The 14th annual Maine International Film Festival kicks off Friday and, as ever, organizers will bring both Hollywood royalty (this year it’s screen legend Malcolm McDowell and noted character actress Karen Young) and the traditional roster of stellar new and classic films from around the world.

There are almost 100 films on tap in this year’s MIFF. I’m offering up some titles that jumped out at me (and parenthetical descriptions of where they’re from). For tickets, go to miff.org.

“Another Earth”: MIFF’s closing-night film, this enigmatic sci-fi drama/romance about the discovery of a hidden, Earth-like planet in our solar system walked out of Sundance with an armload of awards and lots of buzz. 7:30 p.m. July 24

“The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye”: Fascinating, oddly touching documentary about former Throbbing Gristle musician/performance artist Genesis P-Orridge and his wife Lady Jaye, who underwent a series of cosmetic surgeries to more closely resemble each other in an act of extreme devotion/artistic weirdness. 9:15 p.m. Tuesday; 6 p.m. July 22

“Catching Hell”: If some guy at Fenway had instinctively reached out and snagged a ball in play that ended up costing the Red Sox the 2004 World Series, would I (the biggest Sox nerd on this, or another Earth), have hounded the poor guy out of town, harassed him and made his life a living hell? I’d like to think not, but this documentary about the fate that befell Cubs scapegoat Steve Bartman presents some pretty compelling evidence of how seemingly rational sports fans can lose their entire minds. 12:15 p.m. Saturday; 6:15 p.m. July 22

“The Conformist”: MIFF gives true film fans another gift with a newly restored print of this 1971 Bernardo Bertolucci classic about a weak-willed man (a brilliant Jean-Louis Trintignant) who joins the Italian Fascist movement for security, only to get roped into an assassination. 6:30 p.m. July 22; 3:30 p.m. July 24

“The Green”: A gay drama teacher finds his quiet existence thrown into turmoil when he’s accused of inappropriate behavior in this provocative drama with a great cast, including Cheyenne Jackson of “30 Rock,” Bill Sage, Julia Ormond, Illeana Douglas and MIFF special guest Karen Young. 9 p.m. Friday; 3:30 p.m. Saturday

“Luck, Trust & Ketchup: Robert Altman in Carver Country”: Robert Altman and Raymond Carver are two of my artistic idols. So this documentary about Altman adapting Carver’s short stories as the film “Short Cuts” is essential viewing for me. You guys should probably come too. 3:15 p.m. Sunday

“Quill”: This acclaimed Japanese drama about an adorable lab puppy becoming the guide dog for an irascible old man will turn you into a weepy heap of sniffling huggableness. Don’t try to resist it. 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 6:30 p.m. July 23

“Stella”: An episodic French drama about a streetwise young girl (a celebrated performance by 12-year-old Leora Barbara), whose hectic life above her parents’ bar and at a posh boarding school — and her unwillingness to knuckle under to either home’s chaos or her schoolmates’ snobbery — helps create one of the strongest female protagonists in years. 6:30 p.m. Saturday; 9 p.m. Sunday; 6:30 p.m. July 23

“Taxi Driver”: Sure, everyone’s seen it, but watching this 1976 Scorcese/DeNiro classic on the big screen should serve to remind everyone why this classic NYC-as-Hades thriller mesmerized us in the first place. 3:30 p.m. Sunday; 9 p.m. Monday

“World on a Wire”: MIFF unearths a long-lost (1973), typically bizarre and ahead of its time sci-fi film from legendary director Rainer Werner Fassbinder about a scientist discovering the existence of a massive conspiracy involving a virtual reality. It’s like an analog “Matrix,” made 25 years too soon. 6:45 p.m. Wednesday

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

 


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