History

1st Annual MTFF
The Roxy Theater, home of MTFF, during the inaugural festival

Montana Film Festival began in 2015 at The Roxy Theater, spearheaded by Andrew Rizzo and Aaron Roos. As Missoula is home to several renowned festivals focusing in documentary, MTFF set out to create a home for narrative and experimental storytelling in cinema.

The inaugural year celebrated Montana on the silver screen with a retrospective of the state’s presence in films like Northfork, Heaven’s Gate and Always, alongside premieres for three Montana-made features. Despite a heavy Montana focus, the first year also set the course for the festival’s focus on bringing in boundary pushing, important films from the wider indie film circuit. Sean Baker’s Tangerine had its state premiere with lead actress Mya Taylor in attendance.

In 2016, the festival expanded from Montana content, welcoming featured guest Charles Burnett with Killer of Sheep and To Sleep With Anger. The second MTFF also served as the Montana premiere for Kelly Reichert’s Certain Women, starring our dear friend Lily Gladstone who joined LA Times critic Kenneth Turan for a live discussion.

For the third year of Montana Film Festival, we experimented with further community participation by partnering with sponsors to offer free admission to most screenings. This approach proved successful and opened more doors for involvement in the Missoula community.

Lily Gladstone and Kenneth Turan
Kenneth Turan (LA Times critic) in discussion with Lily Gladstone at Montana premiere of Certain Women
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We also launched Montana Film Forum, in partnership with Montana Film Office and Montana Film Society. This centerpiece event gives a platform to local crew and talent to meet and discuss the state of film in Montana.

These new practices carried on into the fourth year, strengthening our ties to the Missoula community and creating an environment in which our guests can create meaningful bonds and operate outside the traditional market oriented track of the film festival experience.

MT premieres at Montana Film Festival:

  • The Alchemist Cookbook
  • All About Nina
  • Always Shine
  • Among Mountain Crags
  • Bad Hurt
  • Bad Lucky Goat
  • The Ballad of Lefty Brown
  • Beach Rats
  • Birds Without Feathers
  • Certain Women
  • First Girl I Loved
  • I Am Not a Witch
  • I Believe in Unicorns
  • In Between
  • Krisha
  • Lemon
  • Little Woods
  • Love Like Gold
  • Lucky
  • Mandy
  • The Midnight Swim
  • No Light and No Land Anywhere
  • Results
  • A Stray
  • Subterranea
  • The Sun at Midnight
  • Super Dark Times
  • Tangerine
  • Tanna
  • Thunder Road
  • To Dust
  • Too Late
  • Tower
  • Track Town
  • The Triangle
  • Tyrel
  • Walking Out
  • Wildlife
Writer/director Wendy McColm (Birds Without Feathers) at Montana Film Festival 2018
Writer/director Wendy McColm (Birds Without Feathers) at Montana Film Festival 2018
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