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Dennis Perkins

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his lovely wife, the writer Emily L. Stephens, and their cat, Cooper. When not watching all the movies ever made or 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: June 16, 2014

Free movies under the stars: Rooftop Film Series with MENSK begins Sunday

Written by: Dennis Perkins
Photo courtesy MENSK

Photo courtesy MENSK

Sure, downtown Portland may not have a drive-in movie theater, but for a few weeks every summer, we’ve got our own walk-in, lay-out, watch movies under the stars experience, thanks to the annual Rooftop Film Series.

As ever, the summer tradition (sponsored by Portland non-profit arts organization MENSK) is a free, fun venue for Portlanders to hang out in the beautiful Maine summer evening and enjoy a nostalgic movie experience with their neighbors. Kicking off on Sunday at dusk (approximately 8:30 p.m.) on the top level of the Spring Street parking garage (45 Spring St.), the series begins with the enduringly enjoyable 1986 teen comedy “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” just the sort of entertaining flick the Rooftop Series is made for.

“We look for fun, interesting films, generally rated PG-13 or less,” says MENSK board member Patrick Roche. “Usually we take suggestions from Facebook or our website (menskmaine.org), make a list, and then throw in our own democratic process.” To that end, after the hedonistically irresponsible laughs of “Ferris Bueller” the series switches to squeals of delight and/or fright with Hitchcock’s “The Birds” on July 20th and the toothy entity of pure entertainment that is “Jaws” on Aug. 17. But don’t look for those latter two movies at the Spring Street site.

That’s right, MENSK is changing things up, bringing its second two films of 2014 to Congress Square Park for “The Birds” and the Eastern Promenade for “Jaws.” According to Roche, that’s part of MENSK’s evolving mission in the Portland arts community. “We’re branching out to new public spaces, looking to utilize public space for arts and entertainment,” Roche explains. “For example, Congress Square Park has been a very divisive issue – we’re looking forward to making good use of it for the public.” And MENSK has even bigger plans for the showing in August. “On the Eastern Prom, we’re looking to get a couple thousand people coming out,” says Roche. “There’ll be food trucks and a live performance before the sun sets.”

mensk_films

In addition to the features themselves, MENSK is continuing the tradition of choosing a short local film to precede each feature. Explains Roche, “That’s always been part of our mission – we believe in the local film industry and always want to support local filmmakers.” (Local hopefuls are encouraged to send their short films to the MENSK website for consideration – especially since, as Roche hints, the organization is mulling fall and winter film series as well.)

Roche recommends attendees use their Maine common sense and dress in layers for the drop in temperature and bring a lawn chair or a picnic blanket to sit on. (I’ll go ahead and suggest the bug spray.) There are rain dates scheduled if necessary, but lets all pray for a nice cool starry night for some free movie fun under the stars.

MENSK SUMMER FILM SERIES in Portland

8:30 p.m. June 22, Spring Street Garage, 45 Spring St.: John Hughes’ “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Rain date: June 29
8 p.m. July 20, Congress Square Park, corner of Congress and High streets: Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”
7:30 p.m. Aug. 17, Eastern Promenade: Steve Spielberg’s “Jaws”

For more on the Rooftop Film Series: www.menskmaine.org


COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS

FRONTIER, Brunswick (explorefrontier.com)

Friday and Sunday: “Under The Skin.” From the director of the excellent “Sexy Beast” comes this acclaimed and insane sci-fi thriller with sultry alien Scarlett Johansson seducing lonely Scotsmen and sending them into the bottomless void in her apartment. And then things get really weird.

PORTOPERA FILMFEST 2014 (portoperafilmfest.com)

Call for submissions! For the second year, PORTopera is holding a contest for student filmmakers. Cash prizes and a screening at a local theater await the aspiring filmmaker who can make the best short film based around the plot and music of a famous opera. It’s “Rigoletto” this year, and the deadline for submissions is Friday, June 27th. Check the website for rules.

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