And so, I bring my coverage of the fourth annual Flyover Film Festival  to a close. After 22-plus hours in theaters, 12 articles, and 16 film reviews, I cannot stop trying to find subtlety and depth in everything around me.
The four-day Festival came and went in a blur of squeaky seats, torn tickets and audience questions about the endings of movies. All things considered, I had a wonderful time. The program contained a lot of diversity on different themes and subjects, and I felt I came away with great recommendations and even some new favorites. I had a chance to speak with the festival director Ryan Daly after the last screening and asked about the variety, whether they had any thematic plan laid out or brought the best they could find. He said it's just "what speaks to you when you watch it." That there wasn't a whole big idea but rather "how the pieces came together to form a theme."
During the last film, Kid-Thing, a despairingly lovely movie  about a troubled young girl's disparate relationship to everything around her, I began to piece together a greater narrative for the Flyover Film Festival  as a whole. The runaway couple in Sun Don't Shine , William trekking through rural Kentucky in Pilgrim Song , the debased Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights , the ridiculing aloofness of the characters in The Comedy , the gypsy circus performers of The Unknown , destructive Annie in Kid-Thing  and even the three boys locked away from their ferry for the night in the New Orleans of Tchoupitoulas ; all of these characters have some manner of exhibition and study of cultural/societal outcasts. Thinking on the very name of the Flyover Film Festival, making light of being a flyover state, ignored between coasts, I could not help but think that the festival found an identity alongside these cinematic pariahs. I brought this up to Daly as we spoke, asking him about the possibility of this premise. He smiled, appreciating the correlation and said that they did feel like a counter point to the bigger festivals, feeling overlooked as a flyover state. Though, he said, they did not initially mean to create a greater narration, "the films work together well with the festival."
I agree with him completely. These films, whether I liked them or not had not only a greater contemporary feeling about them, but also an identifiable reflection of Louisville.
Luckily, I did enjoy most of them. Great moments abound in my memories of the last several days. If this were a juried affair and had awards to win, I would put my vote to The Comedy . Such a defiant balance between abrasive comedy and existential doubt, I waxed perhaps a little too enthusiastically philosophical in my review, but I maintain it was the best film I've seen so far this year. A difficulty remains in recommending it, however. I connected personally with the subtext and laughed, unruffled by the jokes, but I completely see how many will find it insulting, baffling, or just plain boring.
A close tie would exist for second between Kid-Thing and Sun Don't Shine. Both quietly destructive movies, I found Kate Lyn Sheil, who also appeared in The Comedy, brought a layered, incredible performance to the broken Crystal, beached on the decaying shores of a faded Florida in Sun Don't Shine. Equally, the sorrowful whimsy of Kid-Thing continues to echo down my soul much like the walkie-talkie crackle sinking into the dark hole in the woods.
Watching Seluah make Tod Browning's The Unknown even more unnerving and creepy was also a real highlight of the festival. The same goes for those inspiring high school filmmakers, Matthew Riviera and Evan Sennett who shot and screened their Buster Keaton homage, The Executive . And, I have to say once again, how I wish I could watch that purely delightful short, Into the Middle of Nowhere , everyday. I cannot quit saying "Smoke Bloke Island" in a bad Scottish accent.
The festival also contained interesting variations on the same intent. The most notable one came between Detropia and Tchoupitoulas. Though they had different messages, they both generally wanted to present specific cities. I did not enjoy Detropia , and have grown even more critical of it as the days pass. It tried to tell a big, overarching story without giving information, and felt overly manipulative in its reliance on unsourced facts and the commentary of everyday people. Whereas Tchoupitoulas let a small story mostly tell itself , simply following three boys through the night and trying to see the city through their perspective. In this way, we were able to fit the pieces together and understand the lovely city as an audience. The filmmakers of Detropia tried to appear uninvolved, but the charged scenes that they edited together stirred your emotions without telling you the why. I asked the Ross Brothers, after their screening of Tchoupitoulas, about their lack of anything having to deal with Hurricane Katrina. They quickly said they had no desire to tell a story using that, as it was a one-dimensional way to approach the city. I feel that Detropia used this one-dimensional method, showcasing the destruction and turmoil without ever honestly getting close to the story or the city as a whole.
Fortunately, negative reactions like Detropia were rare through the festival. As much as I tried, I could not find the reason to make the My Morning Jacket short One Big Holiday . It was a lovely postcard of Louisville, but I failed to find it anything more than self-congratulatory and couldn't see any other city showing it.
I suppose my biggest disappointment landed in Pilgrim Song . I did not necessarily dislike it, I merely had high expectations from the wide buzz circulating it; I don't have any numbers, but I believe it brought the Festival's biggest attendance. It saddened me to be unable to really click with the sprawling, clumsy portrayal of an unlikeable protagonist as he happened through the hapless residents of rural Kentucky. At least the music, the scenery, and Timothy Morton's performance kept it somewhat afloat.
Even the screenings that I didn't mention as high or lowlights seemed worth the experiences they gave. The Flyover Film Festival allowed for such wide leaps, like the newest adaptation of Wuthering Heights  followed by a program of deeply experimental film art . They truly give a gift to the city with this festival.
As Daly and I ended our conversation, I asked him about next year and how he hoped it would look. He immediately talked about how proud he was of the way they made this years festival distinctly their vision and knew that would continue to expand. He also said The Dreamland Film Theater on Market Street, where Saturday afternoon's screenings were held, would undergo new renovations. More than anything, he calmly said they would "continue to just step back and improve."
On the opening night, Daly addressed the appreciative crowd at the Speed Art Museum Theater, cautioning the audience that some of the films throughout the show would be challenging. "That's why you're at a festival," he said, "to test your limits and expand your horizons." I firmly believe the Flyover Film Festival accomplished this. I commend Daly, the Louisville Film Society, and everyone who brought this together for enriching the cultural life of the city.
Can I sleep now?
Image: Courtesy Louisville Film Society