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Flyway Film Festival regroups with new leadership in eleventh year

PEPIN — The Flyway Film Festival has announced that the festival organization will restructure during 2018, with plans to host a two-day event Oct. 19-20 in Stockholm, Pepin and Alma.

When the Flyway's founder and executive director, Rick Vaicius, made the decision to move to the Twin Cities last year, a group of Lake Pepin-area volunteers took the reins of the annual event. According to incoming Flyway board member Mary Anne Collins-Svoboda, the group is in the process of forming a new nonprofit organization.

"We're looking forward to putting on a smaller-scale event this year," Collins-Svoboda said. "It's been a challenge to regroup, and we've got a lot of planning and fundraising ahead of us. But we're well on the way to making the 11th annual Flyway a fantastic event."

Lu Lippold, a longtime Flyway volunteer, will serve as interim executive director. She has an extensive background in independent film and film festivals, having worked as a documentary filmmaker, festival event producer, writer, grant administrator and film professor.

The Flyway Film Festival began in 2007 as an expansion of the successful film series initiated by Rick Vaicius and Diana Masters. By 2014, the Flyway had achieved the status of being on MovieMaker Magazine's prestigious "25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World" list. The festival has attracted such independent film trailblazers as Ted Hope, Emily Best, Xan Aranda, Brian Newman, Jon Reiss and many more.

Despite its shoestring budget, the Flyway grew to encompass a well-attended community gala, an education program and a four-day festival in the Lake Pepin area towns. A group of around 50 local volunteers was instrumental in putting the festival together and making it an integral part of the community.

The new organization has incorporated under the name Flyway Film Society. The founding board members are Mary Anne Collins-Svoboda, Scott Wolf, Trevor Porath, Tracy Tabery-Weller, Allison House, Diana Masters and Irene Wolf.

Collins-Svoboda is pleased that this group of community members is banding together to continue the Flyway tradition.

"The Flyway Film Festival is extremely important to the Lake Pepin area," Collins-Svoboda said. "We're proud to continue bringing the best in independent film to this part of the world."