Category Archives: film

Rob Grabow THE YEAR OF THE DOG

The Bozeman Film Society begins their 2023 season of bringing outstanding films to Bozeman with the locally produced film, THE YEAR OF THE DOG, screening at the Ellen Theatre on Jan. 4th. We spoke with Rob Grabow, who wrote, produced, co-directed, co-edited, and starred in, this film.

A portion of the proceed benefits the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter.

As it says on the film’s website, https://www.theyearofthedogmovie.com/

Rob landed his first movie role at 15 in the Oscar-nominated film starring Ethan Hawke, Snow Falling on Cedars. He’s been hooked since then. More recently, he has had speaking roles in the Syfy series Z Nation and the critically acclaimed film Mickey and the Bear, which premiered at Cannes and SXSW film festivals.

He wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the multi-award-winning short film Method, which premiered at the Chelsea Film Festival, where Academy Award-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) awarded Rob the Best Original Screenplay award. Rob was also nominated for Best Actor and Best Director at the Beaufort International Film Festival. He is an alum of the MFA Acting program at the Actor’s Studio Drama School in New York.

Some of Rob’s more esoteric life highlights include backpacking into Egypt two weeks before the war in Iraq, consulting Bhutan on its public advertising policy, and traveling to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to write an article for Rolling Stone magazine.

Also featured is Michael Spears, the famous Lakota actor who has lived in Bozeman for 17+ years. Michael Spears’s role as Otter in Dances with Wolves (1990) catapulted him into film, music, and public speaking. Some of Spears’s career highlights since Dances with Wolves include his role as Dog Star in Spielberg’s 2005 miniseries Into the West and his role as Tenkill in Angels in Stardust (2014), for which he received critical acclaim in The New York Times. In 2014 and 2015, Spears played Savanukah in Colonial Williamsburg’s open-air stage production of The Beloved Women of Chota, the first Indigenous-centric production of its kind for Colonial Williamsburg. Spears also works in the film industry as a technical adviser for Native American cultures, soundtrack recording artist, and voiceover actor. When not filming, he travels as a keynote speaker on topics such as indigenous health and wellness, mental health, and Lakota spirituality.

Of course, one of Rob’s co-stars is Caleb, a rescue dog who had bounced between foster homes for years because he was reportedly “too much dog”—is there such a thing? He eventually landed in the loving care of Cathy and Gregg Pittman of the Performing Animal Troupe. His crucial performance as Yup’ik, in The Year of the Dog marks Caleb’s feature-film debut. Rumors of Brando reincarnated floated around set.

Jon Proudstar is a veteran actor of forty-two productions. He is currently a reoccurring character on FX/Disney’s Reservation Dogs. Jon had six big releases in 2021, which include Reservation Dogs, The Heart Stays, Wastelander, Deep Woods, and Mammoth. A product of the Sundance Institute’s 1997 Native American Writers Lab, Proudstar was chosen for the 2005 Directors Lab, where he worked alongside Ed Harris, Stanley Tucci, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Robert Redford. Some of Proudstar’s more notable films are Bodies, Rest & Motion (1993 Cannes Film Festival), Skinwalkers, Barking Water, and Four Sheets to the Wind. Jon trained at Los Angeles Theatre and with legendary acting coach Joan Darling.

Darwin Lumbattis is a Butte-based Army Veteran who served 16 years including active-duty combat in Iraq from 1990-1992 before retiring as a Calvary Scout. He is an avid dog-safety advocate and founder of the Rocky Mountain Working Dogs. Darwin served as a key advisor on all matters concerning weight pulling — he also proved his acting chops during an audition and landed a key speaking role in the film.

Julian Higgins GOD’S COUNTRY

The Bozeman Film Society is screening the film, God’s Country, based on Montana author, James Lee Burke’s short story, Winter Light, as interpreted by filmmaker, Julian Higgins. It is being shown at the Ellen Theater on October 19, 2022.


Julian Higgins directed a short film, based on Winter Light, of that same name in 2015. It followed closely the characters and action of Burke’s short story.
This full length film, God’s Country, is shot entirely in Montana with half of the production team Montana based. His first feature length narrative film, it expands Burke’s story and explores even more contemporary issues as a response to the repercussions of the 2016 election.

You can view Julian’s award winning short film, Thief, on his website, https://julianh.com/thief

Thanks to Lisa McGrory for production assistance. You can find out more at https://www.bozemanfilmsociety.org/

Richard Gray MURDER AT YELLOWSTONE CITY

Richard Gray has directed movies such as Robert the Bruce, Broken Ghost and Sugar Mountain. His latest film, MURDER AT YELLOWSTONE CITY, is the first feature length film to have been shot at the new Yellowstone Film Ranch outside of Pray, MT.

In this interview, we discuss the challenges of filming during Covid; his partnership with Livingston’s Carter Boehm and Chico Hot Spring proprietor, Colin Davis, in building the Yellowstone Film Ranch; their efforts to help pass The Montana Economic Development Industry Advancement (MEDIA) Act; and prospects for the Montana Film Industry after its passage.

The Bozeman Film Society will be premiering MURDER AT YELLOWSTONE RANCH on Friday, July 22 at the historic Ellen Theater. They post this at their website: The once peaceful and booming Yellowstone City has fallen on hard times, but when a local prospector strikes gold, things seem to be turning around. Any hope is soon shattered when the prospector is found dead and the Sheriff quickly arrests a mysterious newcomer. But nothing is so simple in this sleepy western town, and more than a few of the locals have secrets to keep and reasons to kill. As the brutal murders continue, pitting neighbor against neighbor, Yellowstone City goes down a bloody path to a final showdown that not all will survive. 123 minutes. NR. Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Thomas Jane, Isaiah Mustafa, Anna Camp, Aimee Garcia, Emma Kenney, with Nat Wolff, and Richard Dreyfuss.

We interviewed director/producer Richard Gray on July 11, 2022.

Articles pertinent to this interview:

https://bozemanfilmsociety.org/event/murder-at-yellowstone-city/

‘Murder at Yellowstone City’ Review: A Well-Crafted Mix of Traditional Western and Murder Mystery Elements https://variety.com/2022/film/reviews/murder-at-yellowstone-city-review-1235301280/

Yellowstone Film Ranch https://bigskyjournal.com/yellowstone-film-ranch/

Alana Waksman WE BURN LIKE THIS

The film, WE BURN LIKE THIS, is a debut feature written, directed and produced by Alana Waksman.

It’s a coming-of-age story of historical trauma, survival, and healing. When 22-year-old Rae, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, is targeted by Neo-Nazis in Billings, Montana, her ancestors’ trauma becomes real. It’s inspired by true events and features a terrific ensemble cast of largely Montana actors, as well as film crew.

We spoke with Alana Waksman on June 10, 2022.

From the website https://www.weburnlikethis.com/

director’s statement
I never met my grandparents. They were taken from their homes near Radomsko, Poland in 1942 and survived forced labor camps as young teenagers in Russia. I have been told that my grandfather survived a period of time by eating grass. After the war, my grandparents found themselves at a displaced persons camp in Germany. This is where my dad was born, and two years later they were able to immigrate to Brooklyn, New York. My grandparents were proud to be Americans, but my father grew up ashamed of his immigrant and Jewish identities as it was often the reason he was singled out, threatened, and bullied.
The day after the 2016 election, Neo-Nazi pamphlets showed up on the doorsteps of Har Shalom Synagogue in Missoula, Montana where I was living at the time. For the first time in my life, my family’s history was suddenly very real. 
I made this film in order to sort through my thoughts about my identity, the inherited effects of historical trauma, and what self-acceptance and self-love looks like. We Burn Like This is my debut feature, which I have been developing for the last seven years. It is my contribution to the greater healing of Jewish bigotry, which continues to be even more important, timely, and urgent.
The storming of the capitol on January 6th was a continued reminder after an exhausting and frightening four years that we are living beside much hatred and rage, and our new administration does not erase the true colors and feelings of our fellow Americans. I believe that it matters to share this story and inspire discussion about Jewish identity and historical trauma in present day America.
May we find a way to forgive, accept, and love ourselves and others. May we find the perfection even in the darkest times and in the darkest memories. May this film be a part of that process, and may we all radically heal.
-Alana Waksman

Only love can stop war: a Northern Cheyenne chief’s call to the world https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jun/17/only-love-can-stop-war-a-call-to-the-world-from-a-northern-cheyenne-chie

Chikara Motomura: JOURNEY TO HOKUSAI

Chikara Motomura produced, wrote, directed, edited, and did the cinematography & sound in his film, JOURNEY TO HOKUSAI, which follows Marin County artist, Tom Killion, from his northern California studio to Kyoto, Japan, to study with 5th generation master print makers to learn how to print in the Japanese wood block tradition of Katsushika Hokusai.

In but four and a half days, he produced beautiful wood block prints using the ancient techniques on paper made by “Living National Treasure,” Ichibei Iwano, ninth generation master papermaker.

Moonlit Sierra Pines by Tom Killian (2018)

Sara Dosa: FIRE OF LOVE

Sara Dosa wrote, directed and produced the extraordinary documentary, FIRE OF LOVE. It premiered at this year’s Sundance Festival as the Day One film in the US Documentary Competition, & won the Jonathan Oppenheimer Editing Award for Erin Casper & Jocelyne Chaput’s superb editing, as well as raves from critics. Her work has won a Peabody Award for AUDRIE & DAISY and an Emmy Award for REMASTERED: TRICKY DICK AND THE MAN IN BLACK.

National Geographic Films acquired FIRE OF LOVE for release in 2022. It screens at the Mendocino Film Festival audiences on June 3rd & 4th at the Coast Cinemas.

FIRE OF LOVE recounts the love between, and work of, two young French volcanologists, Katia and Maurice Kraffts, whose courageous exploration and documentation of volcanoes revolutionized our understanding of Earth processes. They dedicated their lives to trying to answer questions like “what forms & re-forms the world.” and “What is it that makes the Earth’s heart beat, her blood flow?”

They were one in their obsession with volcanoes, but they were complementary in their approaches and division of labor, which certainly advanced the success of their work. When asked if they were the only volcanologist couples in one of their many media appearances, Maurice said he “doesn’t think there are any other couples, & if there are, I pity them, because it’s very hard for volcanologists to live together – it’s volcanic…. We erupt often.”

FIRE OF LOVE is dedicated to the 43 people who lost their lives on Mt. Unzen on June, 3, 1991, which is when Katia and Maurice Krafft were finally consumed by that eruption they were studying.

You can hear our 2015 interview with Gillen D’Arcy Wood about his book, TAMBORA: THE ERUPTION THAT CHANGED THE WORLD here: https://forthright.media/2022/05/25/gillen-darcy-wood-tambora-the-eruption-that-changed-the-world/

Why Was the Tonga Eruption So Massive? Scientists Have New Clues https://www.wired.com/story/why-was-the-tonga-eruption-so-massive-scientists-have-new-clues/?utm_source=pocket-newtab

THE WOBBLIES Deborah Shaffer & Stewart Bird

As more and more workers in the United States are organizing to create unions to represent their interests, and corporations are spending millions and millions of dollars to thwart their efforts, it is good to honor this International Workers Day, May Day, by celebrating the restoration and screening of the film, THE WOBBLIES. It was produced during the 1970s and premiered at the NY Film Festival in 1979, and has been recently restored to 4K digital format by the Museum of Modern Art, as well as being inducted into The National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2021, one of only 25 films added each year.

May 1st is celebrated in many countries around the world as a holiday to honor laborers. May 1st was chosen because it marked the day, May 1st, 1886, when a general strike began in the United States to campaign for an 8 hour work day. Four days later in the so-called Haymarket Affair in Chicago police arrived to disperse a packed public assembly in Haymarket Square in support of the general strike, when a person, never identified, threw a bomb. The police fired on the workers. In the ensuing melée seven police officers were killed, as well as at least four citizens. In addition, 60 police were injured as were at least 115 citizens. Hundreds of labor leaders and sympathizers were rounded-up and four were executed by hanging, after a trial that many historians consider a miscarriage of justice. On May 5, 1886 in Milwaukee, WI, the state militia fired on a crowd of strikers, killing seven, including a schoolboy and a man feeding his chickens in his own yard.

We interviewed filmmakers, Deborah Shaffer and Stewart Bird, about their film, THE WOBBLIES, about the period about 20 years after the deadly events during the General Strike of 1886, as a new effort to organize ALL the workers began. They state:

“When we started production on The Wobblies in 1977 our goal was to rescue and record an almost completely neglected chapter of American history as told by its elderly survivors. We never imagined then that the themes of labor exploitation, anti-immigrant legislation, and racial and gender discrimination would resonate as strongly today. We couldn’t be prouder to have the film included last year in the National Film Registry, and to have Kino Lorber present the new 4K MoMA restoration nationwide on International Workers Day.”

About Producer-Director Deborah Shaffer
Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Deborah Shaffer began making social issue documentaries as a member of the Newsreel Collective in the ‘70’s. She co-founded Pandora Films, one of the first women’s film companies, which produced several shorts. Her first feature documentary, The Wobblies, premiered at the prestigious New York Film Festival in 1979. During the ’80s Shaffer focused on human rights in Central America and Latin America, directing many films including Witness to War: Dr. Charlie Clements, which won the Academy Award® for Short Documentary in 1985, and Fire from the Mountain and Dance of Hope, which both played at the Sundance Film Festival. Shaffer directed one of the first post-September 11 films, From the Ashes: 10 Artists followed by From the Ashes: Epilogue, which premiered at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals. She is also the Executive Producer of the Academy Award®-nominated short Asylum, and has directed numerous acclaimed public television programs on women and the arts. She directed and produced To Be Heard, which won awards at numerous festivals and aired nationwide on PBS. Her most recent film, Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack premiered at DOC NYC and won the Audience Award at the Hamptons Documentary Film Festival. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Irene Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award by the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

About Producer-Director – Editor Stewart Bird
Stewart Bird is a Bronx-born writer and filmmaker. Murder at the Yeshiva is his first novel and he is presently writing his second NYPD homicide detective novel with Detective Mo Shuman. He wrote Solidarity Forever, an oral history of the I.W.W. (University of Minnesota Press) with Dan Georgakas and Deborah Shaffer. He also co-authored the play “The Wobblies: The U.S. vs. Wm. D. Haywood et. al.,” (with Peter Robilotta), which was performed at the Hudson Guild Theatre in New York and published by Smyrna Press. Bird wrote a one-hour story for PBS entitled “The Mighty Pawns” about a black inner-city chess team, which was shown nationally on Wonderworks and distributed nationally by Disney. As a writer/producer for Fox television’s Current Affair, he produced various segments: “Alan Berg,” “Elvis Presley,” “A Cycle of Justice,” and “The Night Natalie Died.” He worked as a writer/producer for CBS News’ 48 Hours and produced segments like “Another America,” “Underground,” “Stuck on Welfare,” and “Earth Wars.” He has produced numerous feature-length documentaries including “Finally Got the News,” about black auto workers in Detroit; “Retratos,” on the Puerto Rican community in New York; “Coming Home,” on Vietnam Veterans; “Building the American Dream: Levittown, NY” and The Wobblies (with Deborah Shaffer) focusing on the Industrial Workers of the World a turn-of-the-century labor union.

One can rent Wobblies via this link: https://kinonow.com/film/the-wobblies/624202eb7b0e1200011ce8c3

Right-wing snowflakes love to whine about free speech — this socialist went to jail for it https://www.salon.com/2022/05/29/right-wing-snowflakes-love-to-whine-about-free-speech–this-socialist-went-to-jail-for-it/

Jessica Watkins SPECIALish

Jessica Watkins is a stand-up comedian, actress and producer, whose documentary, SPECIALish, is being released on May 11, 2021 through Random Media. Combining her love of standup and adventure, SPECIALish follows Jessica’s  2014 walk across America. She spent over 8 months on a solo walking comedy tour beginning at Lewes, Delaware and ending in Oceanside, California. She performed standup in a dozen states along the way, pushing a running stroller full of gear and living off the kindness of strangers. She filmed over 300 hours of footage chronicling her experience, recorded a comedy special upon return to tell her story, and combined the two to create the award winning documentary, SPECIALish, which was the winner of Best Film at The Broad Humor Festival and Best Film at New Filmmakers Festival NYC .

You can find out more about Jessica Watkins and SPECIALish by going to her website:

jessicawatkinscomedy.com or via instagram @ ajessicawtkins.

Beth Ann Kennedy Bozeman Film Celebration/BZN International Film Festival

On August 14, 2020, we spoke with Beth Ann Kennedy, artistic/managing director of the Bozeman Film Celebration, about how she came to create the BZN International Film Festival, whose first season was in June of 2018. Her training in speech, music, dance and the dramatic arts, from the early 1970s, as well as her decades of experience acting, directing and producing in theater and film, contributed to her success in bringing to Bozeman what has become an annual Film Festival. Her excellent interpersonal skills and work with business and international government leaders, educators, entertainment celebrities, musicians, choreographers and thousands of American youths, prepared her for the gargantuan effort of coordinating the many people and jobs required in bringing a film festival into reality. After only its second year, the BZN International Film Festival was listed by Film Freeway among the top 100 festivals in the world. We asked her about her experiences, challenges, and goals over the past three years, and about re-creating the festival during a pandemic. Our conversation in a garden includes commentary from the neighborhood birds and dogs.

Members of the 2019 BZN International Film Festival Staff

Some of the 2020 BZN International Film Festival Staff, dutifully socially distancing. Beth Ann Kennedy in white top at center.

The Great American Lie – Soraya Chemaly

Screen Shot 2020-08-15 at 2.51.47 PM.pngEmmy Award-winning filmmaker, and First Partner of California Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s newest documentary is The Great American Lie. The film exposes social and economic immobility, viewed through the lens of our gendered values.

Screen Shot 2020-08-15 at 2.31.48 PM

After the response to her first film, Miss Representation, which came out in 2011, Jennifer Siebel Newsom created The Representation Project.

Our guest today on Radio Goes to the Movies is Soraya Chemaly. She is the Executive Director of The Representation Project, which has produced two more feature length documentaries examining the harmful impacts of the role gender exerts in our culture for both males and females, as shown in the second film, The Mask You Live In.

Screen Shot 2020-08-15 at 2.32.39 PM.png

The third film, which is being screened at the 2020 BZN International Film Festival, is THE GREAT AMERICAN LIE.
Soraya Chemaly is an award-winning writer, activist, and media critic. She writes and speaks frequently on topics related to social justice, free speech, violence, and technology. The former director and co-founder of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project, she has long been committed to expanding women’s civic and political participation and the power of socially transformative storytelling.

Soraya-Chemaly_Please-Credit-Karen-Sayre-1024x520
Her work as a writer, activist, and organizer is featured widely in media, books, and academic research. She is the author of the seminal book, Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger.
Soraya currently serves on the national boards of the Women’s Media Center, Women in Journalism, and the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project. We spoke with her on August 12, 2020.

Screen Shot 2020-08-15 at 2.52.06 PM.pngNewsome interviewing journalist Charles M. Blow for The Great American Lie

Here is the link to the article cited in the interview:

Treatment of vice presidential contenders highlights struggle to overcome patriarchal status quo By Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Soraya Chemaly   https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/Treatment-of-VP-contenders-shows-struggle-to-15465771.php