Feature film with scenes from UMW premieres at Big Sky Cinema Friday

Wednesday, September 14, 2022
Big screen

Thandiwe Newton, pictured above in a still from the movie “God’s Country,” stars in the movie that will premiere in Dillon on Friday at the Big Sky Cinema. Photo provided by godscountryfilm.com

With scenes filmed at the University of Montana Western, “God’s Country” will be released later this month across 500+ theaters nationwide. It premiere’s Friday at Big Sky Cinema.

According to Stan Smith of Big Sky Cinema, the movie shows local actors and background players as well familiar local scenes throughout the film.

Set in western Montana, this film tells the story of a grieving college professor who confronts two trespassing hunters on her property. From there, an escalating battle of wills transpires with catastrophic consequences.

The feature-length film is directed by Julian Higgins. Based in Los Angeles, Higgins has gained success from his short films. Many of these films have been screened around the globe and recognized for prizes such as the gold medal Student Academy Award, two Student Emmy Awards and the grand prize for Canon and Ron Howard’s Project Imaginat10n contest.

The script for the film was adapted from the short story, Winter Light, by James Lee Burke. Burke is The New York Times bestselling author of the Dave Robicheaux detective series and various other novels.

English actress Thandiwe Newton headlines the film. Newton is well known for starring in HBO’s science fiction western series Westworld, having earned a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

The film premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and was filmed predominately in Montana. The Sundance organization is a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen and provides and preserves space for artists in film and digital media to create and thrive, according to the Institute’s website. Production of  the film began in spring 2020, but was paused due to the pandemic for several months. Cold Iron Pictures filmed numerous scenes in the Livingston area before coming to Dillon in late March 2021. During this time, several scenes were shot on the UMW campus and inside historic Main Hall.

The film is classified as a mystery and thriller drama and carries an R rating. The run time is one hour and 43 minutes.

Rotten Tomatoes, an online reviewer of move and television shows, gives “God’s Country” a Tomatometer score of 88. The score is based on the opinions of hundreds of film and television critics according to the site. When a film gets a score over 60, it achieves “fresh status” and under 60 gets a green splat for “Rotten status.”

The” Certified Fresh” status is achieved when a film receives consistent Tomatometer scores of 75 or higher.

Reviews are posted on the site. David Fear of Rolling Stone wrote, “It’s not perfect – the symbolism cup overfloweth here, and don’t get us started on the main character’s back story – but Newton’s performance and palpable f--- you patriarchy righteousness pack a serious punch.”

The Dillon Tribune and UMW contributed to this story.