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  1. Life & Culture

Skyway Film Festival features 'Blair Witch Project' and actors Thomas Ian Nicholas, Jon Heder

Directors Eduardo Sanchez, left, and Dan Myrick of The Blair Witch Project in 1999. Myrick, a University of Central Florida grad, will talk about the movie June 13 at the Skyway Film Festival.
Directors Eduardo Sanchez, left, and Dan Myrick of The Blair Witch Project in 1999. Myrick, a University of Central Florida grad, will talk about the movie June 13 at the Skyway Film Festival.
Published Jun. 2, 2015

In its inaugural year, the Skyway Film Festival has assembled a lineup rivaling Florida's longer running cinema showcases.

Skyway makes its debut June 12-14 with more than 50 features, documentaries, shorts and events, most scheduled at Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave. W in Bradenton.

Films include the previously announced opening night selection Walt Before Mickey, dramatizing the early career of Walt Disney. Thomas Ian Nicholas (American Pie) plays the animation groundbreaker, and is slated to attend the world premiere with co-star Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) and others from the film.

Tickets are $15 for the 8 p.m. showing, with the red carpet entrance opening at 6:30. The festival's standard ticket price for other screening sessions is $12. Tickets and full lineup information are available at skywayfilmfestival.com.

Eight features make their Florida debuts in the narrative competition including Across the Sea, winner of the Slamdance Film Festival's audience award, and Land of Leopold, a Sun Valley festival award winner.

The lineup announced Monday also features a retrospective screening of 1999's The Blair Witch Project, one of the most divisive yet influential independent films in years, created by two University of Central Florida graduates.

Co-writer/director/editor Dan Myrick, class of '94, will accompany his pioneering found-footage horror flick, conducting a Q&A on June 13 at 2:30 p.m. The Blair Witch Project will be screened that evening at 9:20 p.m.

Myrick's conversation is part of the festival's Skyway Labs series, focusing on technical and creative processes in filmmaking. Another lab is Film Fatales, a discussion of directing from women's perspectives, moderated by Variety critic John Anderson. Other topics include film financing, distribution and branding, and a Q&A with actor Andre Holland (Showtime's The Knick).

Skyway's closing night film No Stranger Than Love (6:30 p.m.) stars Colin Hanks and Allison Brie as lovers caught in an existential quandary. Neither actor is slated to attend.

Contact Steve Persall at spersall@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

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