A film festival is a strange beast. It can be a community event showing local films, like a farmers’ market for movies. It can be a for-profit corporation, selling mainstream films to big audiences for big bucks.

Or it can be the Flyway.

This is the ninth year that the scrappy, ambitious film festival has brought an eclectic assortment of movies to the Mississippi River towns of Pepin, Stockholm, Alma, and Red Wing. The festival, which runs from October 19-23, has attracted national attention for its creative spirit and its willingness to invite emerging filmmakers to share their work.

But like any volunteer-run nonprofit organization, the Flyway has had its challenges. Life happens: people move away, jobs change, partnerships end. Schedules get postponed. Some feared that the Flyway would live no more.

And then – like the mythical Lake Pepin monster depicted in the 2016 Flyway logo – the festival reared its head and roared back to life.

“We took stock of what the Flyway really means to the community, and we realized that it was incredibly important,” said Mary Anne Collins-Svoboda, the new Flyway board chair. “It’s been very gratifying to talk to community members about strengthening the organization and hearing how much support we have.”

In addition to Collins-Svoboda, the new board consists of Jane Whiteside, vice chair; Anne Anderson, treasurer; and Lu Lippold, secretary. The advisory committee includes Judy Krohn, Susan Eldredge, David Potter, Jody Wurl, Kristin Debner, John Anderes, Dorothy Thompson, Irene Wolf, Allison Lisk, Bruce Johnson, and Linda Herman. Jim Brunzell, who has been a major force behind Flyway programming for several years, is again lending his expertise to the Flyway.

So what will be different this year?

“More happy hours, no formal workshops, more films, a new venue at the Villa Bellezza Winery, and screenings at the historic Sheldon Theatre in Red Wing,” said festival founder Rick Vaicius. “We’re streamlining some things, adding others. And our film lineup this year is pretty amazing.”

The film lineup, along with ticket and pass availability will be announced next week. The selections include stunningly beautiful narratives, disturbing documentaries, hilarious and moving short films, and, in a nod to the upcoming election, some untold political stories.

“There’s a special emphasis on lore and legend, including films about Minnesota and Wisconsin,” added Vaicius. “We’re featuring some our best regional filmmakers as well.”

See below for visual clues about a few of the films you’ll see at the Flyway. And stay tuned for the big reveal when the Flyway announces its lineup!

2016 Flyway logo by Jon Hunt

Swee Pea Girl Asleep American Fable