WATERVILLE — Actor, producer and singer-songwriter Keith Carradine has seen many changes in the movie industry during his 40-plus-year career, including the growing challenges facing independent filmmaking.

“I don’t think independent films are going to disappear, but it will be more difficult to find public viewing circumstances which people can go to,” he said in an interview this week.

Carradine, 63, believes that’s where small art houses, such as Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville, fill a critical role in keeping independent film alive and publicly available.

The stakes are high, according to Carradine.

“I think that indie filmmaking is the last bastion of true creative, artistic spirit,” he said.

Carradine will soon add Railroad Square Cinema to the list of small art houses he has visited – he’ll arrive in Waterville Sunday for the Maine International Film Festival. This year festival organizers are conferring on Carradine the event’s most prestigious accolade: the 2013 Mid-Life Achievement Award. The recognition is given annually to someone who has made significant contributions to the world of independent film.

“I’m greatly touched that, at this point in my life, I’m considered to have a body of work worthy of recognition,” he said. “The bottom line is, I’m very flattered and honored.”

Others who have received the award in recent years include Thelma Schoonmaker, Malcolm McDowell, Jay Cocks, John Turturro, Bud Cort, Lili Taylor, Ed Harris, Peter Fonda, Jonathan Demme, Sissy Spacek, Terrence Malick and Jos Stelling.

Carradine will receive the award at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Waterville Opera House, where the 1975 Robert Altman film “Nashville” will be shown. Carradine starred as womanizer and singer-guitarist Tom Frank in the film. He won an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for his song “I’m Easy,” which he performed in the movie.

Altman, described by film festival programmer Ken Eisen as “simply the greatest film director ever,” died in 2006.

Altman was a genius, according to Carradine, who worked with the director/screenwriter in several other films, including “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” and “Thieves Like Us,” both of which are being shown during the film festival.

“He invited you to bring whatever you wanted to the party,” Carradine said of Altman. “You had a great sense of freedom working with Bob, and a great sense of security. He got remarkable things from actors. Bob was a really innovative filmmaker – truly an artist.”

During the film festival, Carradine will be reunited with Altman’s widow, Kathryn, who will attend “Celebrating Altman,” a special program honoring his work. Altman actors and collaborators Michael Murphy, Allan Nicholls and Mike Kaplan also will attend the program to discuss Altman movies scheduled to be shown Tuesday and Wednesday.

Carradine is looking forward to the reunion. He said he saw Kathryn Altman and Michael Murphy recently when they came to see him in the Broadway show, “Hands on a Hardbody,” which netted Carradine a Tony award nomination for feature actor in a musical (“It was a great show and I had a great time doing it,” he said). He also saw them at the Torino Film Festival, in Turin, Italy.

“It’ll be great to see them and spend time with them (in Waterville),” he said.

Also celebrating Altman will be Annie Ross, who starred in his film “Short Cuts,” and created its soundtrack. A founding member of the jazz vocal ensemble, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, she will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Opera House.

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

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