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MINT Film Festival will open with film shot in Billings

Wild Animal.jpg
Posted at 10:00 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 12:06:49-04

The Montana International Film Festival, known as the MINT Film Festival, starts at the Babcock Theater in Billings on Thursday.

The fourth annual festival features 85 films that will be shown at the Babcock and at Art House Cinema, along with panel discussions at the MINT office.

One of the first films on opening night is about a female boxer and was shot in Billings.

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KTVQ photo

"'Wild Animal' first and foremost is an MMA film," said Joseph Marconi, writer & director of the film. "But at the same time don't call it a boxing movie because it's not a boxing film in your traditional sense. It really deals with kind of the other aspects of the boxing world, specifically head trauma and the emotional fallout that could happen there."

Ireland Moran is a fighter from Miles City and plays the main character.

The film is loosely inspired by her experiences.

"When Ireland and I started talking, I thought well maybe I could actually do this the opposite way around," Marconi said. "Maybe instead of making an actress into a fighter, I can turn a fighter into an actress. This kind of thing has been done numerous times, you know, but for me it was new. For her, it was brand new. She'd never been on screen before."

Marconi said the film also looks at how equine therapy helps fighters recover.

"A large part of the film takes place in an equine therapy center, where she works with an equine therapist, and other veterans and patients to help get past her trauma," he said.

"Some of her kind of emotional experiences that she went through with her own head trauma, serve as the inspiring jumping off point for the film," Marconi said. "I really wanted to explore the inner life and the inner fight that we're going through and all the different aspects of what it takes to be an elite athlete."

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KTVQ photo

"We have several films that are made in Billings," said Brian Murnion, MINT Film Festival founder & executive director. "We really wanted to highlight something that embraced our state, embraced our community, that just brings people together. And the opening program really just highlights, we think very well, just the variety of perspective and storytelling abilities that's being produced in our state."

The MINT Film Festival runs Thursday through Sunday at the Babock Theater.

The MINT office is at 119 North 29th St.

More information on "Wild Animal" is available on the film's website.