Sep. 5—The Skyline Indie Film Fest has endured many challenges, including the pandemic, over its 10-year history, but it's back in full form to deliver a slate of narrative features, feature documentaries, shorts and experimental films.
The fest runs from Sept. 8 to 11 at various venues throughout Winchester, Virginia. The city's Alamo Draft House will serve as the main screening venue. Most of the films will screen in person, though some will screen virtually.
Skyline was founded in 2013 by two bookstore owners who decided there should be a film festival in Old Town Winchester. Thanks to the support of volunteers and the board of directors, Skyline finds itself in its 10th year of programming, with a vision to share new and independent films in the community each September.
This year, the festival highlights films that overcame major challenges, particularly the coming-of-age film "5-22-77," directed by Patrick Read Johnson. This epic story is about growing up in rural Illinois, falling in love with sci-fi, falling in love with film and becoming the ultimate fan of "Star Wars." Johnson, best known for directing "Spaced Invaders," "Angus" and "Baby's Day Out," will be in attendance. The film stars John Francis Daley ("Freaks & Geeks"), Colleen Camp ("Clue"), Austin Pendleton ("My Cousin Vinny") and the late Justin Mentell ("Boston Legal").
The festival will conclude with the East Coast premiere of Eric Pennycoff's newest horror film, "The Leech." The film stars Graham Skipper ("Sequence Break") and Jeremy Gardner ("After Midnight"). A devout priest welcomes a struggling couple into his house at Christmas. What begins as a simple act of kindness quickly escalates into the ultimate test of faith once the sanctity of the home is jeopardized. Writer Eric Pennycoff will attend the post-screening discussion.
Other festival highlights include a spotlight screening of "Billion Dollar Babies: The True Story of the Cabbage Patch Kids." The documentary about the toy franchise is produced and narrated by actor/producer Neil Patrick Harris and directed by Andrew Jenks.
Survival, the festival's theme, serves up an incredible survival tale in "Delivering Hope," a documentary of ultra-runner Kevin Kline. Eight days before his 50th birthday, he ran the northernmost 300 miles of Alaska's dangerous Dalton Highway in winter to raise awareness for children battling pediatric cancer. Traversing the world's 10th-most dangerous road, Kline faces -40 temperatures running to the virtual top of the world.
A special treat for horror film fans will be two films, "The Third Saturday in October" and "The Third Saturday in October Part V," from writer/director Jay Burleson and producers Ian J. Cunningham and Frank Crafts, who will all be in attendance.
For music lovers, two films should whet their appetite. "The History of Metal and Horror," a documentary directed by Mike Schiff, features interviews with Rob Zombie, Michael Berryman and Alice Cooper. "Ragged Heart" is a Southern musical drama featuring music legends Jim White and Patterson Hood of "Drive-by Truckers."
A film that has created a lot of buzz is the rural thriller "The Integrity of Joseph Chambers," which stars Claye Crawford ("Rectify," "The Killing of Two Lovers") and Jordanna Brewster (the "Fast and the Furious" franchise).
This year, the festival will feature nine local films:
"Absence of Light" — A coming-of-age story following two boys and their adventures as they discover an unexpected connection.
"Back to the Sea" — Aunofo Havea, the first licensed ship captain in Polynesia and a well-known Tongan seafarer, trail-blazes a place for women in the maritime industry and revolutionizes how the Tongan people interact with the whales that inhabit their waters.
"Frantic" — A young woman suspects someone is after her while she housesits for a stranger.
"How Long Must We Wait" — A historical documentary about the 72-year battle that women fought to get the right to vote in the U.S.
"Our First Priority" — A tale of one girl's experience of medical gaslighting and the avenging angels that keep our universe in balance.
"Snub Nose" — A gorgeous woman, a jealous man and a loaded revolver.
"Table for Two" — Sofia and Chris seem to make the most out of a potentially awkward date, but reality sinks in as their means of communication reveals something Sofia was hoping to avoid.
"The Pins of Madeleine Albright" — The pin collection of the Honorable Madeleine Albright is a language globally recognized, yet completely her own. This short documentary follows her ascent to the White House, her experiences as the only woman in the room and the decision to speak through her pins throughout her storied career.
"True Crime" — A wannabe fitness influencer and true crime junkie orders the security system from her favorite podcast. Now she can't shake the creepy feeling she's being watched. Is she the next true crime target? Or is this a different kind of power play?
Tickets are available at skylineindiefilmfest.org. Indie film lovers can buy tickets to individual screenings for $12, pick a block of five short films to watch for $12, or purchase a full festival pass for $50. Streaming shorts are $5 each. Visit skylineindiefilmfest.org for more information.