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Jonnie Jonckowski is a Montana legend. She grew up with a passion for horses, natural athleticism, and an unquenchable competitive drive. In her early twenties—just when her dream of becoming an Olympic pentathlete was within reach—she was permanently sidelined by a back injury. In search of a new challenge, she set her sights on an unlikely pursuit: professional bull riding.

A woman in a man’s world, Jonnie’s obsession with being the best defied expectations, challenged gender stereotypes, and earned her two world championships. It also resulted in numerous broken bones, life-threatening injuries, and a personal life peppered with financial hardship, heartbreak, and tragedy.

Approaching her 70th birthday, Jonnie no longer competes in a sport that requires cold-blooded focus and dangerous encounters with bucking bulls. Now her home in Billings is a refuge for rescued horses, where she brings senior citizens and at-risk youth for a dose of equine therapy. These interactions—in stark contrast to her former life—are gentle and emotional. They give isolated and neglected people a space to connect and heal.

The one-hour documentary Jonnie chronicles the life of a woman with extraordinary mental and physical toughness. Archival footage tells the story of Jonnie’s thrilling rise to the top of her profession. Her articulate, and at times humorous, accounts of moving through life as a born competitor provide the narrative backdrop. Expert interviews touch on the surprising history of women’s rodeo in the United States and offer fascinating technical analysis of Jonnie’s best performances.

Jonnie promises to be a dynamic and cinematic tribute to a uniquely Montana character. At once inspiring and enlightening, the film explores human resilience and our evolving relationship with animals and the natural world. Jonnie examines the human need to make an impact and find meaning in whatever we do.




Portrait of filmmaker Sabrina Lee

Sabrina Lee

Director & Producer Sabrina Lee has been telling stories for most of her life. Previously a modern dancer and choreographer, in 2005 she turned her artistic eye toward documentary filmmaking after spotting a hand-painted sign in a cow pasture that read “Hip-Hop Show Tonight.” She went on to create the award-winning documentary Where You From and later produced/co-directed Not Yet Begun to Fight, a New York Times pick for “What to Watch” when it premiered on PBS. In addition to working as a story consultant on numerous projects, Sabrina co-produced/wrote the Montana PBS documentary Ivan Doig: Landscapes of a Western Mind, distributed nationally through American Public Television.

Portrait of filmmaker Scott Sterling

Scott Sterling

Scott was born and raised in Aspen, Colorado, where exposure to the rugged outdoors, arts, and culture inspired a passion for visual art and storytelling. Sterling now serves as the director of production for Montana PBS in Bozeman, Montana. His work as producer, director, and editor includes the award-winning documentary features Mavericks, The Violin Alone, Fort Peck Dam, and Without Words, and the signature music performance series 11th & Grant with Eric Funk, now in its 14th season. Scott also works as a freelance colorist, with recent work airing on Nature on PBS, The Smithsonian Channel, National Geographic Channel, and The History Channel. Scott has earned twelve Emmy® Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences - Northwest Chapter, and revels in the juxtaposition of story, art, and technology that is contemporary filmmaking.

Portrait of filmmaker Erika Share

Erika Share

Erika brings a wealth of production experience to our team. She is a co-owner of Wild Vision Films, a Bozeman-based production company and is a newly appointed Senior Producer for Montana PBS. She serves in many capacities, from cinematographer to editor to producer, on films for Disney+, Magnolia Network, NBC Peacock, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and others. Prior to her freelance work, she served as senior producer and editor for “The Onion” in Chicago. for recent work

Portrait of filmmaker Aaron Pruitt

Aaron Pruitt

For 28 years, Aaron has provided leadership in programming, production, fundraising and management at Montana PBS. He served as Executive Producer for many award-winning productions including 11th & Grant with Eric Funk, Class C: The Only Game in Town, Fort Peck Dam, Finding Traction, Keeping the Barn and Charlie Russell’s Old West. Pruitt collaborates with independent filmmakers distributing programs to national public television, such as The Last Artifact (APT), Before There Were Parks: Yellowstone and Glacier Through Native Eyes (PBS NPS) and two PBS INDEPENDENT LENS documentaries, Butte America and Indian Relay.

Portrait of filmmaker Tony Hale

Tony Hale

Tony Hale is an Emmy-winning documentary editor based in Brooklyn, NY. His first feature documentary, A Will for the Woods, which he co-directed and edited, won multiple awards (including two at Full Frame) and aired nationally on PBS. Recently, Tony won the national Emmy for Outstanding Documentary Writing on The Story of Plastic (Discovery) and the Jackson Wild Media award for editing on YOUTH v GOV (Netflix). His other feature editing work includes: Charged (Hulu), Do the Math (Al-Jazeera America), Afghan Cycles, and The Lake at the Bottom of the World.

Tony's short film work includes pieces for The New York Times and The New Yorker, an Emmy-winning TV special, scripted shorts for directors Lulu Wang and Lucy Liu, multiple short documentaries, and dozens of videos for non-profits and national campaigns, including The Schomburg Center,, The Committee to Protect Journalists, and more. Beyond principal editing, Tony also creates impact materials for films, serves as a consulting editor, mentors filmmakers, and participates in panels. For more on Tony’s work, see

Portrait of Helen Kearns

Helen Kearns

Story Architect Helen Kearns is an Emmy®-award winning documentary film editor and writer. Most recently, Helen edited and co-wrote the feature doc Good Night Oppy, which follows the incredible journey of the twin Mars rovers Opportunity & Spirit. She also edited the fourth season of the hit Showtime series Couples Therapy, released in 2023. Her previous work as Editor includes the documentary features Assassins (2020), Ask Dr. Ruth (2019), Inventing Tomorrow (2018), The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble (2015), and Good Ol' Freda (2013). She also edited the Emmy-nominated series for Netflix, The Keepers (2017), and the Apple TV series Watch the Sound (2021). In 2020 she served as a consulting editor for the feature doc P.S. Burn This Letter Please, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival, and also consulted for Apple's first doc series, Visible: Out on Television. Helen is a founding member of The Alliance of Documentary Editors (ADE), a professional community that champions the role of editors and assistant editors in the documentary field, where she served on the Steering Committee from 2018-2020. She is currently editing a doc feature with director Ryan White that is slated for release in 2025.