WATERVILLE—The Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) kicks off this weekend for a 10-day festival in Waterville showcasing nearly 100 films. Of particular interest are the 11 “Maine Short” films made by some of Maine’s most innovative filmmakers.
A short film is defined as a motion picture with less than 40 minutes running time and the majority of Maine shorts screening this weekend hover around the 10- to 12-minute mark.
“These shorts represent some of the highest quality shorts we’ve ever shown at MIFF and we had to break them up into two programs,” said Mike Perreault, executive director of the Maine Film Center, which hosts the festival said
Asked to highlight several noteworthy films in each program, Perrault pointed to the 38-minute film Natasha Mayers: An Unstill Life in Maine Shorts I by filmmakers Geoffrey Leighton and Anita Clearfield. The film’s premise is listed as “Artist. Trickster. Activist. For over 50 years, Natasha has taken on social, economic, and environmental justice issues with humor, irreverence, and a keen aesthetic.”
“It’s a terrifically creative film featuring the activist art of Natasha Mayers, whom we’re honored to be welcoming to the festival this year,” he said.
Embryonic Universe, a three-minute short in the Maine shorts II program, by sisters Isabelle Rogers and Phoebe Rogers, asks the question, “Can something as small as a single seed be the roots to something as endless as the universe?”
“Personally, I’m most proud of this one by the two sisters who are collectively known as Saggitarius Rising,” said Perreault. “They’re young, Maine filmmakers who have come up through the Maine Student Film and Video Festival, which we host the second Saturday of MIFF. They’ve taken home top prizes at that student festival for a number of years. Their work is completely handmade. They paint, draw, and assemble all of these stop-motion films frame by frame. They are also talented musicians, so they compose all of the music, sing, and perform it for the films. They have such a unique talent and style and are emblematic of everything we try to do in the Maine Shorts program.”
A Waltz In Time is another six-minute stop-motion animation in Maine Shorts II that stands out by Gordon LePage, which is described: “A girl repairs a torn melody when she visits an abandoned estate.”
“Gordon is an alumnus of the festival,” he said. “He had a short film with us last year and we’re excited to welcome him back this year. He does great stop-motion animation, which is 3-D. He creates the models and moves them around to tell these really interesting stories.”
Like so many venues which had to reconfigure their operations due to the COVID-19 virus, MIFF switched over to screening all of its films at the Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre last year and offered some of them online. This year, the films are back in Railroad Square Cinema, as well as at the Skowhegan Drive-in Theatre and online.
“We learned from that experience and found that it’s a better way to bring more people to the festival and expose them to talented filmmakers. We also had a number of filmmakers who weren’t able to travel last year or this year because of COVID-19 restrictions, so we’ve recorded introductions. At least we have some kind of contact between the audience and filmmakers, which is what really makes the festival so enlightening and successful.”
Maine Shorts I will run on Saturday, July 10, at 3 p.m. at Railroad Square Cinema and Maine Shorts II will run on Sunday, July 11, at 3 p.m. at Railroad Square Cinema. Both programs are combined on Tuesday, July 13 at 8:30 p.m. at the Skowhegan Drive-in Theatre. Once each program screens, the films will also be available to view online for a small fee. FMI: MIFF Tickets
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org