We can’t tell you about all the films featured at the Covellite International Film Festival this week, but can we give you a few highlights.
Here are 11 films that will be featured at the Covellite in the days ahead.
The International Covellite Film Festival gears up this week with a whole new lineup, along with industry workshops, Q&As with filmmakers, and even a fashion show showcasing Covellite apparel and looks made from repurposed materials.
The festival will feature around 150 narrative features, documentaries, and short films from throughout the U.S. and world. And that’s not to mention the after parties and concerts the festival will showcase throughout the week.
The festival will also host a screenwriting competition 2 p.m., Sunday at the Knights of Columbus.
Two of the entrants, Vincent Rannazzisi and James Chapman, will present their pilot for “Richest Hill on Earth,” which depicts the saga between the Butte Copper Kings.
New to the festival this year will be an increased utilization of jukebox locations, where festivalgoers can watch films on demand after their initial screenings. Don Andrews, executive director of the festival, said some of the films will only be available on-demand.
Perhaps the most notable difference to this year’s festival is the date.
The festival has traditionally run in September, but festival organizers decided to move the festival to the third week of June, drastically cutting their time to prepare and raise money.
According to Andrews, it’s been an exercise in how to get little sleep. “It’s like we changed our birthday,” he said.
Despite the headaches involved, both he and Programming Director Brian Boyd believe changing the date will be healthy for the festival in the long run.
“There are some differences and some growing pains but at the same time I think it will be a lot more sustainable,” said Boyd.
They noted that the September date made traveling difficult for filmmakers because of winter weather conditions. September is also between two big events in the industry—the Toronto International Film Festival and The Emmys—which meant many filmmakers had prior engagements.
Last but not least, the two festival organizers hope the summer date will entice filmmakers to stick around for a bit and explore the state.
And you never know, they might get inspired by the scenery.
With the help of volunteers, Boyd has been able to concentrate the entirety of his energy on programming this year.
But what will also be new for Boyd in the months ahead is his tax bracket: Boyd and Covellite Artistic Director Kristin Smith got engaged over the holidays.
“She said yes,” said Boyd.
Covellite 2019 marks Smith’s second year serving as the festival’s artistic director.
Originally from the Hamilton and Missoula areas, Smith has a background in fashion, event planning and costume design. She made her way to Butte in 2016 to work on the set of “Brown,” where she and Boyd began cultivating a relationship. She eventually decided to stay in Butte, becoming the festival’s artistic director.
Smith designed the apparel for both the 2019 and 2018 seasons.
This year, she’s included a few “upcycled” items that incorporate unused t-shirts and other items from previous iterations of the festival. She’s turned old Covellite T-shirts into swag bags and skirts and has also created new designs by using previous years’ logos as appliques.
Saturday night Smith will host a fashion show to showcase Covellite apparel and garments made from repurposed materials. The event, dubbed the 4th Annual Covellite Ball, takes place 10:30 p.m. in the Copper Bowl ballroom of the Finlen Hotel and includes music by Danny Felix and his brass band.
As in previous years, the festival will also showcase several Montana films.
“Zulu Summer” of course will make a showing—at 6 p.m., Saturday at the Covellite Theatre—along with “Saving the Burg: a Story of Love, Sweat and Beers,” which screens 1 p.m., Friday, also at the Covellite.
Directed by Philipsburg-resident and award-winning filmmaker Jim Jenner, the film tells the story of how residents collaborated to revitalize the former mining town and bring it back from an economic brink.
“All it takes is faith and vision,” Boyd said of Philipsburg’s revitalization story.
Other Montana films include, among others, “Monster Gold,” “Precious Metal” and a film by recent Butte High School graduate Clint Connors. The film, called “The Puppet Master,” is part of the festival’s student showcase and will be available on demand.
The festival’s opener this year is the feature-length documentary “Flint: The Poisoning of an American City,” which depicts the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan.
The film is directed by David Barnhart and edited by Covellite alumnus Scott Lansing.
Lots of filmmakers and journalists have tackled the subject, but Boyd said what makes this film unique is the filmmakers’ three-dimensional approach.
“It takes it beyond the news cycle. It takes it too the people,” said Boyd.
“We always like the underdog films that stand up and say something,” Andrews added.
“Flint,” screens at 8 p.m., Wednesday at the Covellite Theatre during an opening-night reception.
As for Smith, she says Andrews and Boyd “are some of the craziest guys” she’s ever met for starting a festival from scratch in Butte, America.
“I think how they’ve brought this thing to the community and have been building it is invaluable. And I’m excited to be apart of it,” she said.
“I think it’s going to keep getting better every year,” she added.
For more info on show times and other films, visit covellitefilmfest.org.
“Flint: The Poisoning of an American City”
Documentary feature, 8 p.m., Wednesday, Covellite Theatre
Directed by David Barnhart
“Flint: The Poisoning of an American City” documents the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where an effort to cut costs has led to water contaminated by dangerous amounts of lead and other chemicals.
The film documents the current struggle of city residents and follows the environmental history of the river and how the continued neglect of city infrastructure and environmental regulations have led to the poisoning of a city.
In a synopsis for “Flint,” filmmakers cite a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which found that 5,300 jurisdictions in the U.S. were in violation of lead-testing regulations in 2015, affecting 18 million Americans.
“This documentary educates but also enrages and seeks to radically change how we view and value water,” the filmmakers write.
“Flint” explores how this could happen in America and how this event should serve as a warning for the rest of the country.
Documentary feature, on demand at jukebox locations
Directed by Cassidy Friedman
Eric Butler, a Hurricane Katrina survivor and pioneer of the restorative justice movement, relocates and finds work as a school counselor at a high school in Oakland, California, enforcing his no-nonsense approach to counseling vulnerable Black and Latino teenagers.
Shot over two years, the film follows Butler's impassioned efforts to nurture troubled youth and keep them in school, fighting racial discrimination by replacing snap-decision suspensions and expulsions with gritty, intimate and honest mentoring.
But when his own teenage son is arrested and beaten in jail, he begins to question his methods and ability–not just as a teacher, but also as a father. With incredible access, “Circles” is tells an inspirational story about a father desperate to provide his son with the leadership and compassion he never received from his own.
“Saving The Burg: a Story of Love, Sweat and Beers”
Documentary feature, 1 p.m., Friday, Covellite Theatre
Directed by Jim Jenner
Award-winning filmmaker and Philipsburg resident Jim Jenner was an eyewitness and investor in what perhaps is one of the great economic-revival stories in recent Montana history.
In “Saving the Burg,” Jenner details the last quarter-century in tiny Philipsburg. Once a booming mining town, Philipsburg almost became a ghost town in the 1980s, but a local grassroots effort gradually restored the historic downtown and earned the town national recognition.
With interviews with key players and those who bore witness to the town’s revival, the film tells a heartwarming comeback story and asks a question that so many small, rural communities have asked: how do you bring a town back from the brink and make it thrive?
Documentary feature, 6 p.m., Saturday, Covellite Theatre
Directed by Eric Michael Schrader and Joseph Litzinger
“The Zulus are coming.” So Dark Sevier, a DJ for a low-power, independent radio station in Butte announced to listeners one evening in May 2017.
By this point, many in the Mining City had been eagerly following the strange and curious series of events that would eventually bring a Zulu prince from Nongoma, South Africa, to their town of around 34,600 people. Initially thought to be something along the lines of a Nigerian email scam, what would actually transpire would become a moment of cross-cultural exchange.
Set against the turmoil and divisiveness of the age of President Donald Trump and the 2016 election, “Zulu Summer” reaffirms the value of humanity’s common ground.
“This story, about people from opposite sides of the planet coming together in an attempt to understand and learn from one another, is both vital and urgent in our current global landscape,” Schrader and Litzinger write.
“My Summer as a Goth”
Narrative feature, 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Covellite Theatre
Directed by Tara Johnson-Medinger
“My Summer as a Goth” is a coming-of-age story about the sometimes-painful, often-entertaining search for identity and love in adolescence. After the sudden death of her father, 16-year-old Joey Javitts is sent to stay with her eccentric grandparents while her author mother promotes her latest novel. Joey promptly falls for the beguiling Goth boy next door, Victor, and is transformed by him and his merry band of misfits in black. Set in present-day Portland, “My Summer as a Goth” navigates Joey's relationships with her new friends, her family and herself.
Narrative feature, 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Covellite Theatre
Directed by Ridge Mallery
Created by Montana filmmaker Ridge Mallery, “Monster Gold” is a mockumentary that pokes fun at the likes of Bear Grylls and “The Blair Witch Project.” The film tells the story of a millennial with daddy issues who films his "survival skills," as he journeys through the Rocky Mountain wilderness in search of a mythical gold nugget guarded by a monster.
Narrative feature, 3 p.m., Friday, Finlen Hotel ballroom
Directed by Sanghoon Lee
“Banana Season” is a dramedy centered on an unusually beautiful relationship between a little person and an Asian mixed martial arts fighter. A tale of true friendship and taking flight, “Banana Season,” is a glimpse into two souls at a point in their lives when they will either flower or fade.
Narrative feature, 6 p.m., Thursday, Covellite Theatre
Directed by Dustin Morrow
"Black Pool" is a thriller that centers on a revenge-fueled, cat-and-mouse game of imprisonment and interrogation. Thirty years ago, Michael’s life was shattered by a shadowy figure he saw for only a fleeting moment. But tonight, through a chance encounter, he believes he’s found the man responsible for ruining his life —and he’s going to make him pay.
But does he have the right man? And how far will he go for the truth?
“Grand View Blvd”
Narrative feature, 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Covellite Theatre
Directed by Spencer McCall
An ex cult guru attempts to make amends for his past transgressions by hiring a failed workplace-conduct videographer to tell his highly subjective life story.
“The Scent of Rain & Lightning”
Narrative feature, on demand at jukebox locations
Directed by Blake Robbins
In this film based on the novel “The Scent of Rain and Lightning” by Nancy Pickard, a young woman learns her parents' killer has been released from jail. She is forced to revisit old wounds while discovering the destructive power of hate and the true cost of family secrets fully revealing themselves.
“6 Weeks to Mother's Day”
Documentary feature, 4 p.m., Friday, Butte Central Catholic High School auditorium
Directed by Marvin Blunte
Nestled in a remote jungle in Thailand is a unique school that is home for 150 underprivileged and orphaned children. The students of the democratic Children’s Village have as much voice as their teachers, participating in council meetings to make key decisions about their education and community, gaining empowerment in the process. As the 35th anniversary of the school approaches, the children make preparations to honor its extraordinary founder, the woman they all call Mother Aew.
Venues: Covellite Theatre, 215 W. Broadway St.; Hotel Finlen Copper Bowl Ballroom, 100 E. Broadway St.; Butte Central Catholic High School auditorium, 9 S. Idaho St.
On demand locations: Clark Chateau, from 2 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 321 W. Broadway St.; Fifty One Below, 2 to 10 p.m., Thursday and Friday, 53 W. Park St.; Quarry Brewing, 3:30 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 124 W. Broadway St.
Admission: Admissions for screenings is $5. On-demand screenings can be accessed with a donation amount of your choice. All-week passes are $75 and include access to after parties.
For more info, visit covellitefilmfest.org or call 406-498-6869 or 406-565-8265.