The Oscars Come to Missoula


The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (Kicking off Feb. 15 in downtown Missoula) received news recently from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that the festival is now a qualifying event for the Academy’s Documentary Short Subject Award.

This means that winners of Big Sky Documentrary Film Festival’s Short and Mini-Doc categories will be eligible to compete for an Oscar.

“This is a tremendous honor. We’ve worked hard over the past decade to find powerful and diverse non-fiction films to present to our festival audience, and this decision by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a direct result of those efforts.” – Doug Hawes-Davis, Executive Director of the Big Sky Film Institute

It’s no surprise that the Academy has taken notice of the festival after 11 years of bringing some of the best documentaries from around the world to Missoula. This year’s festival looks to be no exception to Big Sky’s trend of reaching beyond the screen with a lineup boasting documentaries on Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce and W. C. Fields (this year’s theme is humor); a live performance and Q&A from Grant Hart (drummer of Husker Du); Live comedy from renowned comic Tig Notaro; and so much more.

Despite the festival’s recent honors from the Academy and their reputation for bringing internationally acclaimed films to Missoula, the organizers haven’t lost sight of home. This year the “Made in Montana” strand of films will be showcased alongside “The Wild 50” – a collection of films celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Wildersness Act. Both of which are being offered free to the public.

It’s an exciting thing to see a Missoula festival receiving recognition from such a large national institution, and to think that some of the movies you see throughout the next week may be up for an Oscar.

“It will certainly help us raise the bar even higher for our Short and Mini-Doc competitions in the coming years.  Those competitive categories at Big Sky have always been strong and the Academy has recognized that, which is a wonderful thing for filmmakers and our audience alike.  We’re thrilled to play a small role in helping the Academy in their annual quest to select a winner of the Documentary Short Subject Oscar.” – Doug Hawes-Davis

This recognition goes further than raising Big Sky’s bar. Each year the festival floods downtown with Missoulians and visitors alike. For nine days people are eating, drinking, staying in hotels and shopping at our local establishments. The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and other events of its kind are a vital force in our local economy and it’s a good sign for Missoula to see them succeed.