Rick Vaicius, Flyway Founder
“Rick Vaicius’ passion for film came when he was a college student at the University of Minnesota. He would stuff envelopes for the owner of the Rivertown Theatre, David Lee, in exchange for free admission to the independent films that were screened the theatre. He founded the film program for the Lake Pepin Art and Design Center, which screened independent films at the gallery twice a month, and later spawned the creation of the Flyway Film Festival.” – Chris Nelson
As the Operations Manager of the Flyway Film Festival, there isn’t a lot that Diana Vaicius hasn’t had some kind of hand in since the fateful day in 2008 her husband decided to start a film festival.
A top-notch researcher, project manager, and inveterate addict of movies of all kinds, she is involved in Flyway short film programming, as well as oversight of the hospitality, volunteer training, venue management, ticketing/box office, community outreach, and Flyway special events areas each year.
In her spare time, she is a Diversity & Inclusion consultant, wrangles two precocious children and too many pets, and sometimes gets the irresistible urge to act (starring in her first independent film in 2013), sing (former 90s art rock vocalist), and write (currently in research for her first screenplay).
After earning her BFA and MFA in Painting/Neon/Art and Technology and Film, Allison took her artistic skills into the world of floristry. She has owned her own flower and events businesses, one of which takes her regularly to the gardens of Versailles, France.
Frequent trips to the Telluride Film Festival made her wish that there could be a film festival right here in her adopted hometown of Pepin. Her wish came true when Rick and Diana Vaicius, her neighbors over on County Road CC, had the good idea to start one. Allison has been instrumental in fundraising, organizing, popping the popcorn, and selecting the films for the Flyway since its inception. Thanks to Allison, Flyway undoubtedly has the most gorgeous floral arrangements of any film festival in the world.
Jim Brunzell III is a film journalist, film festival director/programmer and sports nerd hailing from St. Paul, Minnesota. He has been reporting and writing on film for the online daily publication Twin Cities Daily Planet since 2007 and has a weekly column entitled “The Optimistic Pessimist,” where he has covered the Sundance, Toronto, Seattle, Tribeca, and Chicago International film festivals. Jim worked at The Film Society of Minneapolis/St. Paul and the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival before leaving to work with Sound Unseen Music/Film/Art festival as lead programmer. In 2012, he took over as Sound Unseen festival director for its 13th annual festival and also became the narrative programmer for the Flyway Film Festival.
Jim created a local monthly film series, “The Defenders,” at the Trylon Microcinema in Minneapolis, where local personalities choose a secret film without revealing the title before the screening and then defend their choice to the audience following the screening. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JimBrunzell_3.