“It’s not easy making a living making movies in Maine.”
That might seem like an understatement, or a complaint, but for Maine filmmaker Richard Kane, it’s a mission statement.
An acclaimed Maine filmmaker himself and a long-standing head of the Maine Film & Video Association (he recently handed over the reins to co-heads Alban Maino and Tom Handel), Kane has run the association’s Maine Short Film Festival since its inception in 2015. With 14 directors chosen to show their films, this year’s festival, which premiered in Rockland last month, is the biggest so far.
The short films are being shown at venues around the state through May, with the next stop at Portland’s SPACE Gallery on Saturday and Sunday.
For Kane, the festival is yet another way to show the world what outstanding work is being done by the Maine film community.
“The festival was created as an effort to develop audiences for Maine filmmakers’ works,” said Kane. “We at MFVA felt that, with a greater effort on our part, we could unearth some really terrific films that haven’t been receiving an audience, perhaps because these filmmakers haven’t had the time and energy to find audiences themselves.”
Watch the festival trailer
The rules for entering the festival are simple: Each short film must be about a Maine subject and/or by a Maine filmmaker. Kane notes that, in the festival’s three seasons, the number of films submitted for consideration have more than doubled, and that this year’s chosen 14 represent the festival’s strongest outing yet.
“Over the last three years, the filmmakers have really raised the bar,” said Kane. “Some have been in other festivals, while others are new discoveries. We’re happy either way — it only helps filmmaking in Maine get more and more exposure.”
Kane was kind enough to pick out just a few of this year’s films for special notice, starting with Portland director Corey Norman’s 90-second horror comedy, “Silence.”
“A man is watching a cooking show when his wife comes in and asks, ‘What are you doing?’ I’m not going to tell you what, but it’s a terrific surprise and very funny,” Kane said.
Daniel Kayamba’s “The First Kiss” is, according to Kane, a sensitive, kind of experimental story about a young man remembering his kiss, but from the perspective of him as an old man. “The director is a 17-year-old immigrant from the Congo, and it’s amazing to see such a young filmmaker, a new resident of Maine, do so well. He’s someone to watch,” Kane said.
Art Bell’s “To The Salton Sea” is inspired by the TV series “Breaking Bad,” said Kane, and the visually stunning road movie is all the more impressive for being shot entirely on an iPhone. “It’s shocking how good it looks,” he said.
“Guided,” by Bridget Besaw, shows Maine’s natural beauty from a very personal perspective, as Besaw interviews Maine wilderness guide Ray Reitze about his life living off the grid in the Maine woods. Said Kane, “It’s a philosophical and beautiful film.”
And those are just a handful of the 14 eclectic films in this year’s Maine Short Film Festival, all of which collectively clock in at right around 90 minutes. A short film festival is a win-win for audiences and filmmakers alike, allowing a single admission to view a broad sampling of talents.
Kane, who also cites the fact that half of this year’s films are from woman directors, encourages everyone to come out to support this uniquely Maine film experience.
“The festival is an appreciation of the art of filmmaking and of so many things about Maine,” he said. “This year’s festival celebrates our wilderness, boat-building, artists, nature — and the creativity of Maine’s writers and directors.”
The Maine Short Film Festival is screening at SPACE Gallery on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 or $8 for SPACE members, Maine Film & Video Aassociation members and students with ID. Visit the MFVA website, mainefilm.org, for the full schedule of Maine showings.
COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS
NICKELODEON CINEMA (Portland)
Friday: “Silence.” Martin Scorsese has been trying to bring this adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel – about a pair of Christian missionaries searching for their lost mentor in 17th-century Japan – to the screen for nearly three decades. Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson star in this sweeping historical epic now that Scorsese’s dream is a reality.
Thursday-Sunday: “Peter and the Farm.” This Vermont-set documentary follows aging farmer Peter Dunning as he ruminates on a life spent tending the same plot of land and alienating three wives and four children. It incorporates the arrival of the film crew as audience to his often grandiose pain.