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Montana's Sweet 16 to premier Sept. 29 & Oct. 5

UMW News Bureau

“Montana’s Sweet 16,” a film about skiing all 16 of Montana’s ski resorts in 16 days, will premier at Maverick Mountain on Saturday, Sept. 29 and again at UMW’s Beier Auditorium on Friday, Oct. 5.

Sweet Sixteen poster of a skier through powder snow

The film was produced by Montana Western business major Cory Birkenbuel and Kevin Hilton of Bozeman, Mont. In January 2012, Birkenbuel and Hilton traveled to all 16 of Montana’s ski resorts in 16 days, filming themselves and local skiers as well as conducting interviews with skiers and resort owners.

The filmmakers finished their tour at Birkenbuel’s home mountain, Maverick Mountain, on Jan. 15, 2012. Birkenbuel said the premiers will be an exciting for the film as he and Hilton prepare to submit it to film festivals across the region.

“The film is very passionate and emotional,” Birkenbuel explained.

“The film is very passionate and emotional,” Birkenbuel explained. “It makes us very happy to have reached our goals producing a ski film. The viewings will be a fun time and to see the reaction on people’s faces and get feedback from the audience. That feedback will help us prepare for film festivals we plan on submitting to.”

The two filmmakers garnered media attention across the state, appearing in newspapers and on radio and television news. Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer even sent Birkenbuel a personal note congratulating him on the endeavor. Birkenbuel said he wanted to make a different ski film that focused more on Montana and the culture surrounding the state’s many mountains, from mom-and-pop operations to internationally known resorts.

With a focus on Montana, the film’s soundtrack will also exclusively feature the music of Montana musicians. Birkenbuel said the film and scholarship give him a chance to give back to everyone who supported the unique project.

“Kevin has been doing an amazing job editing and putting the film together,” Birkenbuel finished. “He is very talented and has a bright future in the film industry. He and I would like to thank everyone who has supported us and sponsored us on this great adventure. Most of all we, would like to thank our families and our mothers Kathy Hilton and Peggy Birkenbuel for helping us get where we are today.”

The premier at Maverick Mountain includes a barbecue beginning at 5 p.m. The film will be screened outside at 8 p.m. with a question-and-answer session following. The second viewing at the Beier Auditorium on the UMW campus will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets for both viewings are $10 and will be available at the door. All proceeds will benefit the Cory Birkenbuel Scholarship Fund at the University of Montana Western.