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"Night of the Grizzlies" documentary debuts on MontanaPBS May 17

May 6, 2010

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"Glacier Park's Night of the Grizzlies," a film documenting the harrowing events that took place in the park Aug. 12, 1967, will premiere at 8 p.m. Monday, May 17, on MontanaPBS(KUSM-TV in Bozeman and KUFM-TV in Missoula).

The film, co-produced by Gus Chambers and Paul Zalis, examines the summer night when two grizzly bears attacked campers in separate, remote areas of Glacier National Park, killing Julie Helgeson and Michele Koons. The incidents were the park's first reported fatal bear attacks since it opened in 1910 and marked a watershed moment in the nation's bear management policies.

The documentary features interviews with survivors Roy Ducat and Paul Dunn, as well as archival material, photographs, still-camera re-enactments and additional interviews, to provide a 360-degree account of that summer's events in Glacier, framed by the overriding theme of the grizzly bear and its survival in the 21st century.

"The events of that night are at the dramatic center of the film," Zalis said. "We were challenged not to just tell the human stories ― a near-mythic tale of a terrifying night ― but just as importantly, to tell a bear story that furthers understanding of the species and hope for its continued survival."

Three-time regional Emmy winner Chambers directed "Glacier Park's Night of the Grizzlies," and Zalis wrote the script. Veteran actor and Missoula native J.K. Simmons narrates the film. The Greater Montana Foundation, Montana Cultural Trust, Friends of MontanaPBS and The University of Montana provided funding for the documentary.

MontanaPBS is a public service of Montana State University in Bozeman and the University of Montana in Missoula. Visit www.montanapbs.org.

Contact: Aaron Pruitt, aaron_pruitt@montanapbs.org, 406-994-5021