Keep your eye on that little blue heron -- she's headed for the Flyway!

July 20, 2018-- The 2018 poster design for the Flyway Film Festival features an illustration of one of the many birds that commute along the Mississippi River “flyway” – the migratory path that gave the festival its name.

The film festival, now in its eleventh year, will take place along the shores of Lake Pepin from October 19-21, in the towns of Stockholm, Pepin, and Alma, Wisconsin.

Illustrator Carey DeRam, who hails from Bayfield, Wisconsin, created her illustration of the Little Blue Heron to acknowledge the 100-year anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), signed in July 1918 -- one of the oldest wildlife protection laws on the books. The National Audubon Society, National Geographic, BirdLife International, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have declared 2018 to be “The Year of the Bird.”

“We decided to highlight the actual ‘flyway’ this year, to emphasize the importance of the MBTA in saving millions of bird lives over the past 100 years,” said DeRam.

Every spring and fall, migratory birds make their way along the Mississippi River, over the towns along the Great River Road where the Flyway Film Festival takes place. Visitors who come for the films are treated to the sight of eagles, herons, pelicans, and the flocks of songbirds passing through on their way south.

DeRam, a self-proclaimed “bird nerd,” researched the Mississippi River flyway before alighting on the Little Blue Heron for her illustration.

“It's a very interesting bird that starts out all white, like an egret, so that it can sneakily feed with other egrets while it's young,” she explained. “It changes colors, first with some dark grey feathers and then to all slate blue. When it's ready to mate, it gets purple plumage on its head and neck.”

Among those who don’t live near the Mississippi River flyway, the film festival’s name has occasionally caused confusion.

“People sometimes misunderstand the name as the ‘fly away’ film festival, or jump to the conclusion that it’s ‘flyover’,” said festival executive director Lu Lippold, referring to the film industry’s condescending habit of calling everything between New York and Los Angeles “flyover country.”

“With our new illustration, we’re hoping to educate people about the actual migratory flyway, as well as to draw attention to the Flyway Film Festival on the wings of this beautiful bird,” she said.

The Flyway Film Festival will begin announcing the films for its October lineup the week of July 23rd.

Flyway Film Festival regroups with new leadership in eleventh year

April 4, 2018-- The Flyway Film Festival has announced that the festival organization will restructure during 2018, with plans to host a two day event on October 19th- 21st 2018 in Stockholm, Pepin and Alma, Wisconsin.

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 popular 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,” said Collins-Svoboda. “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 eleventh 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 of Alma, Pepin, Stockholm and Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, and Red Wing, Minnesota. A group of around fifty 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," said Collins-Svoboda. "We’re proud to continue bringing the best in independent film to this part of the world.”