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Independent filmmaker Bryan Reichhardt of Silver Spring wasn’t sure what to expect when he hopped in a car with friend Paul Glenshaw in 2009 and headed to rural Ohio to catch up with some antique airplane pilots.

But he’s glad he did.

Washington West Film Festival

When: Wednesday to Sunday

Where: Venues in Reston, Fairfax and Rosslyn, Va. Check schedule for times and locations.

Tickets: $5 to $50 depending on event.

For a complete listing of films and events: wwfilmfest.com

The trip turned into the 49-minute feature documentary “Barnstorming,” which will screen on Sunday at the Bow Tie Cinemas in Reston, Va.

“Barnstorming” is one of 41 films included in the third annual Washington West Film Festival running from Wednesday to Sunday at several venues in Northern Virginia.

“Barnstorming” follows two antique airplane pilots on their way back from a big air show in Oshkosh, Wis., who spotted an alfalfa field and decided to land to take pictures.

The Dirksen family who owned the farm invited them in — and also invited them back — for what has become a yearly tradition to entertain enthralled children and visit with local families that have become good friends.

“They come back year after year — it’s a big event,” said Reichhardt’s wife, singer/songwriter Suzanne Brindamour, who wrote the music for the film.

The filmmakers will attend the screening for a Q&A session.

Screening at the Washington West Film Festival on Saturday is a documentary by College Heights filmmaker Noel “Sonny” Izon about 140,000 black American soldiers stationed in Britain in preparation for the D-Day landings, where they were welcomed by English citizens.

The 58-minute “Choc’late Soldiers from the USA,” will screen at the Angelika Film Center & Café in Fairfax, Va.

One million African-Americans served during World War II, but many newsreels of the day showed only Caucasian faces, said Izon.

“The iconic images of the stories of World War II are pretty much white,” he said.

African-Americans liberated towns and concentration camps, but when they got home, they were still treated like second-class citizens, said Izon.

“Choc’late Soldiers from the USA” screened at the GI Film Festival in Arlington in May and will show at a festival in Bakersfield, Calif., on Nov. 8, he said.

“We’re showing it a dozen film festivals to refine it and give us the time to raise the completion funds,” said Izon, who plans to add music performed by an orchestra.

Izon has partnered with actor Joe Mantegna from the TV show “Criminal Minds” to look for a distributor. They hope to show the film on a cable TV channel and ultimately PBS.

An earlier film directed by Izon, “An Untold Triumph,” about the contributions of the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment during World War II, debuted nationally on PBS in 2005 and ran for four years, reaching millions of viewers.

“I like to deal with history, the untold stories that have been left out of our historical narrative,” said Izon. “I want to complete our national narrative.”

Also scheduled for Saturday is a visit by Emmy-award winner Ed Asner, who will speak about a 12-minute short, “Good Men,” in which he appears with a longtime friend, director Mark Rydell.

In the film, the two get into a heated discussion about the Holocaust, conspiracy theories and the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City.

Following the movie, Asner and Rydell will also do a reading of “Oxymorons,” a short play by Brian Connors, who also wrote and directed “Good Men.”

Also screening are full-length movies, including “Just a Sigh” starring Gabriel Byrne, and a 10th anniversary screening of “Bruce Almighty” starring Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston.

Tom Shadyac, director of “Bruce Almighty,” will be present for a Q&A session.

There are also two collections of shorts screening on Friday and again Saturday, and, for the first time, films made by students at George Mason University in Fairfax.

This year also marks the first year for films from a specific foreign country. This year the focus is on Lithuania.

Released in 2010, “Barnstorming” has appeared on PBS stations around the country but Sunday is the first time it has appeared on screen in the Washington, D.C., area, said Reichhardt, who edited the film and co-produced it with Glenshaw.

They had heard about the annual fly-in at the farm in Indiand had been encouraged to do a film about it.

“We almost didn’t go, because there was no funding for it,” said Reichhardt, who decided to go anyway.

“We were shooting everything we saw,” said Reichhardt, who also brought along his nephew, Mark Betancourt, who also shot footage.

“We quickly knew we had something,” said Reichhardt. “We knew we had something special.”

Three years later, the memory of the annual fly-in sticks with him.

“Just being a part of it is so peaceful, friendly and fun,” he said.



vterhune@gazette.net