The Babcock Theatre
2810 2nd Ave N, Billings, MT

What’s at stake when communities lose their local source of information and news? Find out by joining Montana Free Press on October 6 at the historic Babcock Theatre to watch the story of Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Art Cullen and his family as they fight to unite and inform their rural Iowan farming community through their biweekly newspaper, The Storm Lake Times.

In partnership with the Montana International Film Festival, MTFP presents a screening of the Peabody- and Emmy-nominated documentary film, Storm Lake, followed by an onstage panel discussion with special guest appearances by Art Cullen himself and the film’s directors, Beth Levison and Jerry Risius, in conversation with MTFP’s founder, John Adams.

Doors at 6:00
Film begins at 6:30
Panel discussion to follow

$12 – General Admission
$6 – Students, veterans, and seniors


Special Guests

Art Cullen

Art Cullen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, editor of The Storm Lake Times (a family-run weekly newspaper in small-town Iowa), and author of the new book, Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper. Art has made it his life’s work to ask the big questions, speak truth to power, and share the struggles and successes of his unique community of Storm Lake, Iowa (Census pop. 10,076). 

Beth Levison

Director & Producer | Beth Levison is an Emmy- and Peabody-winning producer/director based in NYC. Her most recent producing efforts include Women in Blue (Tribeca  Film Festival 2020/Independent Lens) and Emmy-nominated Made in Boise (AFI DOCS 2019/Independent Lens). Previous producing credits include 32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide (HBO 2017), Emmy-nominated Personal Statement (PBS 2018), and her independent directorial/producing debut, Lemon (PBS 2011). Beth is the founder of Hazel Pictures, a co-founder of the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA), producing faculty with the School of Visual Arts (SVA), and a member of AMPAS.

Jerry Risius

Director & DP | With over 25 years experience as DP on such projects as The Kingmaker (Toronto Int’l Film Festival 2019), Generation Wealth (Sundance 2018), Seeing Allred (Sundance 2018/Netflix), Brave New Voices (HBO 2009), The Devil Came on Horseback (Sundance 2007), and more recently, as a Field Producer/DP on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Parts Unknown series, Brooklyn-based Jerry Risius grew up on a hog farm about an hour from Storm Lake and brings a depth of filmmaking experience along with a local perspective that very few can.

John Adams Headshot White Background

John S. Adams

Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Montana Free Press | John S. Adams is a veteran award-winning investigative and political reporter and the founder and editor-in-chief of Montana Free Press. John was formerly the Capital Bureau Chief of the Great Falls Tribune and a correspondent for USA TODAY. John is known as a dogged investigator whose unbiased reporting has changed the shape of Montana politics.

Storm Lake in the Press

“Jerry Risius and Beth Levison’s warm and biting profile of the editorial team that puts out The Storm Lake Times stirs up hope that small local newspapers, and journalism itself, can survive.”

The Boston Globe
– Peter Keough, October 7, 2021

Storm Lake reminds us that we cannot be complacent. We cannot take democracy for granted. And local reporting is a mainstay of an informed citizenry and therefore democracy.”

Des Moines Register
– Julie Gammack, June 8, 2021

“Beth Levison and Jerry Risius’s profound documentary is simultaneously a love letter to and a eulogy for local news—even more than that, it’s a sincere inquiry into the meaning of community and the role played by the dissemination of information in holding together further distabled societal connections. I laughed out loud at times and tearfully celebrated and mourned this endangered medium.”

Chicago Reader
– Kathleen Sachs, September 24, 2021

Storm Lake isn’t eventually a document of what could be lost, but rather as it currently stands, a galvanizing depiction of what is gained from having strong community coverage that happens to double as a lovely portrait of a charming family business.”

The Moveable Fest
– Stephen Saito, June 2, 2021

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Interested in sponsoring this event? Contact Claire Overholt at for more.