July 17, 2013

Maine Hermit's story finds its way to big screen

A film festival audience in Waterville watches a brief clip from 'Hermythology,' a documentary-in-progress.

By JESSE SCARDINA Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE – Folklore and urban legends are as old as society itself.

click image to enlarge

In this April 2013 file photo, District Game Warden Aaron Cross exits Christopher Knight's camp Tuesday April 9, 2013 in a remote, wooded section of Rome after police inspected the site where Knight is believed to have lived since the 1990s. Knight is known as the North Pond Hermit.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

This combination photo shows Christopher Knight's 1984 Lawrence High School Year Book senior photo, left, and his booking photos from Tuesday, April 12, 2013.

While residents near supposed encounters with the Loch Ness Monster and Sasquatch can only carry on the myths passed down about their mysterious creature, frequenters of North Pond have the satisfaction of catching their urban legend: the North Pond Hermit, Christopher Knight.

At the Opera House on Wednesday night, roughly 500 viewers watched a 20-minute clip from the work-in-progress documentary "Hermythology," directed by Lena Friedrich.

Looking through the lenses of those who, according to police, were victimized by Knight throughout his 27-year stint isolated in the woods and the very, very few who supposedly interacted with the North Pond Hermit, the brief documentary offered unique perspectives on the lives he affected.

"I just felt unsafe," said one woman interviewed for the documentary.

"We used to speculate who it could be," said another woman interviewed for "Hermythology." In the short clip, Friedrich interviewed at least six people who had camps that had been burglarized or said they interacted with Knight. Also interviewed was a reporter from the Morning Sentinel, a songwriter who wrote a tune for Knight and a deli owner who named a sandwich after the hermit.

"It's all made from locally stolen ingredients," the deli owner said, "but it's not 27 years old."

"It's a 100 percent difference," said Donna Bolduc, referring to the atmosphere this summer compared to previous summers, when Knight wasn't in jail. Bolduc said she was seeing the film and has a camp on North Pond that was broken into by Knight at least three or four times per summer. "He totally knew when we'd leave. We'd find handprints on the bed from him crawling through the window. It's pure happiness now. He freaked us out."

Stacy Shoulta, a friend of Bolduc's who visited the camp often, said she had friends from Kentucky ask her whether she knew Knight.

"It had gone nationwide," she said. "My friends laugh and say it got a little personal once because he took beer from them."

The "Hermythology" documentary is just one of a number of Maine-based films being shown at the Maine International Film Festival. Following "Hermythology" was a 20-minute preview of the narrative story "Lost on a Mountain in Maine," directed by Ryan Cook and Derek Desmon, who both directed the documentary of the same name. Cook held a brief introduction before the preview was shown and answered some questions briefly after the showing.

Both films are scheduled to be shown again at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Opera House. Friedrich is expected to be there to discuss her documentary; and Donn Fendler, on whose experiences "Lost on a Mountain in Maine" is based, will be there as well.

Knight's story garnered worldwide attention after the 47-year-old told police he had lived in isolation in the woods, committing more than 1,000 robberies in 27 years and living off stolen goods from surrounding campsites. Knight said he had contact with only one person during his two-plus decades in the woods.

Knight is in custody at the Kennebec County jail, held in lieu of $25,000 bail, after being arrested April 4. He is being held on multiple charges of burglary and theft.

 

Jesse Scardina can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

jscardina@mainetoday.com

 

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