• David Ullman

Big Sky 2021 Film Festival & DocShop

Updated: May 18

Wrapping up a lovely week attending the 18th Annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and DocShop. Though I really missed Missoula and the mountains, the Virtual Cinema experience worked smoothly and even allowed me to see more films and Q&A sessions than I would have been able to in person. Kudos to the whole Big Sky Doc Fest crew. Alana Wakman did a great job producing the DocShop panels. Bonnie, the ASL Interpreter, also deserves a shout.

Through the Livestream sessions, I enjoyed learning about the process of adapting documentary filmmaking storytelling to the medium of podcasting from Diane Hodson, Ann Heppermann, Nick Quah, and Sharon Shattuck.

I was moved, uplifted, and ultimately knocked-out by the "In The Fight" short films program which included "Favor & Grace," "I'm Free Now, You Are Free," "Say His Name: Five Days for George Floyd," "The Mountain & the Maiden," and "Team Meryland." I especially appreciated "Team Meryland" director Gabriel Gaurano's comments in the closing moments of the Q&A, which was moderated by Walla Walla Movie Crush Co-Founder and Artistic Director Warren Etheredge and featured the equally inspiring Adrian Burrell, Michael Workman, Ash Goh Hua, Shmuel Hoffman, Anton von Heiseler, and Cy Dodson.


Youth v Gov post-film Q&A

The festival's centerpiece film, Youth v Gov, devastated me from the first minutes through the final credits. I could barely handle the bravery and perseverance on display from the young plaintiffs and Julia Olson's team. I needed the coda of the Rachel-Gregg-moderated Q&A with Olson, director Christi Cooper, and Kelsey Juliana herself to catch my breath.

"The Art of the Pitch" DocShop panel

Finally, I benefited from Chloe Gbai and Caitlin Burke’s "Art of the Pitch" DocShop session yesterday and the 9 Big Sky Pitches webcast today.


Hoping to catch another couple of films over the weekend. Thank you to the whole 2021 Big Sky staff for an exemplary online festival and conference.