Cleveland International Film Festival } March 25 – April 5, 2020 } Tower City Cinemas

Shaker Heights native returns home with first feature

April 05, 2019   |   posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers


At 20 years old, Phil Kibbe dropped out of college and accepted an internship with the Cleveland Film Commission, the start of his budding film career.

Working as a production assistant on local independent films and commercials, he eventually bought his own camera to continue developing his videography and cinematography skills. After seeing some footage of F1D model planes in flight, Kibbe was inspired to begin shooting his first feature documentary, “Float.”

“My producer on the film, who ended up being one of the characters, used to fly those planes all throughout high school and started getting back into it in his late 20s,” recalls Kibbe. “Half of this film definitely belongs to him. Without him, there would be no ‘Float.’”

That producer was Ben Saks, a friend of Kibbe’s since he was 12 years old. At the time the two decided to team up, successful competition documentaries like “King of Con!” and “Spellbound” were released, a genre Kibbe absolutely loved and wanted to be part of.

“What inspired me was not only the beauty of the planes, but the obscurity of the characters,” Kibbe says. “To devote so much time and energy to something that no one has ever heard of and that reaps no material reward, I really wanted to learn more about them as much as the planes.”

The level of dedication these individuals had to pursue something so complex and intricate fascinated Kibbe. Yet, in front of the camera, these incredibly talented F1D pilots were far more interested in their craft and less invested in performing or entertaining for a feature-length film.

“For the most part, they were very reserved, very suspicious, calculated, measured individuals,” says Kibbe, “which makes perfect sense [because that’s] what the hobby requires.”

After nine years of interviewing F1D pilots from all around the world and learning how to create an educational narrative for the masses about this niche subject matter, Kibbe hopes this may encourage people to become involved. With rumors this particular artform is dying, the film might breathe some much-needed life into the sport.

“This activity provides a home for a group of people who may have a hard time fitting in,” says Kibbe. “Hopefully the film helps it survive a little longer.”

Kibbe, a freelance videographer in New York City, looks forward to returning home. Originally from Shaker Heights, Ohio, he couldn’t think of a better city to premiere his first feature film.

“It’s fantastic,” exclaims Kibbe. “This is the town I started in, I grew up in, and to get all my friends and family to come out and see it is so worth it to me.”

Amy Brown

PHOTO: As a teenager at the height of the 1990s, Director Phil Kibbe began immersing himself in the language of cinema, inspired by innovative directors of the time, like Wes Anderson, Sam Mendes, and Darren Aronofsky.

PDF  Download Related PDF [1.3 MB]

Related Screenings:
04/05/19 @ 7:40 PM – Float
04/06/19 @ 5:30 PM – Float
04/07/19 @ 9:00 AM – Float

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