'Holy Bread'

"Holy Bread" introduces viewers to Kurdish laborers who transport goods across the Iranian border.

Here are Sunday's highlights at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

All 50 short films are available to view throughout the 10-day festival. There are 13 blocks of short films, each of which can be accessed by one single-screening ticket or one bundle/pass use. The following features will open for viewing today:

“Duty Free” — At the age of 75, Rebecca is fired from her lifelong job as a hotel housekeeper. With scant savings after supporting two sons on her own, she struggles to find a new job and faces ageism in the process. Her son, Sian-Pierre, takes Rebecca on an unforgettable “bucket-list” adventure, and documents this bittersweet journey that uncovers the betrayals plaguing her past and the economic insecurity shaping not only her future, but that of an entire generation. Northwest Premiere. Feature Competition.

Live Q&A with Sian-Pierre Regis (director/son) and Rebecca Danigelis (mother/subject); 4 p.m.

“A Reckoning in Boston” — Coming together at a night course at a community center, Kafi Dixon and Carl Chandler were seeking to transform their lives. When James Rutenbeck, a white suburban filmmaker, comes to make a film about the school, he is forced to come to terms with his own complicity in racist structures in the community. Kafi and Carl come on board as producers of the film and the three bring to light the history of systemic racism that has spanned generations, along with its modern implications. "A Reckoning in Boston" shows that transformation, healing and social change begins within each of us. World Premiere. Feature Competition.

Live Q&A with James Rutenbeck (director), Kafi Dixon and Carl Chandler (producers), Llewellyn Smith (executive producer) and Fernando Ona; 6 p.m.

“Holy Bread” — Driven by poverty, hunger and despair, a group of Kurds perform the highly dangerous work of transporting goods across the Iranian border. On foot, they carry their loads along mountain paths that are rocky, steep, slippery with snow, or blisteringly hot. The men’s journeys are marked by harrowing and emotional stories. No one chooses to become a kulbar (“weary” or “desperate” in Farsi), but it’s an unavoidable consequence of not having any other form of work to support their families. North American Premiere. Feature Competition.

“The Snow Calls” — After bearing three daughters, Mina has just one more chance: Her next child has to be a boy, or her husband will marry another woman in accordance with Bakhtiari tribe (Iran) tradition. This time, Mina decides not to have an ultrasound, for fear of the result. As the snowdrifts become deeper, and the outside door will barely open anymore, the atmosphere in the household becomes increasingly oppressive. Will there be a happy ending with the birth of a son, or are we watching a life that is about to fall apart? North American Premiere. Feature Competition.

“Il Mio Corpo” — Under the Sicilian sunlight, Oscar collects scrap metal with his father. At the other end of town, Stanley, a Nigerian refugee, tidies the church, picks fruit, and herds sheep. Both share a desire for a better life and a feeling of having been thrown to the world, enduring the choices made by others. They meet in a cathartic encounter that is as intensely moving as it is fleeting. North American Premiere. Feature Competition.

Spotlight – Shorts Block: MSU MFA

We’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of Montana State University’s MFA program in Science & Natural History Filmmaking by screening a block of 10 short films by MSU student filmmakers. “The Grove” — Aspen trees play a significant role in Mountain West ecosystems (4 min); “As A Star” — What is a self-portrait? Is it what you see inside of yourself, or a reflection that the outside world sees? (5 min); “Propagation” — An avalanche forecaster reflects on his job and experiences in the mountains (5 min); “Breathe” — An exploration of Breathwork and its potential to release stuck emotion and drama (6 min); “The Rivers That Shape Us” — A man with deep connections to rivers demonstrates why advocating for the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act is crucial to preserving Montanans' unique ways of life (7 min); “Sweetwater” — An examination of Florida’s Sweetwater Creek, and the ways it connects humans of the cities and wildlands of the marsh. (7 min); “The Things She Leaves Behind” — Three video calls with her granddaughter reveal how an elderly woman fights off the hopelessness and isolation of pandemic life (7 min); “Years Gone By” — A poignant look at the once-thriving oyster towns of Greenbackville and Franklin City, VA (7 min); “Weep” — An investigation of the role of crying in medicine, psychology and even dramatic arts (8 min); “Powder Arousal” — What do sexual risk-taking and backcountry powder skiing have in common? More than you might think (11 min).

Live Q&A with filmmakers Rhett Barker (“Sweetwater”), Marit Ehmke (“The Grove”), Grace Weikert (“Years Gone By”), Chrissie Bodznick (“Breathe”), Harrison Bach (“Weep”), Eily Lea (“Powder Arousal”), Erinn Hermsen (“The Rivers That Shape Us”), Kascie Herron (“As A Star”); 5:30 p.m.

The 18th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival is an all-virtual affair.

Our online platform is super user-friendly. It allows viewers to browse film selections, pre-order and watch films on their phones, tablets, computers or TV screens. Details on how to sign up and purchase single-screening tickets, 5-film bundles, and festival passes can be found at bigskyfilmfest.org.

NOTE: Feature films generally have a four-day window in which they can be viewed. When a viewer unlocks a film or a shorts block, they have 40 hours to begin watching. Once viewing has begun, there is a 24-hour window in which to finish watching. Almost all films have a virtual Q&A with the filmmakers — included in the price of the ticket — and a number of those Q&As will be live, so viewers can participate.

Nick Davis is the media director for the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.