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Discover Independent

film in Montana

BIFF 2019.jpg



BIFF 2019 Submissions are now Open!

Filmmakers are encouraged to submit their projects early so they can be considered by the judges. Selected films will be shown and filmmakers can discuss their films in front of a live audience. $2,500 in Cash prizes will be awarded for first and second place winners in each submission category, as well as for an audience choice award for each film category.


Changes for 2019

For the 3rd Annual Bigfork Independent Film Festival, being held April 5-7, 2019, we will be exhibiting a variety of short, feature, documentary and student films that were either made by Montana filmmakers, or were made in Montana, at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts

Note that animated films submissions are encouraged, but they don't have their own category. Instead, this year we are breaking out documentary films into a separate category. Just as last year the selected films will be divided into film blocks, each block is between 2 and 3 hours long. For 2019 we're also planning filmmaker workshops as part of the festival, as well as an awards ceremony on Sunday, April 7th.

For each block a live introduction will be provided and filmmakers will be included in a Q&A session at the end of the block. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and to interact directly with the filmmakers. The filmmakers want to know what people honestly think about their films. For VIPs and filmmakers we’re setting up a BIFF Lounge across the street where they can relax and unwind. There’s even a private conference available if someone wants to make a major deal.

This year you have 3 different ways to purchase tickets and passes. You can buy them online here by clicking on the “Buy Indie Tickets and Passes” button at the top of the page, you can purchase them in person at the Bigfork Art & Cultural Center at 525 Electric Ave or you can buy them at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts during festival hours.


Festival Pricing

Our goal is to keep ticket prices low in order to allow as many movie lovers to attend as possible. Tickets are available here, at the Bigfork Art & Cultural Center AND at the bigfork center for the performing arts during festival hours.

Single block tickets (all films in a Specific block) - ADULT $10, Senior/Child $7

All Access Day passes (all films showing on either Friday or Sunday) - adult $15, Senior/Child $10, (All films showing on for Saturday) - Adult $25, Senior/Child $15.

VIP All access passes (any & all Festival films) - adults $50, Senior/Child $40

*seniors are 65 Years and older, and Children are 12 Years and under. Some films are not suitable for younger audiences.

please note that this festival is open seating, that SEATING IS LIMITED AND that ADVANCED PURCHASE IS RECOMMENDED.


Festival Showtimes

To Be Announced


The Mission

The mission of the Bigfork Independent (aka Indie) Film Festival is to support the film community in Montana. Despite small budgets and hectic schedules, Montana 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 purpose is to be watched and enjoyed. Our mission is to create a place where Montana 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 feature, short, animation and student films broken up into separate blocks. Choose the block that most interests you, buy your ticket, maybe a snack and soda as well, and enjoy the experience of watching films as they were meant to be seen.

Many of these films have not been shown publicly which means this is an international premiere event for them! Come support the Montana film community and see what they have to offer. We think you’ll be impressed!

Why Attend Film Festivals?

At first blush it seems obvious why a filmmaker would want to attend a film festival. If your film is selected you might win an award, or you may have a chance to participate in a live Q&A session, or you might get a distribution deal, and you can network with other filmmakers while enjoying the experience of seeing an audience watch your movie. But if you’re not a filmmaker why attend?

For your average film festival attendees it’s a chance to experience something unique and memorable, and to become intimately involved with the filmmaking process. In case you didn’t know there are over 3,000 film festivals worldwide, and 2,100 of them are in the US alone. You may have heard of the Sundance, SXSW and Telluride film festivals, just to name three of the bigger ones. At these festivals, some which run for almost two weeks, big production films, often with big name stars, are exhibited and thousands of people attend.

Festivals like these play an important role in the film sales and marketing process; they provide a way for people who make films to interact with people who buy films. These distributors watch a variety of films and then go after the ones they want to take on. For example, companies like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu need a steady supply of content to keep their customers happy. Even though they are making a lot of their own movies, which is much more profitable for them, they are also buying movies from independent filmmakers.

If your film is selected Sundance, out of the 13,000 that are submitted each year, there’s a good chance a distributor will want to buy it. But what if you make relatively low-budget films that are rarely selected by a major festival? What hope is there for you?

That’s where the boutique and regional film festivals come in. They provide a place for filmmakers of smaller films to show their work and perhaps even win an award. These filmmakers make movies because they are driven to make a great film. It’s a tough way to make a living, but at least they can get some recognition and that’s where the audience comes in.

In order for a film festival to survive there has to be an audience that appreciates the work that goes into making a film. Even a 6-minute short can take dozens of hours to conceive and many months to produce. Usually these filmmakers have day jobs and do most of the work themselves to keep their costs down. For most of them t’s a labor of love.

These smaller film festivals provide an opportunity for filmmakers to have their movie seen by an audience. The audience in turn gets a chance to see movies they would otherwise never have a chance to see. It’s a true win-win, and it provides a tangible way for the public to support independent filmmakers.

You may not love every film you see at a festival, but I bet there will be one or two that will speak to you, and that’s reason enough to attend your local independent film festival.

Don't miss out!


Steve Shapero, Director

Bigfork Film Festivals


Rules and Terms

The Bigfork Independent Film Festival (BIFF) is hereby granted the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the Festival for promotional purposes. The individual or corporation submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to commit the film for screening, and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations. 

The applicant shall indemnify and hold harmless Bigfork Community Players, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and BIFF from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney’s fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening videos entered. 



BIFF Organizing Committee

The Bigfork Independent Film Festival is made possible with the help and support of many individuals, corporate sponsors and benefactors. The BIFF Organizing Committee is made up of people who are primarily responsible for making this festival a reality.

Steve Shapero -

Steve was responsible for putting together the first BIFF and ensuring it was successful enough to lead to a second and third BIFF. Steve is a long time film enthusiast and wanted to create a festival that encouraged and supported Montana filmmakers. When he learned there were many filmmakers throughout the state creating movies he saw an opportunity to create a unique festival that focuses exclusively on Montana. Steve lives in Bigfork with his wife Michele and has spent most of his career working for successful Silicon Valley companies. He has recently retired so he can now focus his time on more important things than making a nice living.

Jessica Moore -

Jessica Moore is a Montana based filmmaker with a background in theater, producing, and acting. Born in Lakenheath, England, she moved to Montana at the age of two and grew up in the true old west style of living in Avon, Montana. Jessica followed her passion of acting and singing to Los Angeles where she graduated from AMDA with a BFA in Musical Theatre. When not working in Los Angeles Jessica can be found on many local projects at home in Montana or creating her own.

Frank Tyro -

Dr. Frank Tyro was Media/Public Television department head at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo for 32 years, bringing local public television to the Flathead Reservation in 1987.  His background includes 50 years in broadcast engineering, documentary production and teaching photography, video production and communication.  He is a recurrent visitor to Churchill, Manitoba with the Great Bear Foundation Arctic Ecology field trips and is Board President of the Foundation.  He has led or co-led Arctic Ecology Field Courses since 1984. He lives in Pablo, Montana with his wife Dr. Lori Lambert.  Together they own Caribou Crossing, a media production and consulting partnership.

Jim Ereaux -