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‘Chasing Ice’ Takes Top Prize at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

'Chasing Ice' Takes Top Prize at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival announced Jeff Orlowski’s “Chasing Ice,” which follows National Geographic environmental photographer James Balog as the best feature at its awards ceremony Thursday night.

Stewart Copeland received the award for best “mini-doc”with “Mr. Smith’s Peach Seeds,”portrait of Tennessee folk artist Roger Smith.

Best short film went to Matt Leigh for “Blue Rinse,” while the Big Sky Award went to Brian Bolster for “The Lookout.” And Audrey Hall’s “Painting John,” a film about portrait artist Hugh Wilson, received the Artistic Excellence Award.

Press release follows:

The judges of the 9th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival have announced this year’s award winning films in the four competitive categories: Best Feature, Big Sky Award, Best Short Film and Best Mini Doc (under 15 minutes). The awards were announced Thursday evening at a ceremony at The Loft in downtown Missoula. Each category winner will receive $500, courtesy of The Documentary Channel.

This year’s jury included Yance Ford of POV, Amy Shatsky-Gambrill of Independent Lens,  Ben Fowlie of The Camden International Film Festival, Reva Goldberg of Cinereach, and filmmakers Marshall Curry, Beth Harrington and Caveh Zahedi.


At a reception sponsored by the Documentary Channel, the jury announced the following awards:

FEATURE FILM COMPETITION – The Best Feature prize was awarded to Jeff Orlowski’s CHASING ICE, about National Geographic environmental photographer James Balog.  Jurors Amy Shattsky and Ben Fowlie called the film, “an extremely timely and important documentary about one man’s journey to demonstrate global warming in action by photographing the recession of the glaciers. Touching, terrifying and informative, we feel the highs, lows, frustrations and joys of the ultimate success of his experiment. Through a patient and thoughtful filmmaking approach, the director vividly captures the power and awe of the glaciers falling apart. As they recede into the ocean, the glaciers cry out, warning us of the peril that our planet is in.”

SHORT FILM COMPETITION – Reva Goldberg and Caveh Zahedi awarded the Short Film prize to Matt Leigh’s BLUE RINSE, a sweet observational film set in a Dublin hair salon.  They also awarded an Artistic Vision Award to KUDZU VINE by Josh Gibson.

MINI-DOC COMPETITION – Yance Ford awarded the Mini Doc awarded to MR SMITH’S PEACH SEEDS, Stewart Copeland’s beautifully realized portrait of Tennessee folk artist Roger Smith.

BIG SKY AWARD – Brian Bolster’s film THE LOOKOUT received the Big Sky Award, presented by filmmakers Marshall Curry and Beth Harrington.  In addition, PAINTING JOHN, Audrey Hall’s film about portrait artist Hugh Wilson was given an Artistic Excellence Award.

All awarded films will rescreen the final weekend of the festival.  The Awards Screenings will take place in the Wilma Theatre, February 25 & 26,  The schedule for this weekend’s screenings is as follows:


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