Who took home the Flyway Axes this year?

Who took home the Flyway Axes this year?

Queen-Ellen

David Culver’s sculpture “Queen Ellen” at the A\Word Gallery in Hyattsville, MD

At the very first Flyway Film Festival in 2008, actor/director Bill Elverman appeared in two short horror films and was killed by an ax murderer in both of them. Elverman won the Minnesota/Wisconsin Showcase for one of those shorts, The Wintress. The award he took home was a small, etched glass rectangle – the kind of award that might be given for 25 years of corporate service.

It happened that there was a sculptor in the audience: David Culver of Bay City, Wisconsin. When he saw the underwhelming token given to the 2008 awardees, he sidled up to Flyway director Rick Vaicius and said, “You know, I could make something a little more impressive than that.”

It was a short trip from there to the ax. Culver, who worked as a lumberjack, sawyer and stonemason before becoming nationally recognized for his sculpture and painting, thought the ax would evoke both the rural environs of the Flyway and the unfortunate fate of Elverman’s characters. And so it became tradition.

Of the many talented and deserving filmmakers who screened their work at the Flyway this year, these awardees took home the weighty sculptures:

Matt Gamble and Andrew James announce the first Flyway Keystroke Award winner, Bradley King

Matt Gamble and Andrew James announce the first Flyway Keystroke Award winner, Bradley King

Best Documentary: E-TEAM by Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman (now screening on Netflix).

Best Narrative: TWO STEP by Alex R. Johnson.

Best Shorts: HIS NEW HANDS by Suds Saria and JANE, THEN GONE by Jamie Carroll.

Minnesota/Wisconsin Showcase: BEYOND THE DIVIDE by Jan Selby.

The Keystroke Award, a newly established award given by regional film bloggers, went to Bradley King for TIME LAPSE.

Jan Selby receives the MN / WI Showcase Award for "Beyond the Divide"

Jan Selby receives the MN / WI Showcase Award for “Beyond the Divide”

Breakout Filmmaker: Josephine Decker, whose films BUTTER ON THE LATCH and THOU WAS MILD AND LOVELY both screened at Flyway this year.

The Flyway Spirit Award went to Seed&Spark for its inspiration and support of independent filmmakers.

Champions of Flyway Awards went to Derick and Julianne Dahlen of Villa Bellezza, Linda and David Brassfield of Lake Pepin Real Estate, and John and Val Becker of Red Wing Framing & Fine Art Printing. These people have supported and championed the Flyway throughout the region for years. In addition, the Flyway Spirit Award was renamed the “Linda and David Brassfield Flyway Spirit Award.”

Congratulations to all!

 

New York Times bestselling author Theresa Weir to judge Wisconsin/Minnesota Showcase films at Flyway

WeirFrasierpubshot2012(1)New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Theresa Weir will join the panel of jurors selecting the award-winning films at the 2014 Flyway Film Festival, which runs October 23-26 in Pepin and Stockholm, Wisconsin.

Weir, a long-time independent film aficionado, lives in northern Wisconsin. She is the author of twenty-five books and numerous short stories that have spanned the genres of suspense, mystery, thriller, romantic suspense, paranormal, fantasy, and memoir.  During her award-winning career, she’s written for Penguin Putnam, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishers, Bantam Books/Random House, and many more. Her titles have been translated into twenty languages.

Her first memoir, The Orchard, was a 2011 Oprah Magazine Fall Pick, Number Two on the Indie Next list, a featured B+ review in Entertainment Weekly, and a Librarians’ Best Books of 2011. Her second memoir (The Man Who Left, 2012), hit the New York Times bestseller list.

Flyway Executive Director Rick Vaicius will announce the film award winners at the Kickoff Gala on Thursday, October 23. Award categories include Narrative and Documentary short and feature; Wisconsin/Minnesota Showcase; the “Flyway Spirit” award; and special jury awards.

Along with Weir, the award jurors are Crystal Hegge, director of the Frozen River Film Festival; film critic and curator Matt Gamble; cinephile writers Kathie Smith and Peter Schilling of the Trylon Microcinema and the film website Joyless Creatures; writer/director Kim Garland; and film and theater artist David W. Potter.

Nationally-acclaimed Wisconsin sculptor David Culver created the award sculptures: stone axe heads that present an annual challenge to the winning filmmakers on how to get their awards through airport security.

2013 Flyway Axe winners Fred Thornton and Jeremy Wilker taste the victory

2013 Flyway Axe winners Fred Thornton and Jeremy Wilker taste the victory

Producer/Entrepreneur Nick Gonda to Speak at Flyway Kickoff Gala

tugg logoNicolas Gonda, who was recently named one of Variety’s “10 Producers to Watch,” Details Magazine’s “Digital Mavericks,” and Indiewire’s “Influencers,” will provide the keynote address at the Flyway’s Kickoff Gala on Thursday, October 23rd. Gonda co-founded Tugg, Inc., a rapidly-expanding web platform that enables audiences to choose the films that play in their local theaters.Nicholas Gonda, Shot by Daniel Bergeron

Gonda began his film career at Focus Features in New York City, working on the publicity, marketing, and worldwide distribution of a number of Academy Award® winning films such as THE PIANIST and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. In 2005, he joined the production of Terrence Malick’s THE NEW WORLD, and he went on to work with Malick as co-producer of THE TREE OF LIFE, Oscar™ nominee for Best Picture and winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and producer of TO THE WONDER.

“Nick Gonda represents what the Flyway is all about: getting good films by independent filmmakers to audiences everywhere,” says Flyway Executive Director Rick Vaicius. “Our local audience will be excited to learn about Tugg as a way to bring more movies to this area, since we’re in a bit of a film desert in Western Wisconsin. Except for the new Flyway Minema, of course,” he adds. The Minema is a 40-seat microcinema in Pepin, recently started by Vaicius and his wife Diana.

Gonda continues to produce a number of projects with Malick, including A.J. Edwards’ directorial debut THE BETTER ANGELS, starring Diane Kruger, Jason Clarke and Brit Marling. THE BETTER ANGELS premiered at Sundance and will screen at the Flyway on Saturday, October 25th at 3:00 PM.

axeFollowing the keynote address, Vaicius will present the Festival “Axe” awards, designed by Wisconsin sculptor David Culver. Awardees will be announced in the categories of narrative, documentary, and Wisconsin/Minnesota films, as well as several special jury awards and the “Spirit of Flyway” award. The evening continues with music by the up-and-coming Minneapolis band Sun Gods to Gamma Rays. Called “restrained, powerful, potent and cool” by l’etoile Magazine, the band’s “trippy, ethereal sounds will make you want to get up and dance” (Minnesota Monthly).

Everyone is welcome at this event. Tickets are $35 here or at the door, with food and drinks included in the ticket price. Full Festival Pass holders are admitted free.

Flyway Announces 2014 Film Lineup!

Opening night film: The Great Invisible

Opening night film: The Great Invisible

PEPIN, WI, October 1, 2014— The Flyway Film Festival, one of MovieMaker Magazine’s “Twenty-five Coolest Film Festivals,” today announced its official program selections for the seventh edition of the festival. The Flyway’s annual celebration of artistic excellence brings together cinema enthusiasts, filmmakers and artists to discover the best in independent film in the beautiful Mississippi River towns of Pepin, Stockholm and Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, and Red Wing, Minnesota. The Flyway will highlight 45 feature-length and short films from as nearby as Menomonie to as far away as the Ukraine, along with special filmmaker awards, a keynote address, education programs and festivities.

Click here for the full film schedule!

The Flyway Film Festival takes place on the Wisconsin side of the river on Thursday, October 23 – Sunday, October 26, 2014. A shorter program will be presented in Red Wing, MN on Saturday, October 11, as part of the Red Wing Fall Festival of the Arts.

“I’m thrilled beyond words to share our excellent film lineup this year,” says Festival programmer Jim Brunzell III. “Our opening night film, Margaret Brown’s astounding documentary The Great Invisible, about the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico,is the best and most important documentary I’ve seen in 2014 and a film everyone will be talking about. Writer/director Alex Johnson’s suspenseful crime drama Two Step brings to mind classic neo-noirs such as Night Moves, The Long Goodbye and the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple. I haven’t stopped thinking about since I saw it at SXSW in March.

The Tribe, a Ukrainian feature set entirely in the world of the deaf, is another cinematic treat unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And we’ll have not one but two terrific features by up-and-coming director Josephine Decker, exemplifying the power of Flyway to support filmmakers with unique and singular visions.”

Over the past seven years, the Flyway Film Festival has grown from a tiny local effort in Pepin, Wisconsin to a nationally-recognized four-day event, spanning towns on both sides of the Mississippi and attracting film fans from across the country. Festival Director Rick Vaicius points out that the increasingly strong reputation of the Flyway allows him to program a wider variety of excellent films.

“A few years ago, sought-after films like The Tribe and Two Step wouldn’t have been available to us,” Vaicius says. “Now that we’re becoming known in the festival world, not only will national distributors work with us, but the best of Minnesota and Wisconsin filmmakers vie to screen their films at the Flyway.”

Starfish Throwers

Starfish Throwers

Some of the exceptional regional films slotted for the festival are Jesse Roesler’s The Starfish Throwers, which is winning dozens of festival awards for its moving portrayal of individual perseverance in the face of world hunger; Amy Elliott’s hilarious Wicker Kittens, about competitive jigsaw-puzzling at the St. Paul Winter Carnival; and Jan Selby’s Beyond the Divide, filmed in Missoula, Montana, where a huge graffiti peace symbol provides a touchpoint for a town still struggling with the repercussions of the Vietnam war.

The 2013 Flyway Film Festival attracted over 2,000 visitors to Pepin and Stockholm, Wisconsin, which host the primary film screening venues: the Villa Bellezza Winery in Pepin and the WideSpot Performing Arts Center in Stockholm. With the 2014 expansion of the Festival to Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, which will host the Festival seminars at the Maiden Rock Inn, and the special Flyway program at the Saint James Hotel in Red Wing, Minnesota, that number is expected to increase.

About the Flyway Film Festival

The 2014 Flyway Film Festival runs October 23-26 in Pepin, Stockholm, and Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, and October 11 in Red Wing, Minnesota. Over 40 national and international independent films will be shown in four venues, with many filmmakers and industry professionals in attendance to interact with audiences via Q&A and networking events.

Regular screening and full festival passes, which will include the Kickoff Gala & Awards Ceremony and access to the Festival, are available online now at www.flywayfilmfestival.org. Individual tickets are available online and during the Festival at the festival box offices.

The festival venues are approximately a 60-minute drive from Rochester, Minnesota or Eau Claire, Wisconsin and 85 minutes from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. For more information, please visit www.flywayfilmfestival.org or contact Rick Vaicius at (855) 800-8008 /rick@flywayfilmfestival.org / Facebook: Flyway Film Festival / Twitter: @flywayfilmfest.

Get into the Flyway spirit at the Festival Kickoff Gala!

Get into the Flyway spirit at the Festival Kickoff Gala!

The 2014 Flyway Film Festival opens on Thursday, October 23rd with the annual Kickoff Gala at the Villa Bellezza Winery in Pepin. Featuring food, libations, music, a keynote address, and the Festival awards ceremony, the Gala is a must-attend event for independent film aficionados and industry professionals alike. Join the Lake Pepin “glitterati” as we roll out the red carpet for our film friends from across the globe!

Villa wineThe evening begins at 6:00 with an array of drinks and hors d’oeuvres catered by local restaurateurs. At 8:00 award-winning producer Nicolas Gonda, one of Variety’s “10 Producers to Watch,” will give the keynote address. Gonda is co-founder of the rapidly-expanding company Tugg, Inc., a web platform that enables audiences to choose the films that play in their local theaters.

Fred Thornton and Jeremy Wilker

Producer Frederick Thornton and cinematographer Jeremy Wilker enjoy their 2013 Flyway Axe awards

Following the keynote, Flyway director Rick Vaicius will present the Festival “Axe” awards, designed by Wisconsin sculptor David Culver. The evening continues with music by the up-and-coming Minneapolis band Sun Gods to Gamma Rays. Called “restrained, powerful, potent and cool” by l’etoile Magazine, the band’s “trippy, ethereal sounds will make you want to get up and dance” (Minnesota Monthly).

Sun Gods to Gamma Rays

Sun Gods to Gamma Rays

Full Festival Pass holders, Kickoff Gala ticket holders, and specially-invited Festival guests and sponsors are welcome at this event. Tickets are $35 here or at the door.

Registered Gala guests are asked to check in at the Box Office at the Villa Bellezza Winery upon arrival.