Spring is finally here, which means that we in Maine have had just about enough of snow, slush, sleet and freezing anything, thank you very much. However, Mainers also know just how lucky we are to have the ability to play around in the uniquely beautiful winter wonderland our state becomes every year, at least until we have to dig our cars out for the 10th time and wonder why we haven’t moved to Hawaii yet.
But there’s still a cozy, slush-free way to appreciate Maine’s seasonal, outdoorsy fun from the comfort of your own home and computer, as the Maine Outdoor Film Festival’s annual Winter Broke and Stoked Video Contest is up and running. While the festival itself takes place every September, the last three years have seen those snow-happy film fanatics offering Maine filmmakers a chance to show their wintertime stuff in the great Maine outdoors – and maybe become a little less broke.
Broke and Stoked has selected 10 short films out of the dozens of submissions to this year’s contest to race against each other in an online poll where the public (that’s you) gets to decide which team of intrepid Maine filmmakers best captured all the best things about chilly Maine thrills. The prize: a suitably cool $1,000 from Maine Outdoor Film Festival sponsor Sugarloaf.
“We’re really proud to be able to put out some quality work. We had to turn away some really good films, mainly because they’d be more suited to our summer program,” festival director Nick Callanan said of this year’s contestants.
The rules for filmmakers (apart from not breaking anything while careening down a hill with a GoPro strapped to their helmets) are simple. “The film has to be made by a Mainer, has to be less than four minutes long, the filmmakers have to credit all the production staff and have rights to the music used. And it has to be an outdoor film,” Callanan said.
This year’s Broke and Stoked filmmakers have taken that “outdoor film” idea and, well, skied with it. And tobogganed. And snowboarded. And even kayaked.
“The people who started (the festival) are all white water kayakers,” said Callanan. “Kayaking is really a 12-months-a-year sport.” (Huddling with a nice hot coffee by my laptop, I’m willing to take his word for it.)
This year’s 10 finalists are all up on the festival’s website waiting for viewers to watch and rate. The online voting goes until 10 p.m. on Friday, with the winner getting that $1,000 check, so get voting. (The entire program of short films will only take about 35 minutes to view.) For Maine filmmakers, your support can make a lot of difference, especially since, as Callanan said, so many young, aspiring movie-makers are involved in this year’s Broke and Stoked.
“Being our third contest, we’ve attracted a nice mix of backgrounds,” he said. “Out of the 10 finalists, six are high school teams, and they did amazing work. Some of these kids are going to be working in film. One is about a sponsored athlete, one director has his own video production company. It’s a great mix of athletes, aspiring athletes, and aspiring and established filmmakers.”
The Maine Outdoor Film Festival is all about bringing filmmakers together to celebrate Maine’s natural wonders, a mission that Callanan says is showing results. “We want to be an outlet for Maine outdoor filmmakers, and to bring Maine outdoor films to where they’re at.”
To that end, screenings of the September festival are held around the state, from right here in Portland to places as far-flung as Rangeley, Bethel, Skowhegan, Bangor, Camden and The Forks, which is where the festival began.
“We donate to the program Teens to Trails, too, which gives cash grants for high school outing clubs,” Callanan said. “We’re a drop in the bucket, but there are a lot of forces pushing kids indoors these days. Some of the young filmmakers involved in this year’s Broke and Stoked are kids who have seen our program in their town in the past. The fact that they can see what we and other filmmakers are doing right in their own town makes a difference.”
The Broke and Stoked Video Contest is live until 10 p.m. on Friday at the Maine Outdoor Film Festival’s website, maineoutdoorfilmfestival.com/brokeandstoked. So log on from your nice, warm house and vote for those brave souls who best expressed the rugged joys of a Maine winter.
COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS
PORTLAND PUBLIC LIBRARY
Thursday: “Phoenix.” The Library’s Holocaust Film Series continues with this spellbinding 2015 thriller about a disfigured woman (Nina Hoss) returning undercover to post-WWII Berlin to find out if her lover is the one who’d sent her to Auschwitz. Free screening.
Friday: “Kiki.” Exuberantly entertaining, ultimately inspiring documentary about LGBTQ young people of color in New York City who have created a vibrant underground ballroom dancing scene. Presented by Space and Portland Outright, with a portion of the proceeds going to the charity For Us, By Us (patreon.com/forusbyus).