The Flyover Film Festival Keeps An Eye On Kentucky

Jul 19, 2023 at 12:44 pm
"Glitter+Doom" will be showing at the Flyover Film Festival
"Glitter+Doom" will be showing at the Flyover Film Festival Movie still courtesy of Speed Cinema.

The Flyover Film Festival is back for its 13th run. Louisville Film Society is bringing its annual showcase of new films, most with Kentucky connections, to the Speed Cinema July 27-30th. It will be a weekend of film debuts and post screening interviews with filmmakers, featuring documentaries, feature films, shorts programs, a panel discussion with the filmmakers, and after-parties for those looking to network and celebrate. 

The Festival’s headliner is a beautiful tone poem documentary, “King Coal.” West Virginia native and coal miner’s daughter Elaine McMillion Sheldon trained her camera on the beauty and degradation of her home state. Her eye and ear are tuned to the intertwining of coal and culture in Appalachia, and the sound design and photography in “King Coal” successfully conveys the beauty of everyday rituals, as well as a haunted melancholy in the face of change. This is a nature film that also uses dance, movement, and music to convey the interconnectedness of humans and the environment, and Sheldon has a great sense of how to frame people in their natural, lived spaces. 

“King Coal” isn’t the only doc at Flyover this year, but it’s the most artful. Saturday’s festivities get started with “Louder Than You Think,” a documentary about Pavement drummer Gary Young. This film is both a look back at the heyday of indie rock, and an examination of self-destruction, with insights from Young himself. Writer/editor Greg King, originally from Louisville, and former member of The Rachels, will stick around for a post-discussion screening. 

Still from film provided by Speed Cinema
Still from film provided by Speed Cinema

On Sunday, viewers can deep dive into the life of playwright Paul Green (“The Playmaker”), hear the stories behind the Pulitzer-Prize winning photographs at the Courier Journal (“Fleeting Reality”), and learn more about the challenges facing women and girls in Afghanistan since Kabul fell to the Taliban in 2021 (“Bread and Roses”). These docs, coupled with a shorts program focused on local environmental stories, are challenging films that strive to deepen the viewer’s understanding of nuanced issues. In the case of “The Playmaker,” filmmaker and Danville, KY native Hannah Bowman set out to tell the story of the man who wrote “The Stephen Foster Story” and discovered a rich, and wide-ranging career from a man who imagined an end of the Old South. “The Playmaker” is for the American theater history buff, and those interested in the intersection of art and racial justice in this country. In his fight to end segregation, Paul Green was years ahead of his peers. But in that fight he came to be on the wrong side of Richard Wright, and forever tied to “My Old Kentucky Home,” a song that is both beloved and demonized for its depiction of the Old South. This part of his history is an interesting vane to mine that is only touched upon here. 

A loving presentation of Louisville’s history, “Fleeting Reality” is a celebration of the legendary, prize-winning photography of the Courier Journal. Director Richard Van Kleeck will be on hand to talk about this history and the Barry Bingham, Jr. Courier Journal Photographic Collection, which is housed at the University of Louisville Archives & Special Collections. 

Flyover is long on documentaries, but it does feature one fantastical, neon musical, “Glitter + Doom.” A love at first sight story told through Indigo Girls songs remixed to fit into a pop club setting, this queer scenester film features delightful cameos from Leo DeLaria, Missi Pyle, Ming-Na Wen, the B-52s’ Kate Pierson, and the Indigo Girls themselves. Filmed in Mexico City, the colors and sets are luscious and fun, and the frenetic energy keeps everything moving right along, though I could never shake the sensation of having shown up ten minutes late right off the bat. Enjoying this film is going to depend upon your love of club music, choreography, and costumes, but if listening to the Indigo Girls in a post-Hedwig world intrigues you, then director Tom Gustafson made a movie for you. 

In this columnist’s opinion, what makes film festivals worth the price of admission isn’t the parties, or the Q&As. It’s the Shorts programs! The Saturday Shorts Program features a Cannes Film Festival entry (the multi-level marketing slapstick “Poof”), a family made doc about a scrapbook (“The Realization of Childhood Dreams”), a silent film set on VJ Day in 1945 (“Danny Boy”), a doc about an abduction in Indiana (“Missing in the Midwest”), a reflection on the space race (“Flying Blind”), and a retro comedy featuring ghost-hunting teens (“Ghost-O-Matic”}. That is a wide range of feelings and talents, which is what makes a good shorts program. 

Screening times and party info at www.flyoverfilmfestival.org

13th Annual Flyover Film Festival

July 27-30

Speed Cinema 

Per screening - $8 for LFS & Speed members / $12 for non-members 

www.flyoverfilmfestival.org