Greetings, dear film friends! We’re heading to Waterville, Maine, for one of our favorite film fests! Hopefully we’ll rub elbows with the illustrious Malcolm McDowell on Saturday. Wish us luck! See you all next week!
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The Maine International Film Festival
Friday, July 15 – Sunday, July 24, 2011
In just a couple of weeks, the 14th Annual Maine International Film Festival — one of our favorite local fests — comes to the quaint city of Waterville and the charming, homegrown indie theater the Railroad Square Cinema [it all started with a passion for movies -- read "Railroad Square Cinema: Maine's Movie Mecca," 1999]. Festival co-founder and director Ken Eisen (he founded the Fest along with his late, beloved wife, Beth) has become a good friend and film compadre, though we’ve only met in person once. We first spoke to Ken almost three years ago as we planned our Lowell screenings of Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus and Girls Rock. We obtained licensing for the films from Ken’s Waterville-based distribution company Shadow Distribution, who have since acquired rights to some mighty impressive titles, including last year’s MIFF hit The Kids Grow Up and one of our favorites, Earthwork, which we’re proudly screening right here in Lowell on Tuesday, September 13, as part of our 2011 Film & the Arts Series. The relationships we’ve made since starting up the Lowell Film Collaborative have been priceless – thank you, Ken, for the support you give to independent filmmakers and all us indie film buffs.
The MIFF’s catchy tag of 10 days, 100 films, 50 filmmakers is no lie. Their program is packed so be prepared to spend time working out your schedule. As is tradition, the Fest bestows a Mid-Life Achievement Award to an actor or actress of the highest caliber. Their 2011 recipient, Malcolm McDowell, is this year’s Guest of Honor and will accept his award on Saturday, July 16 at Colby College’s Given Auditorium. McDowell’s work will be showcased and celebrated through screenings of his most renowned films, including (of course) A Clockwork Orange and O Lucky Man! (He was unforgettable as the vulgar, sex-obsessed Roman emperor in Caligula, but we’re pretty sure the MIFF is trying to keep the Fest open to all audiences!) Other award honorees in years past include John Turturro, Peter Fonda and Sissy Spacek. If rubbing elbows with Malcolm isn’t enough, you’ll also meet producers, writers, directors and actors at many of the MIFF screenings. This is a special treat for indie film buffs, and something we treasure about this Fest.
We attended the MIFF in 2010 and had a blast taking in all the films we possibly could and even tried our hand at blogging each film we saw; a tough feat given our tight viewing schedule. We think sitting in a Railroad Square Cinema chair donated by Stephen King inspired us (be sure to look for the coveted seat in their smaller screening room — it’s got great mojo!) One of the remarkable things that impressed us about the MIFF was Waterville’s Festival support — everywhere we went we saw welcome signs in the windows and were treated to special deals as Festival goers. Believe us when we say that this makes a HUGE difference to a visitor. It’s something we’re always pushing for in Lowell and we’re happy to say that Waterville makes it look easy. Not-to-be-missed spots in downtown Waterville include Barrels Community Market and Jorgensen’s Main Street Cafe, two of our favorite places. Another gem, the Grand Central Cafe, is right next door to the Railroad Square Cinema and is always decked out for the Fest – their pizza is pretty phenominal. Click here for more info on Waterville and its shops and eateries.
Your next step? Visit the Maine International Film Festival at miff.org and sign up to get an e-mail alert when their complete film lineup gets released. We’re confident you’ll make this indie film fest an annual trek!