The original idea was to shoot the short film “Roots in Water” in upstate New York. But when the location of choice fell through, cinematographer Alice Brooks offered an alternative.
“I said, ‘My mom lives in South Bristol. The house she lives in would be perfect for this,’ ” recalls Brooks, who lives in Biddeford.
She enticed director Domenica Cameron-Scorsese — yes, that Scorsese; she is Martin’s daughter — to visit the quiet midcoast community and check it out for herself. The director liked what she saw. Soon after, production began on the short drama.
The movie is about three siblings who return to their ancestral home after the death of their mother. With their mother’s death, the future of the family hangs in the balance as the siblings realize the bond that held the family together no longer exists.
The movie will have a screening at the Maine International Film Festival in Waterville, which opens this week. The festival will screen almost 100 films from around the world.
Over the course of the 10-day festival, Waterville will host some of the best independent, international and Maine-made films to the big screen, said festival director Shannon Haines.
Here are some highlights:
• The festival will honor Jay Cocks, a screenwriter and two-time Oscar nominee, with its Mid-life Achievement Award. Cocks’ screenplays include “De-Lovely” (2004), “Strange Days” (1995), “The Age of Innocence” (1993) and “Gangs of New York” (2002), the latter two directed by Martin Scorsese. In addition to receiving the award, Cocks will introduce the classic movies “The Big Country” (1958) and “Wild River” (1960).
• Comedian and actress Julie Hagerty will be on hand for the screening of two of her films, “Airplane!” (1980) and “Lost in America” (1985). The latter will be twined with the new indie short “Make Up,” in which Hagerty stars.
• “Utopia in Four Movements,” a multimedia documentary, explores the subject of unified idealism in the 21st century. The movie will screen in Waterville, and will also have a special Portland screening at Space Gallery, 538 Congress St., at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
There is plenty of Maine in the festival. In addition to “Roots in Water,” MIFF will screen “The Eventful Life of Al Hawkes,” which tells the story of the Maine musician, record producer and bluegrass pioneer.
“Roots in Water” is actually a precursor of things to come, Brook said. Cameron-Scorsese intends to turn her 19-minute short into a feature-length film. She made the short to entice funding for the longer version, which will be titled “New England.” Tony Award-winning playwright Richard Nelson is the screenwriter for the project.
Brooks said the director has indicated her desire to shoot the feature-length film in South Bristol as well. That issue raises the question of tax incentives, which many states use to lure the film industry.
Maine’s incentive package lacks the punch of other Northeast states and the Canadian Maritime provinces, putting it at a competitive disadvantage, Brooks said.
The topic is sure to come up in Waterville.
“We would all love to make more movies here and not have to travel as much,” said Brooks, who spent 280 days away from her home in Biddeford last year. “But without the incentives, it’s just really hard.
“I thought that showing this movie at the Maine International Film Festival would be a good way to show the film to people in Maine and also to let people know about the issue and our hopeful future of making more movies here.”
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: