The mission of the Bigfork Independent Film Festival is to actively support filmmakers in Montana. Despite small budgets and hectic schedules, these talented artists work hard to put their vision on the screen.

Hardly comparable to Hollywood’s blockbusters, these films embody a lot more than big effects or spectacle. They embody the passions of the producers, screenwriters, directors, cast and crews who create them, and we think that’s worth celebrating. Ultimately a film’s purpose is to be watched and enjoyed. Our mission is to create a place where local films can do just that.

Last year we focused exclusively on the Flathead Valley. This was our first year so we wanted to start small. Two features and four shorts were shown to a small, but very enthusiastic audience. Many of them had never seen a local independent film before, didn't know who the directors or producers were or anything about their movies. It was a unique cinematic experience that the audience enjoyed and want more of.

This time were opening the festival to filmmakers throughout Montana. We're doubling the length of the festival from 1 to 2 days and doubling the award money to $2,000. Whether your film is a feature, short, animated or student film here's your opportunity to show it to a supportive audience in a comfortable venue. It's an chance to talk about your film, answer audience questions and perhaps win a cash award for your efforts.

Your film will be judged by a panel of film enthusiasts, local filmmakers, and ex-Hollywood professionals. Producers like Jerry Molen, who has produced blockbuster films including "Schindler's List", "Jurassic Park", and "Minority Report". Actors like Peter Ford, who worked on a number of classic films, including "Gilda" and "3:10 to Yuma", with his legendary father Glenn Ford. DP Bill Butler, who worked on landmark films such as "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Jaws" and "Grease".

If you live in Montana, or you've made a film here, submit it for a chance to see it on the big screen AND perhaps go home with some extra cash in your pocket.

The Bigfork Independent Film Festival may never get as big as Sundance, but we plan to make our mark as a place for movie lovers to celebrate the cinematic arts. Don’t be fooled by the idea of 'local'. We’re proud to offer quality entertainment that's made exclusively in Montana.

You might not think of Montana as a "hotbed" for movie making, but we've found a number of talented people making all kinds of films from dramatic shorts to horror features. It's inspiring to see local filmmakers helping each other in a myriad of ways. This makes for a collaborative filmmaking environment. Lots of talented people, working together, to get their projects completed.

The first independent festival came about shortly after the first retrospective film festival in Bigfork. I was approached by local filmmakers looking for a venue for their work, and while their films didn't fit into the retrospective festival I was impressed by the quality of their work.

By showcasing their films in a separate festival we were able to present them to a community that would have otherwise never seen them. At the same time the filmmakers had a chance to interact directly with their audience. Bringing these talented filmmakers together with engaged audience members created a synergy that is rare these days.

For this year we will be showing a variety of feature, short, animated, and student films broken up into blocks. Following each block, the filmmaker’s are invited to participate in a live Q&A session to talk about their filmmaking process and to answer any audience questions.

First and Second place awards, along with Audience Choice awards, will be presented during BIFF. Award winners are showcased on the BIFF website and Facebook page. Screened films receive recognition through the screening schedule. All official selection films will receive a digital BIFF laurels file.

2nd Annual Bigfork Indie Film Festival April 6 & 7, 2018

• We encourage submission of shorts, features, animation, and student films—all are welcome submissions. Features can be no longer than 120 minutes, shorts no longer than 30 minutes.

• Submissions are preferred as digital files, and may be submitted in HD formats. Typically, films are projected in 720P or 1080P. BIFF prefers files for feature length films be kept to under 50GB. There are compression codecs that permit quality film presentation in limited file sizes. Visit for compression suggestions and guidelines.

• DVD and Blu-ray submissions are also accepted. (2) copies (NTSC); please make sure your disc works on a standalone player. Discs may NOT be copy protected, because we rip disc content to create digital files for VLP projection from a hard drive-based platform.

• Print your name or the name of the production company (if applicable), movie title, program length, date of production and phone number on your DVD or with permanent marker to identify; do not put a paper label on your DVD.

• Applicants must submit three (3) stills/screenshots from their film to be included in promotional material and the printed screening program. BIFF reserves the right to choose from among photos submitted for larger release, or if none are suitable, to find our choice of screenshot to promote the film in our marketing and print products.

• Applicants are encouraged to send any film promotional materials (i.e. posters, flyers, publicity stills).
• Complete the entry form.
• DVDs will not be returned.
• Non-refundable entry fees:

Either a $30, $35 or $40 submission fee for shorts, features or animated films, depending on when they are submitted. There is a standard $10 submission fee for students.

All submission fees go to the Bigfork Community Players, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization #81-0414064.

• There is no compensation for the showing of your film.

• By default, selected films are adjudicated and eligible for awards.

• In general, only G, PG, and PG-13 approximate-rated films will be reviewed for consideration. Occasional exceptions are made on a film-by-film basis at the judge's discretion.

• BIFF is a celebration of the cinema arts, and, as such, reserves the right to not show films which in the opinion of the judges are not suitable for all age groups, are sexually explicit, or are abrasively controversial and/or divisive. The judging panel will include representatives of the performing arts, filmmaking, and business communities. All judging is confidential; all decisions are final.

• Applicant must have rightful ownership or permission to all submitted content including music.

• IMPORTANT NOTE: Because it takes a lot of time and effort to schedule, publish programs, otherwise publicize, and deal with all the other logistics of a mounting a film festival, upon notification that your film is an official BIFF selection, you will have seven days to notify BIFF if you wish to pull your film from the festival. If BIFF has not heard from you within seven days of your official selection notification your film will be shown in the festival and you will not be permitted to remove it from the screening schedule. If you have any doubts about your ability to follow through and participate, please be advised of this policy.

• It is the sole responsibility of the Applicant to clear all content of the Film from any and all actual or potential legal claims and issues, including, without limitation, claims based upon theories of libel, defamation, invasion of privacy, violation of rights of publicity, theft of trade secrets, breach of confidence, breach of confidential relationship, and breach of express or implied contract (“Third Party Claim(s)”). BIFF expressly disavows any responsibility for, and will not be held responsible for, any unauthorized inclusion of any content or materials within or relating to the submitted Film that are or may be the basis for any Third Party Claims based upon any of the foregoing legal theories or others. BIFF reserves the right to disqualify, without refund of any or all submission fees previously collected from the Applicant, any film that is or may become the subject of any Third Party Claims. In the event that any Third Party Claim(s) shall be asserted by any person or entity, Applicant shall fully indemnify and defend BIFF and its representatives and affiliates from any liability in connection therewith and from any and all fees and expenses, including but not limited to attorney's fees, that each of any of them may incur in connection therewith.

Overall Rating
  • Jim Ereaux

    The Bigfork Independent Film Festival was well organized and run. A key attribute of BIFF is the emphasis on Montana film-makers. For many small, independent film-makers it is difficult to get your movies accepted when other festivals are looking for the "best of the best International films". It was very refreshing to find BIFF. BIFF gives fellow Montanans the opportunity to watch both films from Montana film makers and movies about Montana. If fully expect the BIFF year three will be pheonominal!

    April 2018
    Response from festival:

    Thanks Jim. I really appreciate the support we have gotten from filmmakers like you.