MAPS Set to Host Film Festival Program

Students in the MAPS Media Institute’s Film Production class shoot a scene in the girl’s bathroom at the program’s home in Hamilton’s Westview Center Tuesday evening. The program gives students with an interest in media arts the opportunity to get hands on experience and professional instruction.

The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival is presenting “Filmmakers in the Schools” in Ravalli County at the MAPS Media Institute on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

MAPS Founder and CEO Peter Rosten said MAPS is honored.

“They had been exclusive to Missoula, but decided to reach out to Ravalli County and they reached out to us,” Rosten said. “We are flattered and decided the simplest way to do it is to invite everyone to MAPS. The Big Sky Film Festival has proven to be a premier festival proving that Montana can get it done.”

Missoula has hosted the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival every February for the past 13 years as part of their mission to “celebrate and promote the art of nonfiction filmmaking, and to encourage media literacy by fostering public understanding and appreciation of documentary film.”

The festival provides the opportunity to see amazing and inspiring stories from around the world. The festival is dedicated to “educating young Montanans with film, opening their eyes to the stories of the world, and creating exciting opportunities for students in the art of filmmaking.”

The “Filmmakers in the Schools” program provides special screenings of age appropriate films to and often the filmmakers attend.

Two of the films scheduled for Tuesday are “Never Too Late” and “I Am Able” and the filmmakers will be on-site.

“Never Too Late” is about Shad Blair, a 36-year-old plumber living in Stevensville, who is chasing his childhood dream of becoming a professional basketball player. In the film, Blair travels to competition in Las Vegas. Both Blair and his coach, Ryan Wetzel, will be at the film screening.

“I Am Able” tells the story of Frederick Ndabaramiye who lived in Rwanda when, in 1994, the country was torn apart and four years later his bus was stopped by rebels. This film documents Ndabaramiye’s incredible recovery in the face of overwhelming odds and teaches audiences that “we are all truly able,” the press release said. “I Am Able” producer Jacob Siegel-Boettner will also be a guest filmmaker at the Hamilton showing.

All Ravalli County High School students are invited to attend the free film-showing event and will have the opportunity to ask questions, voice opinions and dive deeper into the content of the films.

Pause Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 0:00 Loaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00 Fullscreen 00:00 Unmute Clare Ann Harff, MAPS program director, said attendees would enjoy the films and interaction.

“The ‘Filmmakers in the Schools’ program provides the opportunity for critical discussion between filmmakers and students,” Harff said. “It also educates us on how visual media affects our lives. Students interact with all types of media throughout their day. An event like this, engages kids with the nuts and bolts of the filmmaking process, but also about the life skills of creative thinking, collaboration and story sharing. MAPS is honored to host this program and share documentaries from around the world with our Bitterroot community.”

Rosten said everyone is invited.

“Let’s pack the house,” Rosten said. “We’ll have films to show, film makers will be there, it’s free and everyone is invited. Our kids are excited. Imagine the Big Sky Film Festival reaching out to the public schools and finding us.”

The Big Sky Film Festival “Filmmakers in the Schools” program is 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the MAPS Media Institute 515 Madison St., Hamilton. For more information call Clare Ann Harff at 406-381-7230 or email