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Celebrate the Bigfork Independent Film Festival

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The Mission

The mission of the Bigfork Independent (aka Indie) Film Festival is to support the local film community in Northwest Montana. Despite small budgets and hectic schedules, local filmmakers work together to put their vision on the screen. Hardly comparable to Hollywood’s blockbusters, these films embody a lot more than big effects or spectacle. They embody the passion of the crews who created them, and we think that’s worth celebrating. Ultimately a film’s design is to be watched and enjoyed. Our mission is to create a place where local films can do just that.

The Vision

The Bigfork Indie Film Festival may never become as big as Sundance, but we do plan to make our mark as a place for cinephiles to celebrate the arts. Don’t be fooled by the idea of local. We’re proud to offer quality entertainment. This year we will be showing two feature films and four short films broken up into two blocks. Choose the block that most interests you (or choose both), buy your ticket (maybe a snack and soda as well) and enjoy!

Many of these films have not been shown publicly before which means this is an international premiere event! These movies are exclusive to the festival and cannot be seen anywhere else! Come support your local film community and see what they have to offer. We think you’ll be impressed!

Program Guide

For the second Bigfork Independent Film Festival we are showing a variety of short and feature films made in Northwest Montana over amazing 2 days. These films were submitted by filmmakers who either wrote, acted in, shot, edited or produced them. In some cases they played multiple roles in the making of a film. The films are divided into distinct blocks, each block is approximately 3 hours in length. Please make sure you purchase the appropriate ticket for the particular block you would like to attend.

A live introduction will be provided for each block and filmmakers will provide a Q&A session immediately after the showing. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions about the film and to directly interact with the filmmakers. The filmmakers honestly want to know what the audience thinks about their films.

Film Festival Pricing

                           Our goal is to keep ticket prices as low as possible to in order to allow as many independent film lovers to attend as possible. Tickets are available on this website or at the venue during festival hours.

                  block pricing (all films within a single block) - ADULTS $7.00, CHILDREN/SENIORS $5.00

                       VIP All access pass (all films, all day) - adults $15.00, Children/seniors $10.00


                                    BLOCK 1 -  TITLE (SHORT FILM),TITLE (SHORT FILM), TITLE (FEATURE FILM)

                                    BLOCK 2 -  TITLE (SHORT FILM),TITLE (SHORT FILM), TITLE (FEATURE FILM)

                                    BLOCK 3 -  TITLE (SHORT FILM),TITLE (SHORT FILM), TITLE (FEATURE FILM)

                                    BLOCK 4 -  TITLE (SHORT FILM),TITLE (SHORT FILM), TITLE (FEATURE FILM) 

                                    BLOCK 5 -  TITLE (SHORT FILM),TITLE (SHORT FILM), TITLE (FEATURE FILM)

                                    BLOCK 6 -  TITLE (SHORT FILM),TITLE (SHORT FILM), TITLE (FEATURE FILM) 




Submit Your Film

We are now accepting entries from all filmmakers in Northwest Montana. You can submit your feature, short, animated or student film using Withoutabox (click on box below). We define Northwest Montana as Missoula to the south and Great Falls to the east, and includes both Helena and Butte. In general, Northwest Montana encompasses the state of Montana bordered by I-90 to the south, I-15 to the east, Canada to the north and Idaho to the west. If you're not sure if you are actually located in Northwest Montana, feel free to contact us using the "Contact Us" link at the top of this page. For 2018 we are offering $2,000 in cash awards for the winners.

Submit on Withoutabox

 We encourage submission of shorts, features, animation, and student films—all are welcome submissions. Features can be no longer than 120 minutes, shorts no longer than 30 minutes.

Submissions are preferred as digital files, and may be submitted in HD formats. Typically, films are projected in 720P or 1080P. BIFF prefers files for feature length films be kept to under 50GB. There are compression codecs that permit quality film presentation in limited file sizes. Visit for compression suggestions and guidelines. DVD and Blu-ray submissions are also accepted. (2) copies (NTSC); please make sure your disc works on a standalone player. Discs may NOT be copy protected, because we rip disc content to create digital files for VLP projection from a hard drive-based platform. Print your name or the name of the production company (if applicable), movie title, program length, date of production and phone number on your DVD or with permanent marker to identify; do not put a paper label on your DVD.

Applicants must submit three (3) stills/screenshots from their film to be included in promotional material and the printed screening program. BIFF reserves the right to choose from among photos submitted for larger release, or if none are suitable, to find our choice of screenshot to promote the film in our marketing and print products. Applicants are encouraged to send any film promotional materials (i.e. posters, flyers, publicity stills). 
Complete the entry form. DVDs will not be returned. Non-refundable entry fees:

Either a $30, $35 or $40 submission fee for shorts, features or animated films, depending on when they are submitted. There is a standard $10 submission fee for students. All submission fees go to the Bigfork Community Players, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. There is no compensation for the showing of your film. By default, selected films are adjudicated and eligible for awards. In general, only G, PG, and PG-13 approximate-rated films will be reviewed for consideration. Occasional exceptions are made on a film-by-film basis at the judge's discretion. BIFF is a celebration of the cinema arts, and, as such, reserves the right to not show films which in the opinion of the judges are not suitable for all age groups, are sexually explicit, or are abrasively controversial and/or divisive. The judging panel will include representatives of the performing arts, filmmaking, and business communities. All judging is confidential; all decisions are final. Applicant must have rightful ownership or permission to all submitted content including music.

Independent Film Making

The world of independent film making has definitely changed over the past few years. You don't have to be rich, or even talented, to make an independent film these days. With the advent of iPhones, inexpensive cameras and free editing software virtually anyone can make their own film. Don't believe me? Check out all of the iPhone films on Vimeo alone. Write a script, gather up some friends, shoot your movie, edit it, mix in some music and voila!, you've just made an independent film.

But for more serious film makers it takes many months and costs thousands of dollars. You can shoot a movie using an iPhone, but the production quality won't be good. So while there are more low budget amateur films being made today than ever before, that doesn't mean they're necessarily worth watching. Instead you can use HD cameras, specialized sound equipment and lighting, and hire professional actors. The quality of the end product will be much better, but you'll end up paying a much higher price. 

Fortunately there are local film makers who are willing to spend the time, effort and money to create quality independent films. Scripts are written, actors rehearse, locations are found and sets are lit. These independent films don't look like GoPro movies posted on YouTube. They are based on compelling stories and are painstakingly shot and put together, and once the film is complete the filmmaker then has to find an audience, which isn't easy. Submitting their film to one of the many film festivals is one way to do it, but that can be costly. We're lucky to have found local filmmakers looking for a platform to show their films, and as it turned out we had the perfect venue to exhibit them.

What about the future? Will we continue to show locally made films in Bigfork? As long as we have a source of quality independent films, and as long as the public supports us, we want to continue to show them.

You can show your support for local film making by purchasing a ticket and exploring the world of independent filmmaking with us. It's a rare opportunity to see original films that have never been shown publicly before. Don't miss out!


Steve Shapero

Bigfork Independent Film Festival