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FLIC 2021 features world, North American premieres

by Lake County Leader
| January 28, 2021 12:30 AM

The ninth annual Flathead Lake International Cinemafest (FLIC) comes to Polson this weekend, with shows on multiple screens starting at 6 p.m. Friday. This will be the first year for the festival in the new Showboat Stadium 6 at 416 Main St.

The weekend will feature full-length films, shorts, animation, student films and documentaries from Montana, the U.S. and around the world. About two dozen filmmakers plan to travel to Montana to participate in the festival in person.

Two made-in-Montana films will be featured.

“Last Tracks,” directed by Erik Peterson of Livingston, tells the story of former world-class athlete Alan Jackson, 87, who, after “shedding a lifetime of belongings, moving to an assisted-living facility with his ailing sweetheart, and now coping with losing his mind, embraces his last tracks, and what remains despite the losses,” a synopsis states.

“Learning to Splitboard in the Northern Rockies” is directed by Alex Maier, also of Livingston. Maier is an outdoor filmmaker who has specialized in hiking documentaries that focus on the benefits of spending time in the wilderness. The film tells of a midwestern boy who moves to Montana to get into backcountry snowboarding, and the adventure of traveling through the mountains in winter.

FLIC 2021 will feature two world premiere feature films and two North American premiere features. A Ukrainian film, “Pulse,” tells the true story of a young Ukrainian field athlete whose dream to become an Olympic athlete is shattered by a car accident that causes her to lose most of her eyesight. She refuses to give up and seeks to prove that not even this obstacle can prevent her from achieving her dreams. The film’s director, Sergii Chebotarenko, is traveling from Ukraine to Polson to share his film and participate in a Q&A session following its weekend screenings.

“Killing the Shepherd,” the other world premiere film, is a documentary about a remote community in Africa, led by a woman chief, that attempts to break the stranglehold of absolute poverty by waging a war on wildlife poaching by both subsistence and bush meat gangs. The chief finds help in the form of a safari operator, and they work together to bring stability to the community. Representatives from the film will be in attendance to join in the Q&A session following its screening at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

The feature documentary film “More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story” has its North American premiere at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Pat Morita played Arnold, who ran the diner in the popular TV show “Happy Days,” as well as the iconic karate instructor, Mr. Miyagi in “The Karate Kid.”

The film presents a painfully-revealing account of Mr. Morita’s much-too-brief time here on earth, tracing his journey from being bed-bound as a boy to performing under bright lights, and racial discrimination in Hollywood.

”Deep inside that sweet, generous, multi-talented performer seethed an army of demons that even alcohol and drugs couldn't mask,” according to a synopsis.

The second North American premiere film is “The Soul of a Cyclist” from Portugal. Through a group of “classic” cyclists and their common interest in the classic bicycle, the film explores the values that are being lost in our modern society, such as the importance of friendship, ecology, valuing the old, minimalism and other important keys to a happier life. This film screens at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The FLIC 2021 weekend draws to a festive close with an awards show and pre-packaged, COVID-observant dessert reception from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The Audience Award will be given to the FLIC audience’s overall favorite film. The awards show is free to the public.

For its COVID safety precautions, FLIC 2021 will employ the same nationwide CinemaSafe guidelines currently in place at the Showboat Stadium 6. FLIC will not be hosting its traditional social events like opening parties or public gatherings outside the theater space. If you miss FLIC weekend, the Showboat Stadium 6 will host FLIC 2021 encore screenings Sunday through Feb. 4.

A virtual festival component to FLIC 2021 will be available Friday, Feb. 5 through Thursday, March 4. Virtual FLIC 2021 will be accessible on the FLIC Polson.com website beginning Feb. 4. “More than Miyagi” and “Pulse” will not be available in the virtual festival.

Visit FLICPolson.com for FLIC 2021 program and screenings schedules, festival passes and individual screening tickets, and encore and virtual festival schedules. Email contact@flicpolson.com or visit FLIC on Facebook for more information.

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The feature documentary film “More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story” has its North American premiere at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. (Courtesy of FLIC)

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“Last Tracks,” directed by Erik Peterson of Livingston, tells the story of former world-class athlete Alan Jackson. (Courtesy of FLIC)