WATERVILLE — Actress, model and producer Lauren Hutton will receive the Mid-Life Achievement Award next month at the 20th annual Maine International Film Festival.

Hutton, 73, who has starred in dozens of films, will be awarded the accolade at 6:30 p.m. July 20 at the Waterville Opera House where her movie” American Gigolo,” also starring Richard Gere, will be shown.

Festival programmer Ken Eisen said Friday that Hutton was very involved in what he would call the golden age of American filmmaking in the 1970s, and she has broken all the rules for aging, having modeled nude at 61 and continuing to model at 73.

“She has just completely redefined not just modeling but the whole definition of female beauty, I think,” Eisen said. “She is also a very, very good actress.”

Hutton was unavailable for an interview Friday but emailed the following comment to the Sentinel: “I’m really flattered and honored to be in the company of so many wonderful artists who have received this award, including many I know and have worked with. And thrilled this is a Mid-Life Achievement Award, which means I have a lot to look forward to and accomplish.”

Hutton’s best-known films are from the ’70s and ’80s and include “The Gambler,” which also stars James Caan and will be shown at the festival, according to Eisen. Hutton is one of 48 actors who star in “A Wedding,” directed by Robert Altman, to be shown at MIFF. “Welcome to L.A.,” featuring Hutton and former MIFF award winners Keith Carradine and Sissy Spacek, also is part of the lineup.

Hutton will be at the festival about a week — from July 15-22, according to Eisen.

“It will be really nice to have her,” he said. “I think she’s going to be a really fantastic guest to have, partly because her appeal is not just as an actress, but as a kind of iconic cultural figure.”

Hutton will join the list of previous achievement award winners Ed Harris, Glenn Close, Lili Taylor, Sissy Spacek, Jonathan Demme, Keith Carradine, Walter Hill, Michael Murphy, Gabriel Byrne, Jay Cocks, Robert Benton, Peter Fonda, Jos Stelling, Arthur Penn, Terrence Malick, John Turturro, Thelma Schoonmaker, Malcolm McDowell and Bud Cort.

The festival runs through July 23 and includes the opening night film, “The Sounding,” directed by and featuring Catherine Eaton and filmed off the Maine coast.

A program of the Maine Film Center, the festival brings film enthusiasts and writers, producers, actors and directors from all over the world to the Waterville Opera House, Railroad Square Cinema and Common Street Arts where about 100 independent and American and foreign-made films are screened.

Festival Director Shannon Haines said the festival has grown and become like a family over 20 years.

“The 20th anniversary feels like such an incredible milestone,” Haines said Friday. “The fact that the festival has grown and thrived over the past two decades is a testament to our outstanding programming, an amazing and dedicated staff and to what has become a close-knit community of film lovers. We are also very fortunate to have a group of filmmakers and past guests who have become like family to us, which is evident by the number of guests who are returning this year to celebrate this important milestone with us.”

The festival this year is being dedicated to director Jonathan Demme, who died April 26. Demme, director of films such as “Philadelphia” and “The Silence of the Lambs,” had attended the festival several times and was the Mid-Life Achievement Award winner in 2002. He and Eisen, a festival founder, were good friends, and Demme had accepted Eisen’s invitation last August to attend this year’s festival as well.

“He may have been the very first to accept,” Eisen said. “He was the most wonderful person I have ever met. He was a role model — just a completely good person, my definition of a really good person.”

Demme, he said, made all sorts of films, but he believes he made those such as “Philadelphia” and “Beloved” for a larger social purpose.

“Nobody who ever met him didn’t think that he was the greatest guy,” Eisen said. “He was there, he was present, he was interested in everything and everybody.”

Several of Demme’s films, including “Cousin Bobby,” a documentary about Demme’s cousin who was a minister in Harlem, will be shown, as will “Stop Making Sense” and “Something Wild.” Nationally, a lot of independent art houses will show “Stop Making Sense” July 19 as a tribute to Demme, Eisen said.

As part of celebrating the 20th annual festival, many former MIFF guests deemed by festival-goers as festival favorites are returning to Waterville and bringing either their own films or films they love. They include British filmmakers Sean Martin and Louise Milne, who are bringing four films, two of which will be world premieres and two American premieres, according to Eisen. One of the films they will bring, “Charlie Chaplin Lived Here,” is a documentary about Scottish filmmaker Bill Douglas’ lifelong Chaplin obsession.

Arshak Amerbekyan, of Armenia, will bring his new black and white film, “Mariam’s Day Off,” about a young prostitute who meets an artist in a park. Michael Murphy, who won the Mid-Life Achievement Award in 2015, will bring “Double Indemnity,” a film from 1944 starring Barbara Stanwyk, Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson.

Eisen said Murphy will talk about the film and his perspective on it.

“Michael’s family was friends with Edward G. Robinson, and he was in their house growing up,” Eisen said. “He’s going to sort of reminisce about growing up in L.A. to some extent and just present this fantastic film we will have a 35 mm print of.”

Vermont filmmaker Nora Jacobson will return to the festival with “Delivered Vacant” about housing wars in Hoboken. Jacobson’s film “My Mother’s Early Lovers” won MIFF’s audience award in 1999.

Producer Jim Stark, who produced the early films of Jim Jarmusch, will bring “Factotum.” Actress Verna Bloom will bring “The Immigrant,” and her husband, Jay Cocks, a former achievement award winner, will present “A Matter of Life or Death.”

Hilary Brougher, who attended the festival in its first year and several times thereafter, will bring “The Sticky Fingers of Time,” and Eisen’s wife, actress Karen Young, who also directs the MIFF shorts program, will bring “Carnival of Souls,” a “cheapy knock-off, almost macabre film from 1962 that is in black and white and very surreal,” according to Eisen.

“BAMBI” MIFF CENTERPIECE FILM

A highlight of the festival is its centerpiece film, “Bambi,” which is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

“Bambi,” according to Eisen, has Maine connections. Though it is not set in an identifiable place, the filmmakers imported deer from Maine as models for the film’s animators, he said. The deer were taken by train from Maine to Walt Disney Studios in 1940s Hollywood, Eisen said.

“The sketchings for the surroundings and everything also came from Maine,” he said. “They sent their animators to do that.”

Maurice Day of Damariscotta worked for Disney and was sent to photograph Mount Katahdin for the visual development of the film, and the musical composer, Frank Churchill, was from Rumford, according to Eisen.

“It’s kind of a Maine movie that no one knew was a Maine movie,” he said.

The idea for presenting “Bambi” came from Tom Wilhite, who lives on the Maine coast and years ago headed up a Hollywood studio, he said. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ film will be used for the showing.

“We are using the archival 35 mm print, so it should look just pristine and gorgeous and fantastic,” Eisen said.

For the first time, Tom DiCillo, who was at the forefront of the American independent filmmaking movement when people started to hear about it in the 1980s and ’90s, will present “Living in Oblivion,” “Delirious,” and “Box of Moonlight,” three films from that era. He also will present his new film, “Down in Shadowland,” a black and white documentary shot in the New York subways.

MIFF on Edge will be hosted by Common Street Arts throughout the festival and will include returning filmmaker Kerry Laitala.

Eisen said other filmmakers who had attended previous festivals and were invited to the 20th really wanted to come but are working on films and unable to be there.

“We had really sweet notes from people who are shooting. Ed Harris and Keith Carradine are involved in TV shows and shooting during the course of MIFF. Both said they’d love to be here, but their schedules don’t allow it.”

Roger Deakins will receive a major new award named for Karl Struss who was a pioneer cinematographer in Hollywood and won the first Oscar for cinematography.

“Deakins has been nominated for Oscars 13 times and he’s never won,” Eisen said. “Everybody thinks his time is due.”

Eisen said he thinks Deakins’ film “Blade Runner 2049,” which will be released in October, is sure to win an Oscar.

Films Deakins has worked on and which will be shown at the festival are “No Country for Old Men,” “Skyfall,” “Prisoners,” and “The Shawshank Redemption.”

The black-and-white Hollywood film “Deep Waters” from 1948 will be shown twice during the festival. Shot in Maine, it is about a fisherman played by Dana Andrews and a welfare worker played by Jean Peters. The film is based on the book “Spoonhandle,” written by Ruth Moore.

Festival tickets are available at www.miff.org or by calling 866-811-4111.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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Twitter: @AmyCalder17