An award-winning documentary featuring duPont Manual science students and an independent action-comedy feature that’s looking for broad distribution are among the highlights of the 10th annual Flyover Film Festival, which kicks off Sunday, July 22.
In all, eight films, five of which were shot at least in part in Kentucky, will screen during festival, with most showings at Speed Cinema. (The three other selections also have local ties.)
This year’s lineup reflects Flyover’s commitment to showcasing Kentucky’s film industry, says Soozie Eastman, executive director of the Louisville Film Society, which organizes the event.
“Last year during a screening … I asked all the filmmakers in the audience to stand up, and it was so encouraging to see so many creative people, so many artists contributing to the film industry here,” says Eastman, who has been with LFS since 2015, when Flyover returned to its status as a stand-alone festival.
It briefly had been part of the now-suspended IdeaFestival, and before that had a more eclectic programming aesthetic. One Flyover saw a screening of the silent horror classic “The Unknown” (1927), directed by Louisville native Tod Browning of “Dracula” fame, accompanied by a live experimental score performance at Headliners Music Hall.
Now, Flyover focuses entirely on new films with direct ties to Louisville and Kentucky, Eastman says. This mission coincides with state financial incentives to attract film productions. These incentives have been something of a political hot potato of late, but Eastman says the LFS and other film industry advocates are not taking “a fire and brimstone” outlook and remain optimistic about future growth.
She added that the state legislature reviews incentive budgeting annually, and there are still a number of projects in the pipeline to bring work and national attention to the local film industry.
Buzz-worthy entries in this year’s festival include “Science Fair,” a National Geographic documentary that’s already won awards at the Sundance Film Festival. “Science Fair” kicks off film screenings on Sunday, July 22, at the Speed, with a Q&A to follow.
Dean Otto, curator of film for the Speed, told Insider he was shocked to see four students from Manual, located just a few blocks from the museum, when he first saw “Science Fair” at the Berlin Film Festival as it was being pitched for distribution.
“We should be so proud to have such amazing scholars representing Louisville,” Otto says.
Flyover closes with a Friday, July 27, screening of the action-drama-comedy “Better Start Running,” which piqued local interest when stars Jeremy Irons and Maria Bello were seen around town during filming. (The film is not actually set in Louisville — the trailer includes footage from the Second Street Bridge, as well as Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.)
The “major motion picture,” as Eastman describes it, had its world premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival but is still looking to build buzz as it rolls toward broader distribution.
“Better Start Running” was originally set to screen at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, but the recent fire there prompted a venue change to the Brown Theatre on Broadway. Eastman says LFS will bring in its giant screen to create a good viewing experience in the space, which is designed for musical productions.
Other films of note at Flyover include the world premiere of “In Our Bones,” a deeply personal project by first-time Louisville director Alex Kimura. The documentary follows the director and her sister Sam on a yearlong tour of all 50 states as they search for a bone marrow donor for Sam, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia in 2010.
Kimura tells Insider that after it was determined she could not be a donor for her sister, the pair spent a few years advocating for awareness about bone marrow donation before deciding to go on a “bucket list” trip together in 2015.
“We knew that if we were going to be on the road together, living together, for a year, something was gonna happen, so I decided to film it,” Kimura says. “It ended up being a lot more than we thought it was going to be.”
Kirmura, who will be at the screening of “In Our Bones” on Tuesday, July 24, says she hopes the film will encourage those who see it to “go on an adventure, take a risk, call somebody they haven’t wanted to call.”
The Flyover Film Festival officially kicks off Tuesday, July 17, with a party at 21c Museum Hotel from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tickets to film screenings are $9 for the general public, $7 or LFS members, and can be purchased at the LFS website.
The full schedule of films is below.
Sunday, July 22
“Science Fair,” 5 & 7 p.m., Speed Cinema
Monday, July 23
“The Gardener,” 6 & 8 p.m., Speed Cinema
Otto said the 6 p.m. screening of “The Gardener” already has sold out. The film focuses on Frank Cabot’s lush private gardens outside Montreal, which are next to impossible to get into, despite being open for public tours. Cabot’s daughter lives in Prospect and is involved locally in Yew Dell Gardens.
Tuesday, July 24
“In Our Bones,” 6 & 8 p.m., Speed Cinema
Wednesday, July 25
“Symphony for Nature” and “City of Ali,” 6 & 8 p.m., Speed Cinema
In “Symphony for Nature,” director Ann Flatté documents the world premiere of an orchestral work that combined classical musicians and drummers from the Klamath tribe, performing at Oregon’s Crater Lake. “Symphony for Nature” features conductor Teddy Abrams of the Louisville Orchestra and was produced by Owsley Brown.
Louisville-based Kertis Creative and Director of Photography Stephen Kertis worked on the production.
Eastman says she expects a warm local reception for “City of Ali,” a 38-minute documentary directed by Graham Shelby and effectively produced by the city to chronicle its preparation for Muhammad Ali’s 2016 funeral.
Thursday, July 26
“Ditch the Van” and “The Human Element,” 6 & 8 p.m., Speed Cinema
In the 10-minute short “Ditch the Van,” Kentucky filmmaker Mallory Cunningham chronicles the decision by local cellist Ben Sollee to tour the country on a cargo bike.
“The Human Element,” by director Matthew Testa, explores humans’ impact on the environment and includes interviews with former coal miners shot in Pikeville.
Friday, July 27
“Better Start Running,” 7 p.m., the Brown Theatre