The Show Goes On! Third Annual Montana International Film Festival Announces Slate

By | September 12, 2020

The Third Annual Montana International Film Festival (MINT) announced today that the 2020 Festival will take place despite the challenging times. The hybrid festival begins on September 17 and ends on October 10. This year, MINT presents a robust slate of 130 films submitted from 20 countries, four panels featuring industry professionals, and over 30 virtual conversations with directors and stars. The festival opens with a theatrical screening of “Montana Connections,” featuring eight short narrative and documentary films from Montana: BRAVEHEART; WOOLY TRADITION; XYLEM, THE HEART OF THE TREE; THE BOTANIST; THE DAY THE SUN DIED; COLD CALL; CROW COUNTRY: OUR RIGHT TO FOOD SOVEREIGNTY; and ANXIETY. The screening takes place at one of the two live festival venues, The Historic Billings Depot, located at 2310 Montana Ave, Billings, MT 59101.

Warrior Women

Most of the films shown at the in-person screenings can be accessed online: Virtual Q&A’s and conversations with select filmmakers follow the presentations.

“We’ve doubled our acceptance rate because we added a virtual platform. We’re excited that we could say “yes” to more great films this year! It is also encouraging to see that more than 45% of the accepted films are directed by women,” says Founder and Executive Director Brian Murnion. “The strength and quality of our programming, combined with rigorous social distancing protocols, will enable our guests to watch festival movies at home and in-person over the course of four weeks.” Murnion got a test-run in virtual programming in the Spring, when he presented a Mother’s Day presentation of Liz Canning’s cycling documentary MOTHERLOAD in a program he dubbed environMINT. The screening was offered “pay what you can,” and the same model applies for individual virtual screenings at MINT 2020.


Murnion has spread the other theatrical screenings out over the next four weeks, with the narrative feature SMALL TOWN WISCONSIN, directed by Niels Mueller and produced by Alexander Payne, a story of a party animal whose young son cramps his recreational style, at The Art House Cinema and Pub, 109 North 30th Street in Billings, on Saturday, September 19th. Thursday, September 24th brings the addiction documentary COMING CLEAN to The Historic Billings Depot. Saturday, September 26th, MINT will present a block of eight female-directed short films at the Art House Cinema: HOW IS THIS THE WORLD; IN THE PINK; SWINGS AND ROUNDABOUTS; BERNADTEEE; OH SH*T; PARACHUTE; MORNING MOURNING; and TREATMENT. On Thursday, October 1, MINT will present Block 1 of its narrative short films on screen at the historic Billings Depot: TOTEMS; HANDHELD; 38 MINUTES; THE SUICIDE OF LILLIAN SELLERS; MY HERO; THE WICK; and MY BROTHER SAM.

Director Dan Wayne’s documentary BIG FUR is a fun portrait of eccentric artist-hero and World Champion taxidermist Ken Walker building a life-sized Bigfoot and unveiling her at the World Taxidermy Championships. BIG FUR plays at the Art House Cinema Saturday, October 3. The Indigenous Documentary Shorts Block will screen Thursday, October 8 at The Billing Depot, and features six films: FUTURE ANCESTOR; DEAR GEORGINA; CROW COUNTRY; OUR RIGHT TO FOOD SOVEREIGNTY; THE DAY THE SUN DIED; KII NCHE NDUTSA (Time and the Seashell); and ARAPAHOE TRUTHS. The Festival closes with Roko Belic’s documentary “TRUST ME,” which shows how screen dependency and misinformation is creating a perception gap between the perceived state of the world and reality. It plays at the Art House Cinema on October 10. Most screenings feature Q&A’s with some of the filmmakers (schedule permitting) following the screenings. And with the exception of BIG FUR, all the theatrical screenings are available virtually.

The Big Nobody

Other highlights of the festival not summarized above are narrative and feature documentary series from animation to horror; international and documentary shorts programs; experimental/late night sections; new media, webisodes, and music films; student films; and a family and kids section—133 films in all. The full selection of films is here:

MINT’s third edition will see narrative and documentary features competing for “Best Of” prizes, including the MINT Spirit Award, as well as eight juried awards: Best Female Director, Best Narrative Feature, Best Narrative Short Film, Best Documentary Feature Film, Best Documentary Short Film, Best International Short Film, Best Indigenous Voices Film, and the Best Made-In-Montana award.

One by-product of COVID is that it’s easier than ever to watch MINT. The 2020 festival has two pass options. The $50 VIP All-Access Festival Pass includes entry to the eight in-person screenings and all virtual films, which can be viewed from any time throughout the festival with the exception of a few geoblocked titles. For a mere $25, MINT’s Virtual All-Access Pass provides access to more than 130 films, Q&As, and 4 online panel events, from the comfort of your home via MINT Virtual Cinema! MINT Virtual Cinema can be streamed on an Apple TV, Roku device*, or from a web browser. To do it, download the official Eventive app on Apple TV or your Roku device, then search for MINT Film Festival to access the program.

Three Blades

MINT was born from the desires of filmmakers and artists endeavoring to enrich global and local film communities as a conduit for filmmakers to grow, expand, and connect with audiences in Billings, MT and beyond. The Billings community is a hard-working, unpretentious place with a growing film culture. Organizers feel it has been inspiring to watch the local art house scene expand and stabilize into a sustainable community fixture.

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