The best films to catch at the 21st Maine International Film Fest
WATERVILLE—With more than 100 films shown over a 10-day span, the Maine International Film Fest is gearing up once again to highlight some of Maine and New England’s exceptional filmmakers from July 13 to 22.
The Festival’s opening night film on Friday, July 13, is Bookshop, a story set in England in 1959 where a free-spirited widow opens a bookshop in a conservative town, which sets up a battle between herself and some of the town’s prominent citizens. “When we choose an opening night film, we try to choose one that has very wide appeal and this one certainly does,” said MIFF Programming Director Ken Eisen. “This is a British film with a British cast, including Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy and shot interestingly by a Spanish director, Isabel Coixet. It won all kinds of awards in Spain.”
The Festival’s closing film on Sunday, July 22 at 7 p.m. appears to be the opening’s polar opposite, yet, it is just as serious as it is light and entertaining. The film, Support The Girls, depicts the story of Lisa, the general manager of sports bar called Double Whammies, a fictional version of Hooters. An incurable den mother, she nurtures and protects her girls fiercely. “This film is interestingly directed by a man, but one of the most feminist movies I’ve ever seen,” said Eisen. “It’s serious, but it’s also very entertaining and makes for a perfect closing film.”
Every year, the festival honors members of the independent film industry whose contributions to cinema deserve recognition. Past honorees invited to MIFF have included Lauren Hutton, Gabriel Byrne, Glenn Close, Keith Carradine, and many other notable actors and filmmakers. This year, the festival honors Dominique Sanda. “She is amazing; sort of the leading European film actress of the 1970s,” said Eisen. “She’s been in films made in France, Italy and America with performances in The Conformist, and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis and Une Femme Douce directed by Robert Bresson. In fact, the first three films she made were with these legendary directors. She’s just incredibly beautiful, incredibly elegant and a great actress with a global resume. She’s going to be here for the entire festival, which very few of our major name guests have the chance to stay for.”
Of the notable films Sanda starred in is a blast-from-the-past stand out for the film festival: a renovation of Bernardo Bertolucci’s most ambitious films:1900 (Novecento) screening Wednesday, July 18 at 12 p.m. This five-hour long story (yes, five) is told from the perspective of two Italian childhood friends, Robert DeNiro and Gerard Depardieu, both from different classes, which is nothing less than a history of the 20th century told in political and personal terms over the course of decades.” This is the world premier of this DCP restoration of Bertolucci’s preferred cut made especially for MIFF.
Beyond full-length films, several shot in Maine, the Festival’s Animated Shorts are always a hit. This year, featuring a number of one to 17-minute shorts that seem to get range from metaphysical to dark comedy to Heaven and Hell this year such as Smoke-n-Suds, a guy in the 1980s East Village encounters a cool couple and spends an engaging and unforgettable evening with them; The Vastness of Everything & Everywhere, A bit of nifty whimsy; Cerulia, Grandma and Grandpa heads are emerging from their graves – a hallucinatory stop motion film springing from the presence of an imaginary playmate; Satan’s in Heaven, Donald Trump’s been elected President, and the cherubs are leaving; and #42 Dream – Always Carry a Guest Toothbrush, A guy winds up in Hell and meets wretches fighting over soup. Get your Shorts on Saturday, July 14 at 12:30 p.m. and Thursday, July 19 at 6:30 p.m. FMI: Animated Shorts
There are many more categories of film, along with a host of special events, parties and receptions and chances for the audience to meet and talk with some of the people behind the movies – directors, producers, writers, musicians. People may buy a partial or full MIFF pass or tickets to the individual shows. FMI: Program
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org