‘Mavericks’ documentary from Montana PBS receives two prestigious awards

BOZEMAN — “Mavericks,” a documentary about Montana’s freestyle skiing legacy from Montana PBS, recently received two awards.

The film won second place in the National Press Photographers Association Best of Photojournalism awards in the documentary-long form category. In addition, “Mavericks” was named best documentary feature at the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest, which was held Feb. 24-26 in Polson.

“'Mavericks' gives us the opportunity to bring some of Montana’s most interesting untold stories to light and share them across the state and beyond,” said Scott Sterling, director of production at Montana PBS. “I am honored that the hard work and dedication of our Montana PBS production team is recognized with these prestigious awards.”

The filmmakers call Montana freestyle skiers the mavericks of the sport, with multiple freestyle skiers from throughout the state getting their start on homemade jumps before going on to impressive careers. Freestyle skiing is a sport comprising aerials, moguls, half-pipe, slopestyle and more, with skiers often performing aerial flips and spins.

“Mavericks” follows the careers of several Montana freestyle skiers, including Olympic gold medal winner Eric Bergoust of Missoula, Bryon and Bradley Wilson of Butte, Darian Stevens of Missoula, Heather McPhie of Bozeman and Maggie Voisin of Whitefish. Using archival footage and original cinematography, the film captures “the struggles, victories, unsurpassed work ethic and unbreakable spirit of some of the state’s most renowned athletes in a sport where mere seconds determine the outcome of a career,” according to Kelly Gorham, producer and writer. Sterling is the film’s producer, director and editor, and Aaron Pruitt, Montana PBS director and general manager, is the executive producer.

Gorham, who also serves as director of visual media in MSU’s University Communications, said he was proud of both awards.

“I was honored to have ‘Mavericks’ included in such a wonderful festival and deeply humbled by the best documentary feature award considering the breadth of talent on display at the festival,” he said.

Of the NPPA award, Gorham said, “I had to re-read the Best of Photojournalism awards list a couple of times because I couldn’t believe that I was seeing our film among that list of international talent.”

In the NPPA best documentary feature award category, NBC Universal won for its project “Ukraine: The Search for Justice,” while E.W. Scripps received third place and The Washington Post received honorable mention.

The NPPA’s annual Best of Photojournalism competition recognizes the work of visual storytellers around the world. The competition is supported through a partnership with the University of Georgia’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication and presented by Sony as its primary sponsor. More information is available at bop.nppa.org/2023/.

The Flathead Lake International Cinemafest presents a broad slate of domestic and international films. The event is held annually, and this was its 11th year. More information is available at flicpolson.com/.

Last year, “Mavericks” also won the Non-Commercial Television Program of the Year award from the Montana Broadcasters Association. More information about the film is available at montanapbs.org/programs/mavericks/.