Winter Light

Winter Light



Star-Studded Short Film “Winter Light” Is An Adaptation Of A James Lee Burke Story

Student Academy Award-winning director Julian Higgins – a graduate of the Ray, Richmond, and Hanover High schools – will screen his latest and most ambitious short film, Winter Light, at the Nugget Theater on July 25 & 26 at 11:30 am. Higgins will be in town to introduce and discuss the film at both showings.

Based on a story by New York Times-bestselling author James Lee Burke, Winter Light is a modern-day revisionist Western set in the frozen wilderness of Montana. The half-hour short tells the story of Roger Guidry, an aging college professor who unwittingly starts an escalating battle of wills when he confronts two hunters trespassing on his property. As tension mounts, hunter and hunted become harder to distinguish, and Roger must choose what sort of man he will ultimately be.

The film’s all-star cast is led by stage and screen veteran Raymond J. Barry, best known for roles in Dead Man Walking, Training Day, and the television drama series Justified. Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men’s Pete Campbell) and Josh Pence (Tyler Winklevoss in The Social Network) play the hunters, and Q’orianka Kilcher – who made her big-screen debut as Pocahontas in Terrence Malick’s The New World – rounds out the cast, playing one of the professor’s students.


Winter Light also marks the first exclusively producorial effort of celebrated actress Abigail Spencer. Known for her roles on Mad Men, Suits, and in numerous films including Cowboys & Aliens and Oz the Great and Powerful, Spencer can currently be seen in HBO’s True Detective and in her starring role as Amantha on the Sundance Channel’s Rectify (for which she was nominated for a Critic’s Choice Award). Winter Light is produced by Spencer’s company Innerlight Films, executive producer Mark W. Koch’s Prelude Pictures, and co-executive producers Julie and Chad Smith.

Spencer, Higgins, Pence, and producer Justin Allen previously collaborated on the 2013 short film Here and Now, which was selected by Ron Howard as the winner of Canon’s “Project Imagination” Film Contest. Winning that competition inspired the group to re-team for Winter Light, a much more ambitious film that Spencer calls “a short feature.”

Higgins and Pence traveled to Montana to meet with James Lee Burke, whose bestselling novels have won him worldwide acclaim, two Edgar Awards for Best Crime Novel of the Year, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination. Mr. Burke gave the project his blessing, and screenwriter Wei-Ning Yu adapted the story for the big screen. The film was shot entirely on location in the Missoula area, where the story is set, in the winter of 2014.

Winter Light played at the Atlanta Film Festival and Palm Springs International Shortfest, won top honors at the Cine Gear Expo at Paramount Studios, and is currently booking more festivals across the country. An Oscar-qualifying theatrical run is planned for September in Los Angeles.

This is the third time Higgins has brought his films to the Nugget to screen in his hometown. A Hanover native, Higgins discovered his passion for acting, writing, and filmmaking as a student in the Dresden school district. He began making movies in seventh grade, and directed a feature length film, Mending Wall, as an independent study at HHS. He went on to earn film degrees from Emerson College and the American Film Institute, and his AFI thesis film, Thief, won the 2011 Student Academy Award gold medal. Higgins made his television directing debut at the age of 26, with one of the final episodes of the long-running drama series House.

Tickets for WINTER LIGHT are available at the Nugget Theaters box office or by visiting