Firelight Media x Big Sky Documentary Film Festival 2023
The 2023 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival will include the World Premiere of ‘In The Making’ Season 2 as well as several films by members of #FirelightFamily.
Firelight Media is proud to be featured at the 2023 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, taking place February 17–26, 2023 in Missoula, Montana. Now in its 20th year, the festival is the premier venue for non-fiction film in the American West. Through the festival’s hybrid model, audiences can also enjoy the program in Big Sky’s virtual cinema from nearly anywhere in the world.
The 2023 Big Sky Festival will feature the World Premiere of Season 2 of IN THE MAKING, Firelight Media’s short film series with American Masters, following the lives and journeys of emerging cultural icons who bring insight and originality to their artistic craft. The IN THE MAKING filmmakers will also be featured on the festival’s Doc Shop panel “Art and Artist: Firelight Media x American Masters.” The festival will also include the World Premiere of the documentary short film Here, Hopefully, part of our forthcoming HOMEGROWN: Future Visions collection with Center for Asian American Media for PBS Digital Studios.
Additionally, several Firelight Media-supported filmmakers will screen their feature documentaries and documentary short films at the festival and will be featured on Doc Shop panels.
See below for a complete list of Firelight Media happenings at Big Sky, and we hope to see you soon in Montana or online!
World Premiere: In the Making Season Two
Season two of IN THE MAKING, Firelight Media and American Masters’ documentary short film series following the lives and journeys of emerging cultural icons who bring insight and originality to their artistic craft, will have its World Premiere through a special showcase at the festival. In addition to the in-person screenings, the films will be available in the festival’s virtual screening room from February 21 through March 1.
The nine titles in the series, all of which will screen at the festival, include:
- Alejandro Jiménez: The Ground I Stand On, directed by Raúl O. Paz-Pastana and Alan Domínguez
- Ethan Lim: Cambodian Futures, directed by Dustin Nakao-Haider
- J’Nai Bridges Unamplified, directed by Christine Turner
- Jonathan Thunder: Good Mythology, directed by Sergio Rapu
- Lily Gladstone: Far Out There, directed by Brooke Pepion Swaney
- Rissi Palmer: Still Here, directed by Dilsey Davis
- Senghor Reid: Make Way For Tomorrow, directed by Desmond Love and Eden Sabolboro
- Sydney G. James: How We See Us, directed by Juanita Anderson
- Walshy Fire: Pull Up, directed by Alicia G. Edwards
Doc Shop Panel | Art and Artist: Firelight Media x PBS American Masters
Monday, February 20 at 12pm MST: What happens when an artist holds a mirror to the world? What happens when a documentary filmmaker holds a mirror to that artist? Filmmakers of Firelight Media and American Masters IN THE MAKING series share stories from the field about documenting the work and worldview of up-and-coming 21st century actors, painters, singers, chefs, and poets. Panelists: Juanita Anderson, Dilsey Davis, Alan Domínguez, Alicia G. Edwards, Desmond Love, Dustin Nakao-Haider, Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana, Eden Sabolboro, Brooke Pepion Swaney, and Christine Turner // Moderated by Monika Navarro (Firelight Media) and Joe Skinner (American Masters). Register Here
World Premiere: Here, Hopefully
Big Sky will also host the World Premiere of the documentary short film Here, Hopefully, directed by Hao Zhou as part of Firelight Media’s documentary short film series HOMEGROWN: Future Visions, produced with the Center for Asian American Media for PBS Digital Studios. The film follows Zee, a non-binary aspiring nurse from China, who strives to create a gender affirming life in Iowa. After graduating from nursing school, Zee works tirelessly to pass the national licensure exam in hopes of obtaining a work visa. Learn More + Get Tickets
World Premiere: Snqʷeyłmistn: the place where you do your best
Documentary Lab alum Ivan MacDonald will have the World Premiere of his documentary short film Snqʷeyłmistn: the place where you do your best. The word given to the Salish people to call themselves is Sqelixʷ, which translates to “flesh and land.” When people lose their sense of “Place,” they lose their awareness of self and others in relation to the land and the legacy of their cultural traditions. Modern day Salish strive to help children experience a respected and nurtured place in the community through programs, activities, and the building of an intentional community. Learn More + Get Tickets
Doc Shop Panel: Caring for Story by Caring for Community
Thursday, February 23 at 11:30am MST: Documentary film has a long history of inequitable extractive practices often made by outsiders to communities for their personal gain. In this session, hear from experienced Indigenous creators about community-focused and accountable filmmaking practices that center care and reciprocity, leading to respectful collaboration (making films ‘with’ instead of ‘about’), authentic storytelling, and narrative sovereignty that honors the creatives, the subjects, and the audience. Panelists: David Hernández Palmar, (If Not Us Then Who?, Reciprocity Project), Victoria Cheyenne (Learning I’m Home), and Ivan MacDonald (Murder in Big Horn) // Moderated by Tracy Rector (Nia Tero). Learn More + Get Tickets
Montana Premiere: Black Mothers Love and Resist
Black Mothers Love and Resist, directed by Débora Souza Silva, who is an alum of Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab as well as an Impact Campaign Fund and Spark Fund grantee and current FRONTLINE/Firelight Fellow, will have its Montana premiere. The film follows Wanda Johnson and Angela Williams, mothers of young Black men victimized by police brutality, who come together to build a network of community-led support, mutual aid, and healing in this documentary spanning Oakland’s Fruitvale to the American South. Learn More + Get Tickets
Northwest Premiere: Storming Caesars Palace
Documentary Lab alum and Impact Campaign Fund grantee Hazel Gurland-Pooler will screen her documentary Storming Caesars Palace, which chronicles the life of Ruby Duncan, an activist who fights the welfare system and becomes a White House advisor. A real-life superhero, she takes on both the Nevada political establishment and organized crime in a valiant and resolute act of civil disobedience. Learn More + Get Tickets
Northwest Premiere: Parker
Parker, the documentary short film co-directed by Catherine Hoffman, a recent participant in Firelight Media’s Groundwork Regional Lab, will have its Northwest Premiere at Big Sky. The film follows three generations of a Kansas City family who are finally unified when they do something that countless other African Americans could not — choose their own last name. Learn More + Get Tickets
Northwest Premiere: Sealed In Blood
Documentary Lab alum and Spark Fund recipient Sofian Khan will have the Northwest Premiere of his documentary short film Sealed in Blood, which follows the story of American journalist Steven Sotloff who was taken hostage by ISIS in 2013. The film examines the origins of the US & UK no-negotiation policy that made his tragic murder a foregone conclusion, while many of the Europeans captives went home. Learn More + Get Tickets
Northwest Premiere: NuWu Means The People
Ben-Alex Dupris, alum of Firelight Media’s Impact Producer Fellowship, will have the Northwest Premiere of his documetnary short film NuWu Means The People, which reveals the hope for a magical future for the NuWu, the first people of Nevada, through artists who are turning a cluster of dilapidated buildings in Las Vegas into a vibrant community hub. Learn More + Get Tickets
About Firelight Media
Firelight Media is a premier destination for non-fiction cinema by and about communities of color. Firelight Media produces documentary films, supports filmmakers of color, and cultivates audiences for their work. Firelight Media’s programs include the Documentary Lab, an 18-month fellowship that supports emerging filmmakers of color; Groundwork Regional Lab, which supports filmmakers in the American south, midwest, and U.S.-controlled Territories; and the William Greaves Research and Development Fund for mid-career nonfiction filmmakers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities. Firelight Media also produces digital short films, including the recently announced collection HOMEGROWN: Future Visions.
About Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Now entering its 20th year, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival is the premier venue for non-fiction film in the American West. Big Sky offers an ideal setting for filmmakers to premiere new work and develop lasting relationships with fellow filmmakers and industry. The festival draws an audience of 20,000 and film entries from every corner of the globe to a uniquely intimate mountain town setting with a local Montana flavor. A hybrid festival, audiences can enjoy the festival prrogram in Big Sky’s virtual cinema from nearly anywhere in the world. Selected for 5 years running by MovieMaker Magazine’s 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, BSDFF is a top-100 rated festival on FilmFreeway and is an Academy Award-qualifying festival for short documentaries. The annual 10-day event takes place each February in downtown Missoula, Montana.