‘A personal connection’ Jewish culture celebrated at Polson film festival

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  • Jessica King, a producer of the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest, shares remarks as she introduces “Schindler’s List” on Jan. 27. (Photo provided)

  • 1

    Adam Yenser, a comedy writer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, performs at the Flathead Lake International Film Festival in Polson in late January. (Photo provided)

  • Jessica King, a producer of the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest, shares remarks as she introduces “Schindler’s List” on Jan. 27. (Photo provided)

  • 1

    Adam Yenser, a comedy writer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, performs at the Flathead Lake International Film Festival in Polson in late January. (Photo provided)

While she produces the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest, also known as FLIC, Jessica King also introduced a movie near to her heart.

The Polson resident gave the opening remarks to “Schindler’s List,” which was screened on the last day of FLIC, coincidentally on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27.

“It became, ‘Jessica, you have a personal connection to this film,’” she said a week after the annual film festival.

Raised in Southern California, Jessica grew up Jewish, spending her childhood and teenage years going to a summer sleepaway camp for Jewish youths. It was there that she said she connected with the Jewish culture, which has always been important to her.

Moving to Montana several years ago, she realized that it was up to her to find ways to celebrate the religion.

Going to the summer camp was “kind of easy in a way,” she recalled, because she was surrounded by other Jewish kids.

“Living in a non-Jewish community, if you want to express that side of your culture, you have to own that and take responsibility,” something she noted can be translated to any religion.

“If you want it, you have to have it. You have to create opportunities for it, even if it’s just for your family,” she said.

THE IDEA for Jessica to introduce the film came from her husband, David King. Initially, David was going to introduce the 1993 film and it’s producer, Gerald Molen.

“The more we talked about it, the more it was like, ‘there is information that needs to be relayed,’” Jessica said.

Following the movie, David introduced Molen, who talked for about 40 minutes.

Jessica said that about 70 people watched the movie, while about 10 or so trickled in for the question-and-answer session.

“It was a beautiful day,” she said, commenting that the warmer weather and sun made the day even better.

“The people that were there really wanted to be there,” she said.

Conversations about the Holocaust were held, which Jessica said was a goal of Flic organizers.

“That’s what we want. We want people to walk away from this, talking, applying to what they see in culture today,” she said.

ATTENDANCE HAS gradually climbed through the seven years of the event, David, FLIC producer, said after the festival.

While it is hard to get an exact headcount, last year FLIC saw approximately 900 guests, and this year organizers estimate there was a 33 percent increase to about 1,200 film enthusiasts.

“Word is getting out that this is a credible film festival in Montana in the winter,” King said.

This year, 38 film makers from across the United States attended the festival, representing 16 films.

“That was very exciting for us” King said, as attendees were able to hear the stories behind the films. “It’s wonderful to see the film and then see the filmmaker talk about their project.”

MOLEN HAILS from Great Falls and was on hand to speak about his experiences making epic film “Schindler’s List.”

“It’s great for our audience ... to hear and ask questions of someone like (Molen) and the experiences he had” making the film, David said. “It’s fascinating.”

David said that organizers are hopeful that “another passion project” involving a “high-caliber flimmaker” will take shape for next year’s festival.

Another “high-caliber” personality at FLIC this year was Adam Yenser, a comedian and Emmy-Award winning writer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

“Adam brought the house down,” David said.

Yenser performed live stand-up for about 20 minutes, then shared clips from the Ellen show.

“I never heard the audience so excited and laughing so hard” in the festival’s history, King said.

A FAN-FAVORITE film that created a lot of buzz, David said, was “My Grandpa’s Fiddle.”

The film won the audience award, with close contenders including “Ginger” and “About a Donkey.”

Discussions are already underway for the 2020 FLIC.

“Adam Yenser said he’d love to come back next year, and if he can’t” he is going to send others to FLIC, David noted.

“We enjoyed this one so much,” David said. “We’re already brainstorming ideas.”

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