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Reel Stuff Film Fest of Aviation preps for takeoff

11 films selected for inaugural showcase.Presenters include actor Anthony Edwards.

Fans of aviation and cinema are strongly encouraged to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force next weekend as the Air Force Museum Theatre presents its inaugural Reel Stuff Film Festival of Aviation featuring 11distinctive films and a starry lineup of presenters.

Already drawing interest from patrons across the country and internationally, Reel Stuff will showcase full-length features and documentaries crisply depicted on a new 80 foot wide screen in the digital, state-of-the-art, 400-seat Museum Theatre which recently experienced a nearly $900,000 makeover. Besides dual 4K projectors and 7.1-plus surround sound with 20 speakers, upgrades include new carpeting, seats and a presentation stage. The festival serves as the grand reopening of the theatre.

In addition to offering the Midwest premiere of the Wright brothers-inspired “First in Flight” and a digitally remastered version of the 1927 silent film “Wings,” the first recipient of the Best Picture Academy Award, the festival is headlined by two screenings of “Top Gun 3D,” a new look at the 1986 blockbuster starring Tom Cruise directed by the late Tony Scott. Emmy Award nominee Anthony Edwards (“ER”) who portrayed Lt. Nick “Goose” Bradshaw in “Top Gun” will present the film Saturday along with Clay Lacy, the film’s famed aerial cinematographer, and Dr. Barry Sandrew, founder of Legend3D, the company that converted the film into 3D for Paramount Picture’s limited theatrical release two months ago.

Other noteworthy presenters include actor/author/historian William Wellman Jr. (son of the late “Wings” director William Wellman), “Memphis Belle” producer Catherine Wyler (daughter of the late “Memphis Belle” documentarian William Wyler, the Academy Award-winning director of “Ben-Hur”), producer/director John Tennyson (“High Flight,” co-produced by Emmy Award winner and Academy Award nominee Gary Sinise) and Wright State University alum Adam White (director of “The Restorers”).

“Each film on its own merits is interesting,” said Reel Stuff founder and director Ron Kaplan, founder and producer of Reel Stuff Aviation Resources and former executive director of the National Aviation Hall of Fame. “The added bonus for patrons is that every film is presented by filmmakers or someone closely associated to the making of each project discussing the creative process, the craft of filmmaking and the entertainment business. The filmmakers will discuss the challenges they faced making and distributing their project. Each film was created with great passion, as well. Filmmakers are passionate in their own right, but aviation enthusiasts are also passionate. When you mix the two, you end up with fascinating presentations.”

“We’ve put together an unforgettable weekend not only for aviation buffs and students of history, but also anyone who loves the art of the cinema or is fascinated by learning the technical, behind-the-scenes aspect of filmmaking,” said Mary Bruggeman, chief of theatre operations for the Air Force Museum Foundation. “It’s a rare opportunity to meet and mingle with the talented filmmakers responsible for some of our favorite aviation movies, and get a sneak peek at some new projects being shared for the first time.”

Assessing Reel Stuff’s future, Kaplan addressed the festival’s arts-centered focus and the Museum Theatre’s possibilities to grow as a credible arts site.

“Reel Stuff is as much about the arts and education as it is about aviation heritage,” he said. “Having visitors meet the creators of these films is like bringing DVD bonus features to life. I also feel Reel Stuff puts the Air Force Museum Theatre on the map as an arts venue. The theatre’s technology will allow for some very creative events and screenings.”

Schedule of events

Friday, April 12

10:30 a.m.: “The Restorers”

1 p.m.: “First in Flight”

3:30 p.m.: “High Flight” and “Uncle Jack”

6:30 p.m.: “Wings”

Saturday, April 13

10 a.m.: “Air Racers 3D”

12:30 p.m.: “Memphis Belle” (1944 documentary)

3 p.m.: “Memphis Belle” (1990 release)

6:30 p.m.: “Top Gun 3D”

Sunday, April 14

10 a.m.: “Steve Canyon”

12 p.m.: “Honor Flight”

3:30 p.m.: “Top Gun 3D”

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