Maine is seldom a state that draws attention from the national and international community, but Moviemaker Magazine and Filmmaine have teamed up to make the state a film mecca in October. From Oct. 10-14, Maine will host the Portland Festival of World Cinema.
Moviemaker Magazine was started by Maine native Timothy Rhys as a vehicle to cover independent filmmaking. Rhys moved some of the magazine’s operations to Portland a few years ago. Filmmaine, a newly formed organization, was established to attract year-round film production and post-production to the state.
The primary purpose of the festival, according to the festival’s mission statement, is to “establish Portland as an important center for filmmaking and film appreciation.”
A number of films and panel discussions will take place over the course of the festival. Awards will be presented at the end and the first John Ford Lifetime Achievement Award will also be handed out.
The offering will be diverse, from contemporary feature films and shorts to classics to panel discussions.
One of the more interesting films to be presented is “Jackpot,” the new film by Mark and Michael Polish. The story involves a wannabe country singer (Jon Gries) and his manager, played by Garrett Morris. The unique aspect of this film is that it is the first picture to demonstrate Sony’s new 24p HD camera. The digital filmmaking process is promoted as looking just as good as regular 24 frames per second film. The Polish brothers’ film will beat the behemoth “Star Wars: The Attack of the Clones,” which is eight months from release, as the first to use the technology.
The Polish brothers are best known for their unusual film “Twin Falls, Idaho,” which involves conjoined twins. The directors, who are themselves identical twins though not conjoined in real life, starred in the film.
The festival will also present such classic films as Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity”, Samuel Fuller’s “Pick-up of South Street,” and “The Bicycle Thief.”
Despite a predominance of art films, not all will be completely serious, as a special showing of “Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV” will also show at the festival. Writer-director Lloyd Kaufman will be on hand to present the film. Kaufman is president of New York City’s Troma Pictures, which produces the Toxic Avenger movies. The series features a character severely deformed by exposure to toxic waste who has become a vigilante against toxic bad guys.
Another interesting addition to the festivities is a program called “World Cinema for Kids,” which will showcase some better known children’s foreign films, including “The Red Balloon,” (1956).
Among the roster of filmmaking discussion panels will be one on starting independent film production, documentary filmmaking and cinematography. There will also be a five-person panel on the legacy of John Ford, Portland’s native directorial star. Ford was best known for movies such as “Stagecoach” and “The Searchers.”
The festival will also see the first presentation of the John Ford Lifetime Achievement Award. The award will be presented to documentarian Albert Maysles who is best known for his film “Gimme Shelter” (1970), which documented the infamous free Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont Speedway. The concert led to chaos in the wake of the stabbing murder of one of the concert goers by the Hell’s Angels, who were hired at the concert as cheap security. The documentary will be shown after presentation of the award.
The Oscar nominated Maysles has created films on such subjects as the Beatles, Vladimir Horowitz, Marlon Brando, John F. Kennedy, and Truman Capote. In 1998 Maysles was awarded the President’s Award from the American Society of Cinematographers.
Maysles also won the documentary cinematography prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for “Lalee’s Kin: The Legacy of Cotton.” He won the same prize in 1991 with “Christo in Paris.” Other Maysles films to be shown at the festival include “Salesman” (1969).