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Dennis Perkins

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives on the West End with his lovely wife Emily, where they watch all the movies ever made. When not digging up stories about the Maine film scene, he can be found writing for the AV Club and elsewhere. The rest of the time, he's worrying about the Red Sox.

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Posted: December 8, 2015

14 shorts from Maine filmmakers at Maine Short Film Festival in Rockland

Written by: Dennis Perkins
Mauricio Handler is amongst the top echelon of underwater photographers in the world. He’s been living in Maine for ten years in Durham.

Mauricio Handler is amongst the top echelon of underwater photographers in the world. He’s been living in Maine for ten years in Durham.

Short films have a hard time finding an audience, which is why a short film festival is a great place to support a group of talented filmmakers all at once. The Maine Short Film Festival, having its world premiere on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Strand Theatre in Rockland, boasts a lineup of 14 shorts from Maine filmmakers. Now in its second year, the festival, presented by the Maine Film & Video Association, differs from other similar shorts festivals, in that the filmmakers whose films were chosen are all working professionals in the Maine film industry. (All entrants must be dues-paying MFVA members.) It’s an important distinction, according to MFVA chair and filmmaker Richard Kane (whose short documentary “The Raw Essence of Carlo Pittore” was selected as part of this year’s festival).

“Maine has a great grouping of film festivals,” states Kane, “They’re top-notch, and just getting better and better. But I’ve found that the short films were not as strong as I would like. It occurred to me that there a lot of great short filmmakers in Maine – they’re attracted to Maine, the landscape, the environment. So why aren’t there a lot of really exceptional shorts in film festivals? So I started calling all the people I know who are really good filmmakers and asking, ‘What do you got?'”

Begun last year, the Maine Short Film Festival has grown in its second season, attracting 42 submissions (compared to 27 in its inaugural run), and playing at ten Maine movie theaters this year, compared the first year’s nine. “The more that this gets into peoples minds,” explains Kane, “the more filmmakers will recognize it’s something valuable to their films.” The MSFF tour will travel the state until April following its Friday premiere in Rockland – next up, look for it to screen at Portland’s SPACE Gallery on January 7th.

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This year’s films, according to Kane, represent the widest possible cross-section of Maine filmmakers and genres, offering an eclectic, challenging night at the theater. The winning films were chosen by the impressive three-person jury of Louise Rosen (Maine Jewish Film Festival), Ben Fowlie (Camden International Film Festival), and Portland Press Herald art critic Daniel Kany, and, as Kane asserts, represent the talents of some of Maine’s best working filmmakers.

“My greatest interest as part of MFVA is in serving the membership,” states Kane. “One way to do that is to help them develop an audience. Most film festivals are looking for independent shorts. We’re interested in that, too, but many of our members make these films for clients. They’re professionals. Just because they’re made for a client doesn’t mean they’re not creative – plus, having a bigger budget means they can do more things with it. Our membership includes people from all ends of the filmmaking spectrum.”

To bear out his assertion, Kane points to the merits of MSFF entries as disparate as Mauricio Handler’s “Bonaire,” a stunning nature film originally produced for Dutch Caribbean National Parks’ environmental awareness campaign, and Corey Norman’s terrifying horror short “Tickle.” Kane goes on to sing the praises of Marie Chao and Matthew Siegel’s psychological thriller “Fever” right alongside Walter Ungerer’s experimental portrait of Portland’s cityscape “I Just Don’t Get It – It’s My Russian Soul,” and Sharyn Paul Brusie and Kevin Brusie’s “Heart And Hand,” a loving portrait of a farmer and his animals. Says Kane, “It’s a powerful group of films, and very entertaining – some funny, some scary, some deep.”

The Maine Short Film Festival joins the ever-growing Maine film scene as another place for Maine filmmakers to find a home – and an audience. For the full schedule and roster of films, check out the Maine Film & Video Association’s website mainefilm.org.

Maine Short Film Festival

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Friday
WHERE: The Strand Theatre, 345 Main St., Rockland
HOW MUCH: $8.50 adults, $7.50 seniors, $6.50 under 12 and MFVA Members
MORE INFO: rocklandstrand.com and mainefilm.org

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