most expansive retrospective program ever done at Big Sky, the festival will also welcome Montreal-based EyeSteel Film headed by founder Daniel Cross, a film collective that originated through making films with the homeless community using engaged cinéma-vérité and interactivity for empowerment and change. EyeSteelFilm has branched out to make films on diverse, compelling topics across the globe and is home to a community of committed documentary filmmakers, several of whom will attend.

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