Arts and Culture

The Flyover Film Festival is back this year, in person for the first time since before the pandemic, running Thursday through Sunday at the Speed Cinema in Louisville.

Organized by the Louisville Film Society, a nonprofit that supports local filmmaking, the festival will feature narrative movies, documentaries and short films. 

Stu Pollard, chairman of the Louisville Film Society, said this year’s event is “coming back smaller.” 

“We’re jam packed over the course of the weekend,” he told WFPL News. “But we wanted to do something that was very compact and full of things to do so we didn’t get overextended in our first year back from the pandemic.”

The first Flyover Film Festival was in 2009. 

Pollard said the film society wanted to organize something that “pulled the film community together in Louisville.”

“One of my incentives for joining was that we never had a film festival here that really stuck around,” he said. “It didn’t have to be the biggest or the best or anything like that, though there’s certainly been times where we’ve been very aspirational about it.”

The hope was to elevate the work of local filmmakers, but also to promote Louisville to filmmakers outside of Kentucky as a viable place where they can make movies. 

This year’s Flyover Film Festival kicks off with a “sneak peek of a secret work in progress film,” Pollard said.  

Louisville writer and producer Morgan Atkinson will screen his documentary “Statues: This is What We Stand For?” It follows the years-long debate around a statue of John B. Castleman, who served in the Confederate Army. Castleman later served in the U.S. Army and helped established Louisville’s park system. The city took the statue down in June 2020, and there’s an ongoing legal battle over its removal

Atkinson said it’s an honor to be a part of the festival this year.

“I’m glad to show this particular film, because I hope that it asks questions that people in the community find interesting, compelling, maybe, in some ways provocative, and so it’s great to be part of it,” he said.

Other films featured during the event include the documentary “Billion Dollar Babies: The True Story of the Cabbage Patch Kids,” which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival, the feature film “What We Do Next,” the drama “The Unknown Country,” a rowing documentary called “Gurgle: Pulling Water” featuring Tori Murden McClure, and a program of shorts

The festival also features after-parties and discussions with filmmakers – Atkinson will be on a documentary film panel.

The panels are a key aspect of the festival, according to Pollard: “I just feel like it’s so important, especially for the people who are contemplating getting into storytelling, to be able to have access to the people that are actually here doing the work.”

For Atkinson, being in conversation with other filmmakers “can be stimulating, it can be affirming.”

Pollard is optimistic about the festival’s potential down the road in light of the Kentucky state legislature re-invigorating its film tax credit program, which has been a controversial topic in Kentucky. 

The boosted, and once-again refundable film incentive went into effect Jan. 1. In December, state officials approved new guidelines, which tightened the guardrails on qualifications and timelines.

“Hopefully we’re on the verge of having a thriving film community here,” Pollard said.

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts & Culture Reporter.