Hurry up, Maine film fans — it’s not too late!

Of course, the real movie fanatics know what I’m talking about already. The 16th annual Maine International Film Festival kicked off last Friday, bringing its traditional blend of films from around the world (and right here in Maine) and illustrious guests culled from cinematic royalty.

Of all the Maine film festivals each year, this is the big one, the one true cineastes don’t want to miss.

Of course, you’ve missed some of it.

But for the unlucky filmgoer who hasn’t journeyed up to Waterville to catch the movies and events up ’til now — including appearances by acclaimed director Jonathan Demme and screen legend Keith Carradine (recipient of this year’s Mid-Life Achievement Award), and a big screen retrospective of the work of maverick director Robert Altman — take heart. There’s still plenty to see before the festival closes up shop for the year on Sunday. Especially if you’re looking for some Maine-made movie goodness.

“There’s Making It in Maine Day on Saturday,” explains MIFF programmer Ken Eisen about the festival’s annual second-week emphasis on Maine-made films. “It’s always on the second Saturday of the festival and nothing makes us happier than bringing in some really good Maine films.”

To that end, MIFF is once again hosting the Maine Student Film and Video Festival on Saturday, with two solid hours of short films from the state’s next generation of moviemakers, from kindergarten up through high school.

“It’s a great showcase,” enthuses Eisen, “and we try to program other Maine-centered films around it.”

That Maine programming includes sneak peaks of two Maine-made films-in-progress — Lena Friedrich’s documentary about the North Pond Hermit “Hermythology,” and a feature based on Donn Fendler’s autobiography “Lost on a Mountain in Maine” — as well as a nine-film program of Maine shorts.

Adding to MIFF’s Maine content are a number of high-profile films about which Eisen is especially excited. First up is “Bluebird,” a devastating drama about the consequences of a young woman’s tragic mistake for her small Maine town. Filmed entirely over one winter in Millinocket, the film stars such illustrious names as John Slattery (“Mad Men”), Margo Martindale (“Justified,” “The Americans”), and Adam Driver (“Girls”).

“It’s just tremendously good,” says Eisen, “uncompromising, serious, and not making any commercial concessions or taking away from its true integrity. Amazing, and we’re very, very happy to have it here. I wouldn’t want to see it in the middle of February though.”

Paired with “Bluebird” is a similarly stark and authentic Maine drama, the hunting-trip-gone-wrong tale, “The Guide.”

Eisen says, “It’s an incredible pairing with ‘Bluebird.’ All shot in Rangeley and Rumford — not the usual Maine locations. They have in common a real devotion to the realities of Maine life. Both first features and quite strong.”

Add to that a pair of Maine documentaries, the shipbuilding saga, “RawFaith” and a portrait of Saco outsider artist Al Carbee, “Magical Universe,” and I’d say MIFF has once again done every Maine film fan its annual service.

For a complete listing of the rest of this year’s roster, check out

Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.



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