Still from “The First Coast,” one of the Maine-made short films playing Saturday on the Eastern Prom in Portland. Image courtesy of Timber & Frame

A night of Maine-made short films, hosted by a Maine film organization and shown outside on a (hopefully) lovely Maine night in one of Maine’s most picturesque outdoor locations? I’m genuinely trying to think of a more Maine movie experience than that. Maybe if you threw in a walk-by from a moose eating a whoopie pie.

Mainers will have all that and more (there will be Maine food trucks) to look forward to Saturday when the Maine Film Association and Friends of the Eastern Prom bring us Maine Movies on the Prom: Maine Shorts. Staring at 8:50 p.m. (in deference to those long Maine summer days), the fresh-air event will feature seven short films by Maine moviemakers, projected on a portable but sizeable silver screen (and appropriately audible speakers) on the rolling grass of the Eastern Promenade.

“It’s Maine – let’s get outdoors!” said Nick Callanan, Maine Film Association member and chair of its social outreach committee. Urging attendees to bring blankets, friends and a “legal beverage” or two (I’d add bug spray to the list, because it’s Maine), Callanan said the Movies on the Prom night represents just one more way the MFA is working to enhance Portland’s film scene. (Local filmmakers should check out the group’s workshop “Filmmaking & The Law: Protecting Yourself & Your Work” happening Thursday.)

“We’re looking to hold more screenings of Maine filmmakers’ work, and the Maine Movies on the Prom is a great example of that.” Callanan – also partner and founder of Portland’s No Umbrella Media and director of the Maine Outdoor Film Festival – cites the organization’s move outdoors as another way to provide more opportunities for Maine filmmakers and film viewers.

Saturday’s program of seven films includes short works by Maine moviemakers Jim Picariello (“This Time It’s Shopping”), Timber and Frame (“The First Coast”), Alex Sutula and Noah Bragg (“Shakespeare House”), Carlos Cuellar (“Mainers Meeting Mainers”), Lamia Lazrak (“Nina Fuller”) and Lone Spruce (“Air, Fire, Water”). In addition there’s “The Hermit,” directed by New York-based Lena Friedrich, but since the 23-minute documentary is about Maine’s infamous “North Woods Hermit,” that gets an automatic Maine pass.

“We were looking for recent films by Maine filmmakers or, like ‘The Hermit,’ connected to Maine events,” said Callanan. Noting that MFA received plenty of fine submissions for this initial lineup, he said these seven were chosen for their overall quality (and quality of Maine-ness), while still remaining relatively suited to a public, all-ages outdoor screening. Callanan said the program as a whole, which runs about 70 minutes, would fall somewhere in the PG to PG-13 range and should wrap up around 10 p.m. (“We wanted to be respectful of the neighbors.”)

As for the MFA’s plan to expand its offerings and programs, Callanan tells Portlanders to watch for an outdoor event on the last Saturday of every month this summer. On July 27, MFA and the Friends of the Eastern Prom (and screening series financial sponsors Three Rivers Whitewater) will show the Stephen King adaptation “Stand By Me.” (Hard to get more Maine than King, even if the beloved, Maine-set coming-of-age tale was filmed in Oregon.) Then, on Aug. 31, the group will present an evening of the finalists for this year’s Maine Outdoor Film Festival short films, with cash prizes and, like this Saturday’s event, appearances by many of the filmmakers and films’ subjects.

For the organizer Callanan, Movies on the Prom continues the tradition started by a fellow Portland nonprofit arts organization, MENSK, whose Eastern Prom film nights Callanan remembers fondly. “This is our first screening on the Eastern Prom,” said Callanan. (The MFA’s cold-weather events usually are held at the Portland Media Center.) “A lot of people always attended the screenings that MENSK put on and we wanted to be a part of continuing that tradition, but with all Maine-connected films. It’s all part of MFA’s mission to introduce great Maine films and filmmakers to Maine audiences.”

Sounds like a perfect night of Maine fun, so head to the Eastern Prom (“right under the statue,” said Callanan) at 8:45 p.m. Saturday for an evening of fresh and intriguing new Maine movies. (Oh, and being Maine and all, the program will move to Sunday at the same time in the case of rain.)

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.


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