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FLIC celebrates its first dozen years Feb. 16-18

| February 15, 2024 12:00 AM

Now in its 12th year, the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest (FLIC) offers a diverse selection of domestic and international films screening Feb. 16-18 at Showboat Stadium 6 in Polson. Encore screenings continue at 7 p.m. nightly, Feb. 18-22.

FLIC 2024 features entries from a dozen countries as well as many homegrown Montana films in a showcase that FLIC director David W. King predicts will be “our best yet.”

With dozens of filmmakers from across the U.S. and Canada planning to attend in person, audiences can anticipate “spirited question-and-answer sessions following at least 13 of our 16 screening blocks,” many of those with multiple filmmakers, King said.  

“That's what makes FLIC so special,” he added. “These wonderful, passionate people are right there, in the theatres, sharing their personal experiences with the FLIC audience and one another.”

Among the film lineup, a local favorite is apt to be FLIC veteran filmmaker Jim Ereaux’s “20 Shades of Green,” which explores the history and music of the Montana ShamRockers. Interviews, rehearsals and performances offer a unique perspective on the eccentric and funny Polson band.

The ShamRockers will be in attendance at their 2:30 p.m. screening on Saturday and will perform at 9:30 p.m. at The Durham in Polson.

Other filmmakers planning to attend in person this year include Oregonian Ray Nomoto Robison and Montana actress Mary Riitano, both of whom have participated in FLIC numerous times over the years.

Robison made his first visit to FLIC in 2017 with his film “Dear Future Self,” returned two years later with the narrative short, “An Affair Remains,” and again last year with “The Trunk.” This year’s offering, “Will and Tess,” is nominated for Best Picture – Short. Robison describes it as “the most personal film I’ve ever made” as it deals with the frustration he experiences while guiding his elderly parents (ages 90 and 96) through the aging process.

“I don’t plan to ever have my parents see the film,” he said. “I have made it because for me it is cathartic and I hope my siblings can also find some peace in its story.”

Robison also told King that he enjoys screening his films in Polson where “I feel like I’m showing my film in front of a real audience, and that’s very important to me as a filmmaker.”

Riitano is also a FLIC veteran, having played diverse roles in half a dozen FLIC Official Selection films between 2018 and 2024. Her performances in “What Separates Us” (Best Picture, 2018), “Useless” (2019), “Wuthering Heights” (Best Picture, 2020), “Swing” (Best Actress nominee), and two of this year’s powerful Montana-made films, “Homestead” and “They Don’t Leave,” have all been stellar turns by a consummate artist, whose talents were honed on Montana stages.

In a phone interview with King, Riitano described FLIC as “this little treasure of a film festival tucked in the mountains in Montana … You care very much about your filmmakers, you care very much about your content, and you stay very consistent with your messaging. The experience is always topnotch.”

Showtimes for FLIC 12

FLIC 2024 gets underway at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, with the second annual “Taste of Polson” gathering in the lobby of the Showboat Stadium 6. As with last year, many of Polson’s local eateries will offer samplings of their food as filmmakers and FLIC attendees mingle. Screening begin at 6 p.m. on multiple Showboat Stadium 6 screens.

FLIC resumes at 9:15 a.m. Saturday morning with a free egg burrito breakfast and children’s screening of “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” sponsored by the Polson Rotary Club.

Screenings continue at 12:15 p.m. into the evening on multiple screens with a break from 4:30-6 p.m. for an informal filmmaker/attendee mixer at the Cove Deli and Pizza.

The Good Coffee Roasting Company on Main Street hosts a light breakfast mixer for filmmakers and festival attendees at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, featuring a variety of drinks and fresh baked food for purchase.

The FLIC 2024 weekend draws to a festive close with an awards ceremony and dessert reception from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Showboat, including presentation of the Audience Award given to FLIC watchers’ overall favorite.

“Lots of food, laughter, and kinship between filmmakers and people who love movies” are on tap during the social mixers, King said. “It makes for an outstanding celebration for all involved."

A PDF of the entire 16-page FLIC program and schedule can be viewed and downloaded at FLICPolson.com. The website also provides descriptions of all 47 FLIC films, information on attending filmmakers and awards nominees, special events, the FLIC Awards Show, and the festival’s sponsors, “without whom FLIC wouldn’t exist,” says King.

Festival passes are also available online.

    Mary Riitano fields questions from FLIC Producer Jessica King at FLIC 2023, where Riitano's film "Swing" screened. (Photo by Alex Kowalchik, Vladi Media)
 
 
    The Montana ShamRockers make their film debut in Jim Ereaux's "20 Shades of Green," screening Saturday afternoon during the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest in Polson. (FLIC courtesy photo)
 
 
    Director Ray Notono Robison returns to FLIC with his short film, "Will & Tess." (Photo by Alex Kowalchik, Vladi Media)