MSU MFA Q&A

A group of Montana filmmakers from MSU's Master of Fine Arts Science & Natural History Filmmaking Program were featured this weekend at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

The 11 short films brought the viewers from the top of mountains to the bottom of creeks. They explore emotions and share lessons from our elders. While all of these short films are very unique they all focus on a different aspect of science.

"When you hear that it is a program in science and natural history film making you think of people lecturing and it'll be about science issues and that's not true at all about these films they were very personal and creative films," MSU MFA Program Head Dennis Aig said.

Some filmmakers drew inspiration from their personal experiences.

"I did some disaster response work in the Virgin Islands after hurricane Maria and while I was there I ran into folks who were processing their trauma with breath work sessions," Director of Breathe, Chrissie Bodznick said.

Others shared their process of learning more about a specific topic.

"I studied geology back in Tennessee so we had no access to snow science or glacial anything so when I moved to Montana I was really excited to learn about that part of geology," Director of Powder Arousal Emily Lea said.

And even if it wasn't their first idea.

"It was like my third back up film, the other two failed earlier so I was like well the creek is still here so I can do that," Director of Sweetwater Richard Barker said, "It wound up being about the relationship between the city of Gainesville Florida and this wilderness area beneath it."

The shorts were made by graduate students in the MFA program through course work or as an independent study. This year marks the 20th year of the Science & Natural History Filmmaking program and MSU professors are proud their students are getting recognition for their hard work.

"They are held to a very high standard in those classes and we are very happy to see that the festival acknowledge them by including them," Aig said. "there were, I guess, 50 shorts and 11 of those are MSU shorts and we are very proud of that."

All 11 short films plus a Q & A with the directors can be watched online through the virtual festival.

On top of getting featured in the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, MSU's MFA Film program was recently ranked the best graduate program in the county for science filmmaking by intelligent.com

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