WATERVILLE — Screenwriter Jay Cocks will receive the Mid-Life Achievement Award next month at the 13th annual Maine International Film Festival, organizers announced Wednesday.

Cocks helped write “Gangs of New York” and “The Age of Innocence” and earned Academy Award nominations for the work. He is also a former critic for Time, Newsweek and Rolling Stone magazines.

He spends summers on Mount Desert Island and is married to actress Verna Bloom.

Cocks, who works closely with director Martin Scorsese, is involved in film history and preservation, and will present restored films at the festival, to run July 9-18.

About 100 films from all over the world will be shown at Railroad Square Cinema and the Waterville Opera House as part of the 10-day event. About 50 filmmakers will meet with patrons before and after film showings, as well as at events including receptions and panel discussions.

Cocks and Bloom have attended the festival in past years and have been supportive of the event, which draws filmmakers and film enthusiasts from all over the world.

Ken Eisen, a festival founder and programmer, and festival director Shannon Haines said Cocks was the perfect choice for the achievement award.

“He’s been sort of in front of our noses all these years and has an amazing, amazing vitae,” Eisen said Wednesday. “He has written astonishing films and has this tremendous filmic knowledge, and he’s a great guy.”

Cocks, 66, joins the ranks of Ed Harris, Peter Fonda, Sissy Spacek, Bud Cort, Jonathan Demme, John Turturro and others who have received festival awards in the past.

Among the restored films Cocks will present are “The Big Country,” an epic western from 1958 starring Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston and Jean Simmons; and “Wild River,” an Elia Kazan film starring Montgomery Clift and Lee Remick.

“Wild River” was shown at the Haines Theater on Main Street in Waterville in 1960, the year it was made. The theater, which was located in the current TD Bank drive-through, burned in 1967, said Haines, who has no family connection to the theater.

Haines discovered a photo of the Haines Theater, displaying the “Wild River” film on its marquee in 1960, on the mayor’s conference room wall in City Hall. She had been attending meetings in that conference room for years but only recently — after learning Cocks would present “Wild River” at the film festival — noticed the film’s name in the photo.

The festival’s opening night film on July 9 will be “Get Low,” a comedy-drama starring Bill Murray, Robert Duvall and Spacek.

Haines saw the film at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, last year. It is scheduled to be released commercially in August.

“I just think it will be a really strong opening film for our audience, and I think it’s great we can show something with Sissy Spacek,” she said. “It is fun; it’s also pretty intensely emotional. It’s beautifully shot, and our audiences will absolutely love it.”

The festival’s Centerpiece Gala July 13 will feature “Howl,” a fiction film based on Alan Ginsberg’s poem of the same name. The film will open in commercial theaters in September, according to Eisen.

The closing night film July 18 will be an advance preview screening of “Voices Unbound,” a documentary about the Freedom Writers, a group of at-risk youths who rise above their circumstances by writing about their lives. Director Danny Anken plans to be present for the premiere here.

The film festival has been chosen as one of six venues in the country to take part in the American Film Institute’s “Project: 20/20,” and will show four of its films, according to Haines. The films include “Ahead of Time,” produced by Zeva Oelbaum, who will attend the showing; and “Sita Sings the Blues,” an animated film whose dancer and choreographer, Reena Shah, will host a dance clinic as part of the festival.

“It’s a truly hand-animated movie made by one person — filmmaker Nina Paley,” Eisen said. “It’s by far the best animated film I’ve seen in the last decade.”

The festival on July 17 will host “Making it in Maine Day,” featuring Maine-made films. Maine-made films also will be shown throughout the festival, according to Eisen and Haines.

The Maine Student Film and Video Festival also is scheduled for July 17.

A special feature of the festival this year is the showing of “Utopia,” a film by Sam Green, to be shown July 12 at the Waterville Opera House and accompanied by an interactive concert featuring four musicians.

Actress Julie Hagerty, a comedienne, will present her new film, “Makeup,” July 14 at the Opera House, along with “Lost in America” and “Airplane,” two other films in which she stars.

Last year, the festival saw 10,000 admissions, the largest attendance to date, Haines said.

The festival is a project of the Maine Film Center and is sponsored by Bangor Savings Bank and Colby College.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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