It’s film festival time again, Maine film fans!

Nope, not KahBang, which wrapped up its inaugural film season last week.

Finally, it’s Portland’s turn.

Beginning today and running through Saturday, the Portland Maine International Film Festival ( joins the robust Maine festival circuit, thanks to founder and organizer Tyler Johnston. A Maine native and former USM student, Johnston had volunteered at the Santa Cruz Film Festival for several years when he decided that Portland deserved a film fest to call its own.

So he made some calls.

With advisory help from Julian Soler, the Santa Cruz programming director, and the participation of screening venues Frontier Cafe and Cinema in Brunswick (, Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland ( and indie film mainstay Space Gallery (, also in Portland, Johnston has lured an eclectic inaugural crop of films to southern Maine, including:

“Machotaildrop”: An oddball comedy fantasy about an avid skateboarder discovering dark, loopy secrets about the skate company he idolizes.

“One Hundred Mornings”: A creepy Irish end-of-the-world drama about two young couples trying to survive the unexplained collapse of civilization.

“Erasing David”: Documentarian David Bond reveals how much governments and corporations have on us when he tries to go into hiding “off the grid” and hires two detectives to try and find him.

“Multiracial Identity”: A documentary about the growth of the multiracial movement and the fact that the fastest-growing demographic in America has no official governmental recognition.

“The Westsiders”: A doc about the birth of the titular, infamous Santa Cruz, Calif., surf gang.

“The Grover Complex”: An indie comedy about an average guy dealing with unrequited love, film school and the fact that he’s got a really small member.

“The Wild Hunt”: Another average guy finds himself in over his head when he attempts to win back his fantasy-obsessed girlfriend from the live-action role-playing event she’s attending.

And while Johnston concedes that PMIFF’s first lineup can’t boast any Maine-made movies, he chalks that up to the difficulties of publicizing a fledgling event. He has organized a panel at Salt on Friday titled “The Future of Filmmaking in Maine,” featuring Maine filmmakers, educators and, in the case of USM film professor and filmmaker Kate Kamiski, both.

His goals for PMIFF (in addition to adding a Maine film category) are to “promote Portland as a film hotspot” and to “inspire Maine filmmakers” and lure the international film community to Portland.

And the Maine film community continues to grow


Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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