After a bruising election season that’s left many uncertain about our country’s future — and will undoubtedly lead to heated political discussions around the Thanksgiving dinner table — it’s hard to feel like movies matter.
Well, I think movies do matter, and here are some of the things, looking back at 2016, that I’m genuinely thankful for in the Maine movie world. Here’s to hoping the good outweighs the bad in 2017.
– I’m thankful that Maine is a place for women filmmakers. The Bluestocking Film Series keeps on growing. In its sixth season back in July, the woman-centric festival expanded its number of venues, number of films and international participation. Check out its website, bluestockingfilms.com, for info and to see about getting your film into next year’s festival — as long as it passes the Bechdel Test.
– I’m thankful that Maine filmmakers are getting noticed nationally (and internationally). Derek Kimball’s excellent, uniquely Maine coming-of-age film “Neptune” was chosen for the Slamdance Film Festival and received great reviews.
– I’m thankful also, that Hollywood came to Maine. Apart from Portland’s own Kyle Rankin, who returned from his Hollywood home base to shoot the upcoming “The Witch Files” back in his hometown, Maine’s unique and varied charms lured plenty of filmmakers “from away.”
Maris Curran filmed the subtly devastating “Five Nights In Maine” in Phippsburg. And “The Congressman,” starring Treat Williams, made great use of the likes of Monhegan, Augusta and Rockland. Maine has a lot to offer filmmakers — who would be thankful if we passed some meaningful tax incentives.
– I’m thankful that The Movies On Exchange Street’s spirit lives on. In the flickering screenings of classics, art films and local fare, the people behind Kinonik/Low Motion (facebook.com/kinonikmaine) in the old Movies space make movie-going an event for Maine film fans. The screenings are sporadic, the walls and floor stripped bare; it’s like the Movies’ ghost reopened the space so it could live again.
– I’m thankful that video stores still exist. There are only a few, but Jet Video in Portland, Bart & Greg’s in Brunswick and River Bottom Video in Bath are all holding the line as places where movies are valued for more than just fleeting entertainment. Video stores are curated movie history — and it’s all waiting for you to discover it.
– I’m thankful that Maine’s film festivals just keep growing and bringing world cinema to us in such bounty that it makes our Thanksgiving table look positively scanty. To the Maine International Film Festival, Camden International Film Festival, Emerge Film Festival, Maine Jewish Film Festival, 48 Hour Film Project, Sanford International Film Festival, Bluestocking Film Series and all the rest I’ve forgotten or are still to come, thanks for making being a movie lover in Maine that much easier.
– Finally, thanks to all the Maine filmmakers I’ve gotten to know this year and every year since I started writing this column. Movies are an artful depiction of the everyday, and movies made by your neighbors show you your everyday in ways that make life that much more rich and interesting. At a time when life looks ugly and brutish a lot of the time, you look into the heart of things and always bring back wonder and something like hope that the world has some poetry left in it. Thank you. And happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS
Friday-Sunday: “18th Annual Animation Show of Shows.” PMA Films brings you this 96-minute showcase of 12 of the best family-friendly animated films of the year from all over the world.
Wednesday, Nov. 30. “Do Not Resist.” In a world that just got shaken up for civil rights activists, this documentary about the rapid militarization of America’s police forces might not be the balm they need right now. But, presented by ACLU of Maine Executive Director Alison Beyea, it’s also the sort of movie to get your righteous anger flowing again.