June 21, 2012

Indie Film: Maine native creates thriller that shows state's icy beauty

'Nor'easter' was filmed on Vinalhaven and in Thomaston, Hope and Rockland.


It's winter on a tiny island off the Maine coast, and a young, newly arrived priest tries to draw his sparse new congregation back to the church by convincing a bereaved couple to hold a symbolic memorial for their young son, who'd disappeared five years ago. Both aspects of his plan have the desired effect: His church begins to fill up, and the couple seem to find solace.

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“Enter the Dragon,” a Bruce Lee martial arts classic, kicks off a series of free outdoor summer screenings Wednesday at Bayside Bowl.

Courtesy photo




Wednesday: "Enter the Dragon." Teaming up with Portland's indie film mecca SPACE Gallery, Bayside Bowl kicks off a series of free outdoor summer screenings with this Bruce Lee martial arts classic. So come on out, roll a few frames and then watch Bruce put the hurt on an army of baddies.



Wednesday: "Up Heartbreak Hill." Two Native American teenagers hope to utilize their track and field skills to escape the crushing poverty of their lives on a Navajo reservation in this offering in the Library's Summer Documentary Film Series.

And then, one snowy night, the boy comes back, now an unnervingly silent teenager, refusing to explain where he's been or what happened to him.

That's the premise of "Nor'easter," the new film from Maine native Andrew Brotzman, which filmed last year on Vinalhaven and in Thomaston, Hope and Rockland. Now living (in L.A.) "away," Brotzman always intended to return to Maine to film his first feature, for a number of reasons.

"It was emotionally important," Brotzman said. "Maine's always been a really important part of myself and what I consider my home, but I was also trying to create a thriller that partakes of Maine's natural beauty. 'Nor'easter' is very cold and isolated, and I really wanted to do winter in Maine; I've never seen it done right in a movie before."

In addition, Brotzman cites the advice of noted film critic and author Ray Carney as an inspiration to return home, and to examine his own views on faith. "Ray says you should write what you know and what you don't know about that. (In addition to the film's thriller aspect) I'm most interested in religion and what it's like to be a religious person, the impact of what you do being a religious person and what it means to bring your belief to someone else. And to avoid screwing things up when you do that."

With a solid cast including David Call ("Tiny Furniture," "Rescue Me") as the young priest, Richard Bekins ("United 93") as the grieving father, and Liam Aiken ("Lemony Snicket") as the mysteriously retuned son, "Nor'easter" boasts professional talent on both sides of the camera (Brotzman credits cinematographer Ian Bloom with capturing the icy beauty of a Maine winter), and the independently financed film is planned for a fall premiere -- with a little help. Brotzman is utilizing the "crowdsourcing" Internet site Kickstarter to raise the final $20,000 necessary to finish the film, an increasingly necessary strategy for indie filmmakers. "We raised the initial budget independently," he said, "but now we're facing those expenses that can't not be spent." (If you're reading this on Thursday, you've got until 9 p.m. tonight to donate to www.kickstarter.com/projects/brotzman/noreaster-a-feature-film-by-andrew-brotzman. Among other perks, a donation will net you a soon-to-be-available copy of the "Nor'easter" DVD.)

After that, Brotzman said, it's the festival route for "Nor'easter," and with luck, the rest of the world will experience the film's intense vision of high drama at the edge of Maine.


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