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:
Best Narrative: TWO STEP by Alex R. Johnson.
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.
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
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.
Nicolas 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.
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.
Following 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.