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Arts & Culture

Film Shot In Billings Premieres This Month

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A feature film shot in Billings almost 2 years ago gets a rare in-person world premiere at a film festival in April.

"We Burn Like This" is about a young woman, the descendent of a Holocaust survivor, learning the truth about a childhood accident amid a time of rising anti-Semitism in Billings.

"We Burn Like This" will enjoy a rarified in-person premier on Apr. 7 at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, one of the first festivals, if not the first to host in person premieres, albeit at two drive-in theaters in Santa Barbara. Writer, producer and director Alana Waksman will be in attendance to introduce her film and recognize her crew.

“And maybe get into some spontaneous conversations with people which I think is the most fun part of a film festival is the interaction you get to have with audiences,” Waksman says.

California residents will get the privilege to stream Waksman’s film from Ap. 1 through Apr. 10 during the run of the Santa Barbara festival.

“And then we also decided to loop in Montana audiences because the film…so many people who worked on the film and were involved and support us were in Montana and so we wanted to be able to celebrate with them, too,” Waksman says.

The film started as a short story written by Waksman more than a decade ago. Then she moved to Montana, joining Billings native and film producer/editor Marshall Granger in developing, shooting, editing and the post production of this film.

“It feels really surreal, I feel like I haven’t really been able to absorb what the end really means and it's been such a long drawn out process,” Waksman says.

Luckily enough for Waksman and Granger, filming was completed and editing was well underway when the pandemic struck and they kept editing.

"We Burn Like This" has been nominated for two awards at the Santa Barbara Film Festival: the Panavision Spirit Award for Best Independent Feature and the Anti-Defamation League Stand Up Award.

“To be nominated in these two ways both acknowledging the themes of the films and the anti-Semitism that we’re trying to bring awareness to and the feeling experience of how that feels. It’s wonderful to be recognized for that,” Waksman says.

"We Burn Like This" may be ready for release but Waksman said she is still interested in exploring the questions this movie raises of Jewish Identity and historical trauma.

She said she is developing a documentary version of this film where she and her father go to Poland where her family is originally from to get to the root of her inspiration.

“It was such a huge learning curve to make my first feature which is what this film is. I hope it will help everyone who was involved including myself to keep doing what we enjoy doing and keep telling stories,” Waksman says,

The in person premiere is Apr. 7 at the Stadium Drive-In in Santa Barbara. Residents of Montana and California can stream the movie from Apr. 1 to Apr. 10.