Living in Montana has its ups and downs. There’s incredible scenery and nature at arm’s length, and although sparsely populated, this state is home to some of the most genuine and kind people I have ever met. That being said, I do wish some things would make their way up north a little more often. Independent movies are one instance. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not someone who despises blockbusters or avoids something merely because it’s mainstream, but as someone who enjoys cinema and has started intently following lesser-known directors it is sometimes difficult to find movies I desperately want to see. Luckily Bozeman has an organization that shows the lesser-known, critically acclaimed gems that normally wouldn’t make their way into Bozeman theaters.
The Bozeman Film Society was founded in 1978 by a group of MSU English and Film professors. According to the official website, the foundation’s aim is to “seek out and present films and documentaries which engage, entertain and foster an understanding of the world community around us.” When it was originally founded, the society’s screenings took place in the Ellen Theater once or twice a month. But popularity grew, and in 1981 the society partnered with the now derelict Rialto Theater and upped their schedule to four screenings a week. After 25 years of partnership, The Rialto and The Ellen were both sold, and the society was displaced temporarily. They then moved to the theater inside of the Emerson Cultural center in 2006, and have called it their home ever since.
The society generally shows 18-20 shows per year at a pace of 1 or 2 per month. The showings are a combination of newly released world cinema, documentaries and independent films. At the moment all of the movies are shown using an old-fashioned 35 mm projector (a rarity in itself), but the society plans to replace it with a digital projector in 2015.
Movies are generally announced about two months ahead of time, since it can be so arduous to track down the films. The society has announced three upcoming films over the next two months.
“A Most Wanted Man” is a thriller from director Anton Corbijn that centers on a half-Chechen, half-Russian immigrant who causes a stir in Hamburg’s Islamic community and draws the attention of both American and German security forces. The film features several great actors, including Rachel McAdams, Willem DaFoe and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. This film will be showed on Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Emerson Center.
“Frank” is a quirky comedy from director Lenny Abrahamson that tells the story of the eccentric, eponymous protagonist. Played by Michael Fassbender, Frank is an unknown musician who constantly wears a large, fake head. The story follows him and his bandmates as they strive to achieve fame. It will be shown on Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Emerson.
“The Congress” from director Ari Folman is a Sci-Fi drama that focuses on Robin Wright. Playing a version of herself for the film, she fears that her film career is over and agrees to have her personality and body digitized for future generations. The film then explores what happens a number of years later when Wright’s digitized version rises to immense stardom. The showing for this film will be on Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Emerson Center.
The vast majority of showings take place at the Emerson for one night only, usually at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 for general admission or $7 for students and seniors, and can be bought at the door, on their website at bozemanfilmsociety.org or at Cactus Records in downtown Bozeman. The truly committed can buy a Patron Pass for $150 which grants access to any of the movies throughout the year and comes with a $25 Montana Ale Works gift card.
I highly encourage you to follow the Bozeman Film Society in all that they do. They offer some fantastic movies that you won’t find anywhere else and are pure Bozeman, through and through.