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BIFF 2020 Submissions Now Open!

The official start of Early Bird submissions for BIFF 2020 is August 1, 2019. Submissions will be accepted through February 15, 2020. Note that just as last year, the earlier you submit your film the less it will cost. Submitted films MUST be 51% or greater shot in Montana, or made by a Montana resident filmmaker. IF YOUR FILM DOESN'T MEET ONE OF THESE TWO CRITERIA PLEASE DON"T SUBMIT IT. If you submit a film that doesn't meet one of these two criteria your submission fee may not be refunded. 

For 2020 we've split the Documentary category into two separate groups; Documentary Shorts and Documentary Features. A documentary short, much like a regular short, is 30 minutes in length or less. A documentary feature film is between 31 and 120 minutes. The 5 film categories are Student, Narrative Feature, Narrative Short, Doc Feature and Doc Short.

No matter what category your film is, here's your opportunity to show it on the big screen to a supportive local audience in a comfortable venue. It's also a chance to talk about your film, answer audience questions and maybe win an award for all of your hard work. $1,500 in cash awards are being offered to winning films in all 5 categories, and there are also Audience Choice Awards for all 5 categories. Note that student films MUST have been made when the filmmaker was attending a school, college, or university.

To submit your film simply go to the FilmFreeway website. Detailed submission information can be found there.

Changes for 2020

For the 4th Annual Bigfork Independent Film Festival, being held April 3-5, 2020, we will be exhibiting a variety of short, feature, documentary shorts, documentary features and student films that were either made by Montana filmmakers, or were primarily made in Montana, at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts

Just as last year the selected films will be divided into film blocks, each block is about 2 hours long. There is an Festival awards ceremony open to everyone on Sunday, April 5th at the Flathead Lake Brewing Company in Bigfork. For 2020 we also plan to have 3 free filmmaker workshops as part of the festival.

For each block a live introduction will be provided and available 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 film. For VIPs and filmmakers we’re also setting up a BIFF VIP Lounge across the street where they can relax and unwind. There’s even a private conference available if someone wants to make a major movie deal.

This year you have 3 different ways to purchase tickets and passes. You can buy them online by clicking on the “Buy Indie Tickets and Passes” button at the top of this 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 at 526 Electric Ave during festival hours.


Festival Pricing

Our goal is to keep ticket prices affordable 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 Saturday) - Adult $25, Senior/Child $15.

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

seniors are 65 Years and older, and Children are 12 Years and under. Note that some films are not suitable for younger audiences. please also note that this festival is open seating, there are no reserved seats, that SEATING IS LIMITED AND ADVANCED PURCHASE IS RECOMMENDED.


Festival Showtimes


10:00 am – “Make Your Feature Film” Workshop

2:00 pm – Block 1 INTRO

2:15 pm – “Black Friday” (Student)

2:22 pm – “Veteran’s Treatment Court” (Short)

2:28 pm – “The Thin Line” (Feature)


4:25 pm – “Fugue” (Short)

4:42 pm – “Sudden Developments” (Short)

4:54 pm – “The Blood Hunter” (Feature)

5:55 pm – Block 1 QUESTION & ANSWER With Jessica Moore


8:00 pm – Block 2 “The Forlorned” INTRO

8:30 pm – “Powerless” (Short)

8:45 pm – “The Forlorned” (Released)



10:00 am – “Drones: From Simple to Cinema” Workshop

12:00 pm – Block 3 INTRO

12:15 pm – “The Territory’s Best” (Student)

12:25 pm – “Precious Metal” (Student)

12:37 pm - “MPG Ranch: Land” (Short)

1:10 pm – “Youth Hunt Unleaded” (Documentary)


1:30 pm – “Warriors & Quiet Waters” (Documentary)

1:35 pm – “Monster Gold” (Feature)

2:45 pm – Block 3 QUESTION & ANSWER With Jessica Moore

4:00 pm – Block 4 BZN Film Fest INTRO

4:15 pm – “Two Hands” (Short)

4:19 pm – “Drawback” (Short)

4:27 pm – “Nona” (Feature)

6:00 pm – Block 4 QUESTION & ANSWER With Emily Hook (BZN International Film Fest)

8:00 pm – Block 5 “Wildlife” INTRO

8:30 pm – Wildlife (Released)



10:00 am – “The Creative and Business Side of Film Composing” Workshop

11:00 am – Block 6 INTRO

11:15 am – “The Battered Wife” (Student)

11:21 am – “Yellowstone Invader” (Student)

11:28 pm – “I AM STILL HERE” (Student)


11:47 pm – “Eaglet’s First Flight” (Short)

11:52 am – “Dodging Bullets” (Documentary)

1:30 pm – Block 6 QUESTION & ANSWER With Jessica Moore

2:00 pm – Block 7 INTRO

2:15 pm – “Last Stand” (Documentary)

2:49 pm - “Spirit of Atatice” (Documentary)


3:23 pm – “Beyond Bars” (Student)

3:31 pm – “Shadows of David Thompson” (Documentary)

4:30 pm – Block 7 QUESTION & ANSWER With Jessica Moore


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, who was originally from Northern California, 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 focused 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 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.

Jim Ereaux -

Jim Ereaux grew up in Ronan, Montana; the son of a third generation real Montana cowboy and a New Jersey fashion model. That in itself set in motion a bizarre upbringing that culminated in Jim winning grand prize at the first Montana Film Festival, held in Lewistown, in 1971. Since that time Jim has variously been a logger, photographer, hydrologist, ranch hand, IT Director, horticulturist, project manager, Big Data Analyst, Economist and part time film maker. Jim’s films have won awards, but often leave viewers scratching their heads in disbelief, while pondering the 12 minutes in their short lives that were lost forever. Jim has a strong belief in movies made by Montanans for Montanans. It’s all about community.

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.

Mitchell Underhill -

Mitch has been working in film since 2013. After years of honing his skills as a screenwriter, he graduated from Act's One's 2013 Summer Producing Program while interning at a Los Angeles production company, both in the office and on the sets of web series and commercials. Since returning to Montana, his home, he's worked on TV (series and commercial) and feature films, filling a variety of positions.