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Film Festival Becomes Polson Tradition
Documentaries, animated shorts all on deck for Flathead Lake International Cinemafest
Joan Carson is featured in one of the documentaries being shown at the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest. Contributed Photo.
Polson’s Flathead Lake International Cinemafest’s slogan, “The most beautiful film festival in the world,” may be a bold statement, but the second annual event is sure to please with nearly 80 films running over three days. Co-chair Daniel Smith says organizers have gathered a wide variety of films, from feature length documentaries to animated shorts.

The festival kicks off on Friday, Jan. 24 with an opening party before a pair of screenings that night. The festival continues throughout the weekend at Showboat Cinemas in Polson.
“We didn’t want to have a niche festival, we wanted some variety,” Smith said. “There is something for everyone.”

The film festival grew out of the Envision Polson! Year-Round Committee, part of the Greater Polson Community Foundation, and first launched in 2013. Smith said the festival is held as a way to attract people to the area during the shoulder season, when fewer tourists are heading to Polson.

Last year’s festival was so successful that Smith said some people had to be turned away at the door. He said he is hoping for the same response this year. And there will be plenty of films to take in, including “Ride The Sky,” a feature length documentary about Joan Carson, a skydiver who lived in Kalispell in the late 1970s and was one of the founders of Skydive Lost Prairie. Tragically, on Memorial Day Weekend 1981, Carson died during a jump near Marion. Years later Paul Gorman, a high school acquaintance, set out to produce a documentary about Carson and the accident.

“Her death is kind of a mystery. It’s not clear what happened that day because there are conflicting reports,” he said.

According to Gorman’s movie, some witnesses say her parachute did not fully inflate, causing her to plummet to earth. She died on impact. In the documentary, Gorman traces his friend’s steps to Oregon and California, where she became one of the first female skydivers in the Bay Area.

“The film provided answers to me and I hope it does the same for the audience,” Gorman said.

For attendees looking for something lighter, Jeff Chiba Stearns is presenting an animated program on Saturday, Jan. 25, which includes his collaborative film, “Yellow Sticky Notes: Canadian Anijam.” Fifteen award-winning animators from Halifax to Vancouver collaborated on the project and each segment depicts a memorable day in their own lives.

“It’s like a diary entry,” Chiba Stearns said. “One person did the birth of their child and another person did a riot.

Each illustrator used the same tools – a book of Post-It notes, a black marker and a light box – to create their contribution.

Following the movie, Chiba Stearns will host a workshop about animation. He said it would give attendees a chance to learn about how much work goes into the craft. For example, to create just one second of film, an illustrator often has to make 24 drawings.

“It’s one of the most misunderstood art forms because people don’t understand what goes into it,” he said.

A full schedule of events is available online at www.flicpolson.com. Tickets can be purchased online or at Showboat Cinemas in Polson.
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