An LFC report on the Maine International Film Festival
(in short, we loved it!)
We picked a glorious weekend to be indoors for the Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) in Waterville, Maine this past weekend (July 15-17). Ok, perhaps a little bit of rain would have made us feel less guilty about missing the gorgeous summer sunshine, but at least we were joined by plenty of other enthusiastic film fest goers who also sat for hours in a darkened theater. As always, the MIFF was superb and offered up the perfect film fest getaway. In addition to spending our movie-watching time at the Railroad Square Cinema (the fest’s primary host venue), we spent as much time as we could in downtown Waterville at the spots we adore most: Barrels Community Market, Grand Central Cafe and Jorgensen’s Cafe. A new addition to the city center is a tea drinkerie called Selah Tea Cafe. We were delighted to run into this newly opened space (just three months old) and enjoyed delicious, expertly brewed hot and cold teas.
We want to state again how impressive this film festival is. Given that Waterville is a town of less than 25,000 people, it’s so great to see a group of people so immersed in film, so connected with their community, and so hellbent on delivering a quality festival that outshines the modest location where it’s held. From the pleasant and welcoming volunteers to the beautiful festival program (as good or better as any we’ve received at Boston festivals), this fest is truly one to be proud of. Our hats off to Festival Director Shannon Haines and her dedicated staff, including LFC friend and Festival Programmer Ken Eisen, founder of Shadow Distribution.
In our two-and-a-half days at the MIFF, we enjoyed six amazing and VERY different films plus a screening of O Lucky Man! in commemoration of the MIFF’s special guest and Mid-Life Achievement Honoree Malcolm McDowell who traveled to Waterville and hung out at the event all weekend. If being just a few feet away from McDowell wasn’t already a thrill, he attended our final film screening on Sunday and looked as comfortable and casual as everyone else in the audience. McDowell wasn’t the only film star on hand — as always at the MIFF, we were treated to filmmaker and cast visits at most of the screenings, one of the primary things we love about this fest.
For your perusing pleasure, below is the list of films we viewed each day at the Maine International Film Festival along with our ‘Personal Picks’ — trailers for the films are located on each film website/Facebook page. Should you be free in the days ahead, the festival takes place through July 24. We wholeheartedly recommend making the trek to Waterville!
DAY ONE (July 15)
The American Folk Festival
Completed as a documentary film project, this vibrant film showcased a weekend in Bangor, Maine, during one of the largest music festivals in the northeast.
A Manhattan gay couple newly transplanted to a small Connecticut community experiences unforeseen conflict with the citizens of their new home.
DAY TWO (July 16)
Paul Goodman Changed My Life
A detailed and personal look into the fascinating and complicated life of poet, writer, activist, and anarchist Paul Goodman.
Darwin – Suzz’s Pick
Visit the eccentric people of Darwin, CA, an isolated 35-person town located at the ‘end of the earth’ in the heart of Death Valley. Fascinating, emotional and unforgettable.
O Lucky Man!
Malcolm McDowell is Mick Travis, a charming, disaffected coffee seller who finds himself hellbent on making a success of himself. Director Lindsay Anderson tells the story like a naughty Greek fable, complete with a 70’s Brit-pop Greek Chorus in the form of keyboardist Alan Price.
DAY THREE (July 17)
The Athlete – Brett’s Pick
The true story of Ethiopia’s 1960 Olympic gold-medal marathon runner Abebe Bikila comes to life through stunning archival footage and a fantastic lead performance by Rasselas Lakew.
Luck, Trust & Ketchup: Robert Altman in Carver Country
Directors Mike Kaplan and John Dorr turn the camera on the legendary Robert Altman and Altman’s entire cast as they filmed Short Cuts, one of Altman’s most renowned films.