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Flyway Film Festival changes flight path

Big River Theatre in Alma, Wis., will be one of the three main venues for the 2018 Flyway Film Festival. Sarah Hansen / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 5
The WideSpot Performing Arts Center in Stockholm, Wis., will host films for the 2018 Flyway Film Festival. It is one of only three venues that will host films that weekend. Sarah Hansen / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 5
"Risking Light" director Dawn Mikkelson will conduct a Q&A after her film is screened at the Sheldon Theatre on May 20, 2018. Submitted photo3 / 5
The Flyway Film Society hosted a wine and cheese fundraiser at the Flyway Minema in Pepin, Wis., on April 15, 2018. Sarah Hansen / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 5
The Flyway Minema in Pepin, Wis., is the home of the Flyway Film Festival. Photo courtesy Lu Lippold5 / 5

Flyway Film Festival, which brings life-affirming independent movies to small screens across the breadth of Lake Pepin, is undergoing a change.

Direction of the festival is moving from sole direction under Rick Vaicius, who recently moved to St. Paul, and becoming a 501c3 organization as the Flyway Film Society.

Interim Executive Director Lu Lippold looks forward to the stability and collaborative energy that operating as a non-profit will offer. Down the road, Lippold and the board are hoping to engage many community voices to help plan and shape the festival. However, in 2018, the name of the game is getting things done.

To that end, Flyway Film Festival will take place across just three Wisconsin cities this fall. Alma, Stockholm and Pepin (the home base) will host 12 features and one to two short programs during festival weekend Oct. 19, 20 and 21, 2018.

"We have an incredible team of smart and dedicated volunteers who are going to keep this thing going," Lippold said. "The whole Flyway event has become really fun and important for the community and we want to draw in more community members."

To that end, Flyway is also working with students at Pepin High School on a youth-only filmmaker contest, helping young voices gain confidence with film and visual storytelling.

Long term, Flyway is dedicated to engaging communities across the river, as well. While the main festival will take place just in Wisconsin this fall, a one-off screening of "Risking Light" has been planned for May 20 at the Sheldon Theatre.

"It's really just a matter of logistics and money this year," Lippold added. "We love working with Red Wing and screening in Red Wing. It's such a great community and such enthusiastic film goers — as soon as we can renew that connection we want to."

"Risking Light," a film by Dawn Mikkelson out of Hager City, tracks three stories across the globe which focus on forgiveness. This screening is presented by Flyway Film Festival and sponsored by Red Wing Framing and Fine Art Printing, filmmaker Q&A session to follow.

"I'm thrilled to be able to bring 'Risking Light' back to Red Wing, where so much of my editing took place," Mikkelson said. "I'm also thrilled to partner with the Flyway Film Society, as it was the Flyway that drew me to this area originally. The community's passion for and support of film is one of the reasons I now live here."

The full Flyway Film Festival lineup has yet to be released. Volunteers are scouting films at national and regional festivals and will be announcing the full lineup this summer. Fans can follow Flyway online for updates: https://www.facebook.com/flywayfilmfestival/.

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