Says Festival Director Rachel Gregg: “We’re extremely proud to have been able to share these incredibly accomplished films with the people of Montana and all our visiting guests. We’re thrilled to provide an opportunity for these movies to find an even larger audience thanks to the reach of these prestigious awards. Thanks to our juries for making the hard decisions!”
With over 200 films in the festival, the following competition films have been given awards in the four categories.
Big Sky Award: Presented to one film that artistically honors the character, history, tradition and imagination of the American West
WINNER: 100 YEARS: ONE WOMAN’S FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
Melinda Janko, 2016, USA, 76 minutes / Montana Premiere
100 Years is the David vs. Goliath story of Elouise Cobell’s courageous fight for justice for 300,000 Native Americans whose mineral rich lands were mismanaged by the United States Government. For 30 years Elouise Cobell fought “the good fight.” This is the compelling true story of how she prevailed and made history.
Big Sky Artistic Vision Award
Dan Girmus , 2016, USA, 73 minutes / World Premiere
OYATE is a film about life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. It follows two families as they go about their daily activities over the course of a single summer. They attend rodeos, shoot clay pigeons, and participate in pow wows. Family members get married, have children, and celebrate the 4th of July. All the while, the difficult, often intractable realities of modern reservation life threaten to encroach upon them.
Jury statement: In recognition of the film’s artistic merit, approach and cinematography, the jury presents Dan Grimus’s OYATE the Artistic Vision Award for its cinematic eye, observational gaze, and ability to capture the beauty in the everyday.
Mini-Doc Competition – films 15 minutes and under
WINNER: THE FOURTH KINGDOM
Alex Lora, Adan Aliaga, 2017, Spain, USA, 14 minutes / World Premiere
The Fourth Kingdom is the kingdom of plastics, a redemption center in NY for immigrants and underdogs where the American Dream becomes possible indeed.
Short Competition – films between 15 and 40 minutes in length
WINNER: KAYAYO: THE LIVING SHOPPING BASKETS
Mari Bakke Riise, 2016, Norway, 32 minutes / North American Premiere
In the capital of Ghana, 10,000 girls from the ages of 6 work as real life shopping baskets – called Kayayo, carrying heavy loads on their head (from 130 to 220 pounds), earning very little and some end up in prostitution to make ends meet. This documentary is about Bamunu, an 8-year old girl who hasn’t seen her family since she was sent away from home two years ago to work as a Kayayo to support her family. We follow her incessant longing to get away from the harsh markets, her journey back home and what awaits there.
Shorts Competition Artistic Vision Award
WINNER: THE RAIN WILL FOLLOW
Eugene Richards, 2016, USA — 15 minutes / Northwest Premiere
Though confined to a nursing home, 90-year-old Melvin Wisdahl lives an interior life, filled with images of the war he fought in, the struggles of the early Norwegian settlers of North Dakota, his ghost town of a home, his love of the ever-evolving and threatened land.
Jury Statement: The jury presents an Artistic Vision Award to THE RAIN WILL FOLLOW, which beautifully marries internal and external landscape imagery in a way that infuses the whole film with a third complete and powerful through line.
Feature Competition – films over 40 minutes in length
WINNER: CRADLE OF CHAMPIONS
Bartle B Bull, 2017, USA, 100 minutes / Northwest Premiere
Fighting for your life in the city of dreams. Three extraordinary young people battle to change their lives through the three-month odyssey of the New York Daily News Golden Gloves—the biggest, oldest, most important amateur boxing tournament in the world.
Feature Competition Artistic Vision Award
WINNER: LET THERE BE LIGHT
Mila Aung-Thwin, 2017, Canada, 100 minutes / World Premiere
LET THERE BE LIGHT follows the story of dedicated scientists working to build a small sun on Earth, which would unleash perpetual, cheap, clean energy for mankind. After decades of failed attempts, a massive push is now underway to crack the holy grail of energy.
Jury Statement – In recognition of the film’s artistic merit and educational value, the jury presents LET THERE BE LIGHT with an Artistic Vision Award for its cinematic eye, innovative animation, and engaging (passionate) investigation into the future of fusion (clean energy).