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Filmmakers, enthusiasts to converge at 12th annual FLIC film festival

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News from FLIC Publicity

POLSON — Now in its 12th year, the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest (FLIC) offers a diverse selection of domestic and international films, featuring entries from a dozen countries as well as many homegrown Montana films. FLIC 2024 is presented throughout the weekend of Feb. 16-18, at the Showboat Stadium 6, 416 Main Street, Polson. Encore screenings will run from Sunday evening, Feb. 18 through Thursday, Feb. 22.

Among the dozens of filmmakers who plan to attend FLIC in person this year are Oregonian Ray Nomoto Robison and Montana resident Mary Riitano, both of whom have participated in FLIC numerous times over the years. 

Ray Nomoto Robison’s first visit to FLIC was in 2017 with his film “Dear Future Self,” which was well received. Ray returned two years later with a narrative short called “An Affair Remains.” Last year, Ray traveled again to share his film “The Trunk.” It’s official: Ray has become a FLIC regular and is a beloved artist and friend to many Polson locals. 

This year, Ray’s film “Will & Tess” is nominated for Best Picture – Short. “Will & Tess” tells a story that’s close to Ray’s heart and real-life experience. The short film’s synopsis: At 90 years of age, Tess must accept that it is time for roles to reverse. For decades she and her husband Will have been supportive and caring parents and now they need to allow their children to care for them.

About his film, Ray shares, “Will & Tess” is the most personal film I’ve ever made. I wrote it in frustration with my elderly parents (90 and 96 years of age), especially my Dad, after trying to have them sign a Power of Attorney (POA) to allow me or any of their other children to take over responsibility in the event something were to happen to one or both of them. My Dad would have nothing to do with a POA – whether it be for finances or medical decisions – and implied that as soon as he signed it we, his children, would put him in an “old folks home.” As I wrote the screenplay it did evolve into a more loving and understanding story. I don’t plan to ever have my parents see the film. I have made it because for me it is cathartic and I hope my siblings can also find some peace in its story.”

FLIC Director David W. King interviewed Ray about his near-annual treks to FLIC. Ray shared, “For me – and I’ve been to a lot of film festivals – I enjoy the film festivals like FLIC that are in smaller communities where audiences turn out. I’ve been to some of the ones in bigger cities, which, unless they’re really a major film festival, the bigger city [festivals] seem to be just a lot of other filmmakers. What I enjoy about FLIC is that I feel like I’m showing my film in front of a real audience, and that’s very important to me as a filmmaker.”

Ray continues, “[The FLIC staff is] always so friendly and I definitely recognize so many of them that have come back each year. I’m only there for a weekend during the year, but yet you feel so familiar and comfortable with so many people that I know are a part of the theater and FLIC as well. I just feel very comfortable coming in there. And that is one of the things that’s really nice. For a lot of people, whether they be filmmakers or not, going into this situation where you don’t know anyone can be very difficult. But, with the way the people are there, the staff, you walk in and you just really feel very comfortable in being there. The filmmakers really do feel embraced once they come into Polson and attend all the events of FLIC.”

When asked about Polson’s new Showboat Stadium 6 where FLIC screens, Ray responds, “The venue is just incredible. Showing at the Showboat is always so nice; things look so good and sound so good as well. That is one of the things that keeps me coming back is that venue you have there in Polson. So many of the other [FLIC] events are within walking distance and that is so nice. It’s sort of a vacation to be able to go to the film festival. I’m looking forward to the Taste of Polson, which starts things off on Friday night. It’s going to be a good time.”

Montana resident Mary Riitano is also a FLIC veteran, having played diverse roles in half a dozen FLIC Official Selection films between 2018 and 2024. Like Ray Nomoto Robison, Mary is a familiar and beloved member of FLIC’s growing artistic family. Her performances in “What Separates Us” (Best Picture, 2018), “Useless” (2019), “Wuthering Heights” (Best Picture, 2020), “Swing” (Best Actress nominee), and two of this year’s powerful Montana-made films, “Homestead” and “They Don’t Leave,” have all been stellar turns by a consummate artist. 

Mary was Minnesota-born and raised in Montana by her parents Calvin and Joanne Pritchard, a janitor and homemaker respectively. Along with her brother and sister, her family found laughter in the simplest of living. Their scrappy survival taught Mary resilience. The acting arts made an appearance in her young life through school plays. Because of very rural living, further participation in the arts was not available to her growing up. Acting muses would not leave her heart alone and kept tapping Mary on the shoulder. Finally, she was to open to them after friends grabbed her to audition – and she was cast in her first community theatre play in the town to which she moved in young adulthood. Mary devoured those opportunities. Her first acting training and homes were in several community theatres including IT Productions (a black box theatre she helped open), Grand Street Theatre, and Carroll College.

In a phone interview with King, Mary shared, “FLIC is this little treasure of a film festival tucked in the mountains in Montana, that has the most fantastic film festival runners. I mean, I’ve been to quite a few film festivals. You guys, I would consider are A-listers of film festivals. You care very much about your filmmakers, you care very much about your content, and you stay very consistent with your messaging. The experience is always topnotch; I cannot say enough good things about it.”

Riitano continues, “I think the thing that FLIC/you guys do there is you manage topnotch programming while keeping the approachability to films in a realm where, if it’s the filmgoer or the filmmaker, there’s so much connectivity that happens between the connoisseur of the art and the creator of the art. I love the fact that there’s a hometown, cozy feel to it, and you’re able to see your film show up amazing on screen with the technological updates.”

“The FLIC volunteers are attentive, and they know exactly what’s going on; there isn’t a dull eye or a dull ear in the place,” she added. “And I would have to say that moderating the Q&As afterwards, I love how you and [FLIC Producer] Jessica spread the attention out to everyone that’s onstage, so each person gets to share an experience or something special, or a favorite nugget about their filming. I love how you guys style your Q&As for filmmakers.”

FLIC 2024 gets underway at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16 with the second annual “Taste of Polson” gathering in the lobby of the Showboat Stadium 6. As with last year, many of Polson’s local eateries will offer samplings of their food fair as filmmakers and FLIC attendees mingle. FLIC screenings commence at 6 p.m. 

For full details visit, where a PDF of the entire 16-page FLIC program and schedule can be viewed and downloaded. It provides descriptions of all 47 FLIC films, information on attending filmmakers like Ray Nomoto Robison and Mary Riitano, awards nominees, Saturday morning’s free breakfast and children’s screening of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, special food and entertainment events, the FLIC Awards Show and FLIC sponsors.

All films, times and events are subject to change. Festival passes are available for purchase at FLIC is also on Instagram and Facebook, where information is updated regularly. Email:

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