116 minutes, 2007, DVCAM

‘Libby, Montana’ debuts in New York
Missoulian, April 07, 2005
By Jamie Kelly

“Libby, Montana” has made it to New York.

High Plains Films’ documentary about asbestos poisoning and the deaths of more than 200 people makes its way to DVD just as it’s getting a debut in the Big Apple.

The film, released last year after four years in the making, will be shown to at the Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater on Thursday as part of the center’s Independents Night screenings.

For filmmaker Doug Hawes-Davis, getting a New York showing doesn’t just increase interest in the film, though it certainly does that; it represents one of the many steps - albeit in the long run, a small one - toward a little thing we call the Oscars.

“We’re not kidding ourselves that we’re going to win an Academy Award, but why not?” says the co-producer of the film.

More important is the exposure the film will enjoy, says Hawes-Davis. Success in New York - i.e., getting interest from a major distributor - can launch a nationwide release of the documentary.

“A lot of theatrical distributors will look at it,” he says. “The idea would be to get it into independent theaters. A major secondary goal is a TV broadcast.”

HBO has already politely refused the documentary, but Hawes-Davis notes there are many other television venues - the Discovery Channel, PBS - that may have an interest in one day broadcasting it.

On hand for the New York debut will be a variety of advocacy groups - health and labor, chief among them - to talk to the media about the film and the issues surrounding it.

The DVD version of the film features more than an hour of bonus features, including deleted scenes and original theatrical trailers.

For Hawes-Davis, the idea that his film, co-produced by Dru Carr, is showing in a 200-seat theater in New York is exciting and more than a bit humbling. And in the end, it could be fruitful.

“I’d like to think that not everything revolves around New York, but it certainly helps,” he says.