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Polson festival features diverse selection of films

| February 16, 2023 12:00 AM

The Flathead Lake International Cinemafest set for Feb. 24-26 in Polson features a diverse selection of domestic and international films.

The festival, in its 11th year, is held at the Showboat Stadium 6, 416 Main St.

Screening full-length narrative and documentary features, shorts, animation and student films, the festival, features entries from 15 countries as well as many homegrown Montana films.

Many filmmakers (and an Olympic gold medalist) plan to travel to Polson to participate in the festival in person. The festival has become a destination film festival for all the right reasons, chief among them being an enthusiastic local audience supportive of independent cinema. Spirited discussions between audience members and filmmakers cap off most screening blocks and friendships take root between screenings as film lovers from across the globe converge in Polson to connect over the warm glow of cinema.

The festival’s judges enjoy discovering each year’s cinematic gems. Included among them this year is the documentary feature film “Mavericks,” directed by festival alumni Scott Sterling. “Mavericks,” the screening of which is fittingly sponsored by The Maverick Men’s Threads and Gifts, tells the fascinating story of Montana’s freestyle skiing legacy, through the struggles, victories and journeys of some of the state’s most renowned skiers. The adrenaline-charged film features clips from international freestyle skiing competitions, home videos and original cinematography. “Mavericks” will kickoff the festival at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24. “Mavericks” producer and director Scott Sterling, producer and writer Kelly Gorham and Olympic gold medalist Eric Bergoust all plan to attend.

“This will be a first for the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest,” according to festival director David W. King. “We’ve hosted many fascinating guests over the years but never an Olympic gold medalist — who also won 15 World Cup events, was the 2002 overall freestyle World Cup champ and twice won the World Cup aerials title. In 1999 Bergoust added a World Championship in the aerials to his Olympic gold medal. Seeing Eric in action in Mavericks, then hearing directly from him and the film’s director and producers will be great fun and will get FLIC 2023 off to a stellar start.”

The festival also features a full slate of exceptional short films. One narrative short is the Montana-made film “Touch,” a story about the power of love — and how we pass that love from one generation to the next. In another short film, “The Magician,” a desperate woman’s life is forever changed by an unexpected encounter with kindness in the form of a quirky park mime.

About her film “The Magician,” director and actor Sarah Jane-Potts shares, “There is no love without connection and there is no connection without kindness. This film is my ode to kindness and kindness is magic.”

The festival begins at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24 with an informal “Taste of Polson” gathering in the lobby of the Showboat Stadium 6. Many of Polson’s local eateries will offer samples of their fare as filmmakers and attendees mingle. Screenings then commence at 6 p.m. on multiple Showboat Stadium 6 screens.

At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, the festival and the Polson Rotary Club offer their traditional free animated children’s film and egg burrito breakfast. The Polson Rotary Club will serve breakfast in the Showboat Stadium 6 lobby beginning at 9:15 a.m.

Festival film screenings then resume at 12:30 p.m. and continue on multiple screens into the evening. There will be a break in screenings from 4:30 to 6 p.m. for an informal filmmaker and attendee mixer from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at The Durham, located at 49494 U.S. 93, Polson.

At 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, The Good Coffee Roasting Company, 214 Main St., Polson, is hosting a light breakfast mixer for filmmakers and festival attendees — who can purchase a wide variety of drinks and baked food.

The weekend draws to a close with an awards ceremony and dessert reception from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Showboat Stadium 6. The Audience Award will also be given to the audience’s overall favorite film.

Showboat Stadium 6 will host film festival encore screenings from 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26 through Thursday, March 2. The encore screenings schedule will be posted on FLICPolson.com.

All films, times and events are subject to change. The festival screening schedule is available to view at FLICPolson.com, where festival passes and individual screening tickets may also be purchased. For more information, email contact@flicpolson.com.

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Zuzu Weingart and Beth Ann Kennedy in “Touch.” (Photo courtesy Touch)

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Bob Barrett and Sarah-Jane Potts in “The Magician.” (Photo courtesy The Magician)