Maine is cresting into spring and summer (please don’t get mad if this jinxes things), and that means rebirth, renewal and a whole lot more activity on the Portland indie film slate.

We’ve got some good stuff coming to town in the next three weeks, and this special edition column is going to stand spotlight over it all.

Well, maybe not all; I can’t fit such a big guy into such a small suitcase, metaphorically speaking, but I will highlight the best of the best. As they say, suit up, strap in and hold on.


Monday: “Big River Man.” Apparently, next week is Earth Week, and Space is celebrating with this quirky documentary. Subject: Martin Strel, a Slovenian endurance swimmer who has navigated the Mississippi, the Danube and the Yangtze. Setup: See if he can survive a trek down the Amazon. Success rate: Unlikely. Werner Herzog would love this flick.


April 30: “North Face.” This film about Nazi mountaineers leaves much to be desired. Whenever it focuses on the death-defying efforts of its leads, it is pretty gripping. There aren’t enough good non-documentary efforts about mountain climbers, so I appreciate what little I can get. That said, too much time is spent on various non-mountain-related romantic entanglements. It’s a big distraction. However, this screening demands your attention regardless. It comes accompanied by a Q&A with climber Ed Webster, one of the few men to scale Mount Everest and survive. www.eveningstar


Today: “The Good Life.” We’re three-for-three now with nature cinema, and this one is, by far, the most nail-bitingly intense. It’s a documentary on the practice and philosophy of fly-fishing. Warning: the first three rows of the theater WILL GET WET!

Monday to April 27: “The White Ribbon.” I’ve received a lot of flack for my earlier review of Michael Haneke’s anti-thriller. People say I missed the point, that I didn’t get what Haneke was going for with his deliberate, menacing pace. My retort: I was picking up what Haneke was putting down. I just didn’t care. Also, there’s a big gap between “deliberate” and “suicide-inducingly boring.” Keep that in mind when you watch the film.


Friday to Sunday: “The Secret of Kells.” The big “Huh?” nominee of the Academy Awards’ best animated film category. I confess I felt the same way until I saw it. What a lively piece of work this is! It’s thoroughly steeped in Irish folklore and mysticism, but it never feels too “inside baseball.” The film is engaging, funny and beautifully animated.


Today and Sunday: “Crimson, White & Indigo.” On one hand, this Grateful Dead concert film is just a calculated cash-in on the upcoming LP release of the same name. On the other hand, it’s still live Dead footage showcasing the pinnacle of the band’s late-career resurgence. It’s hard to say “no” to that.

Josh Katz is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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