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2011 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival: Award Winners

Film festival poster featuring a man with wings riding a bike with movie reels for wheels

The 8th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival — which is still going on as of this writing in Missoula, Montana — has announced their list of award winners, giving prizes to seven films out of the dozens that screened this year. Plus, if you’re in Missoula and you’ve missed any of the winning films, there will be a repeat screening of them on the fest’s last two days on Feb. 19 & 20.

The big winner of the fest is the film This Way of Life, directed by Thomas Burstyn, which takes home the Best Feature Award. In addition to the honor, Burstyn will also be taking home $1000 in prize money. (The rest of the winners get $500 each, courtesy of The Documentary Channel.) This Way of Life chronicles the struggles of a New Zealand family as they try to hold onto their passion for raising and caring for horses.

The other big winner is director Kevin Gordon, who won awards for two films: His own Tuned In won the Big Sky Award, and the co-directed Dreams Awake that he made with Rebekah Meredith won the Mini-Doc Award. (A “mini-doc” is a film that’s under 15 minutes long.) Tuned In profiles Steve McGreevy, a “natural radio” pioneer; while Dreams Awake profiles Doroteo Garcia, a poetry writing immigrant who works as a janitor in the U.S.

Categories for the awards were broken down into two additional sub-sections. There were the typical “best of fest” awards as well as awards given to films for “Artistic Vision.” The full list of winners, plus their final screening schedules, are below.

Big Sky’s jurors this year were: Andrew Catauro of POV, Michael Lumpkin of the International Documentary Association, Ian McCluskey from NW Documentary, Kate Pearson of the Documentary Channel, Tracy Rector of Longhouse Media, Oscar-winning filmmaker Chuck Workman and Paco de Onis & Pamela Yates of Skylight Pictures.

THE AWARD WINNERS:

Best Feature
This Way of Life, dir. Thomas Burstyn

Feature Film Artistic Vision
Steam of Life, dir. Joonas Berghall and Mika Hotakainen

Best Short Film
Broken Doors, dir. Goro Toshimas

Mini-Doc
Dreams Awake, dir. Kevin Gordon and Rebekah Meredith

Mini-Doc Artistic Vision
Michael and His Dragon, dir. Briar March

Big Sky Award Winner
Tuned In, dir. Kevin Gordon

Big Sky Artistic Vision
Darwin, dir. Nick Brandestini

THE SCHEDULE:

Feb. 19
8:00 p.m.: “Award Winners”
Dreams Awake, dir. Kevin Gordon and Rebekah Meredith
Michael and His Dragon, dir. Briar March
Tuned In, dir. Kevin Gordon
Darwin, dir. Nick Brandestini

Feb. 20
8:00 p.m.: “Award Winners”
Broken Doors, dir. Goro Toshimas
This Way of Life, dir. Thomas Burstyn
Steam of Life, dir. Joonas Berghall and Mika Hotakainen


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