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Strand postpones its screenings

Bicentennial 'Maine in the Movies' showcases films set around state

Feb 26, 2020
"The Iron Giant" (1999, USA).

STATEWIDE — More than 80 motion pictures have been set in Maine since the first in 1910. To celebrate the state’s Bicentennial, the Maine Film Center (MFC) and 19 other arts and education organizations and independent cinemas have joined together to present "Maine in the Movies," a 17-city festival of 35 films set in Maine, screening March 5 through 15 throughout the state. Twelve films representing 20 Academy Award nominations will show at five Midcoast locations: Belfast, North Haven, Rockland, Waldoboro and Damariscotta.

“Maine is a state of mind and imagination whose enigma and beauty have, from the very beginning, inspired writers, visual artists, and their natural descendants, filmmakers,” said Mike Perreault, MFC executive director. Maine in the Movies will showcase screenings for all ages; some accompanied by discussions with knowledgeable guests.

Over the course of the festival, audiences will see an expansive, sometimes unfamiliar, often surprising vision of Maine: fanciful and funny in some cases; down to earth and culturally revealing in others. A perfect example of the latter is Academy Honorary Award recipient Frederick Wiseman’s epic portrait of "Belfast, Maine" (1999).

“We're lucky such a great filmmaker as Fred Wiseman chronicled our community two decades ago, so all who view the film now can better know what's transpired here since," said Mike Hurley, owner of Belfast’s Colonial Theatre, where the film will play Saturday, March 7.

Among the festival’s films are those from the earliest days – "Jean the Match-Maker" (1910) and "Way Down East" (1920) – to the most recent – "The Lighthouse" (2019) and "Blow the Man Down" (2019) – as well as classic dramas, family movies, thrillers, fantasies, musicals, and comedies like "Peyton Place" (1957), "Andre" (1994), "Dolores Claiborne" (1993), "Aquaman" (2018), Rodgers & Hammerstein’s "Carousel" (1956), and "How to Marry a Millionaire" (1953), the first film made in the CinemaScope process that ushered in the wide-screen era.

Most were based on literary works, including many by such famous Maine authors as Stephen King ("The Shawshank Redemption" [1994]), Laura E. Richards (Shirley Temple’s "Captain January" [1936]), Richard Russo ("Empire Falls" [2005]), Elizabeth Strout ("Olive Kitteridge" [2014]), and E. B. White ("Charlotte’s Web, [1973 and 2006]).

The following schedule includes Midcoast screenings only:

Saturday, March 7

10 a.m. “The Iron Giant” (1999)*; Colonial Theatre, 163 High St., Belfast

Introduced by Chris Van Dusen. All Colonial films co-presented with Waterfall Arts.

1 p.m. “Belfast, Maine” (1999); Belfast Colonial Theatre

Video introduction by Frederick Wiseman.

7 p.m. “The Man Without a Face” (1993); Belfast Colonial Theatre

7:30 p.m. “Tumbledown” (2015); Waterman’s Community Center, 12 Main St., North Haven

Sunday, March 8

2 p.m. “Bambi”* (1942); Lincoln Theater, 2 Theater St., Damariscotta

Introduced by Andy O’Brien.

Wednesday, March 11

7 p.m. “How to Marry a Millionaire” (1953); Damariscotta Lincoln Theater

Friday, March 13

2 p.m. “The Whales of August” (1987); Damariscotta Lincoln Theater

7 p.m. “Carousel”* (1956); Medomak Valley High School, 320 Manktown Road, Waldoboro; co-presented by The Waldo Theatre.

Saturday, March 14

7:30 p.m. “Deep Waters”* (1948); North Haven Waterman’s Community Center

POSTPONED 7:30 p.m. “In the Bedroom” (2001) – 35MM; Strand Theatre, 345 Main St., Rockland

Sunday, March 15

POSTPONED 1 p.m. “Captain January”* (1936); Rockland Strand Theatre

POSTPONED 3 p.m. “Peyton Place” (1957) – 35MM; Rockland Strand Theatre

Introduced by Willard Carroll with “On Location in Peyton Place.”

* Playing with “Jean the Match-Maker” (1910, 13 minutes).

Premiere of 75th Anniversary Restoration Starts Festival

Opening the festival March 5 at Waterville Opera House is the premiere of the Academy Film Archive / 20th Century Fox 75th anniversary restoration of “Leave Her to Heaven” (1945), based on the novel by Ben Ames Williams, the prolific writer who lived in Searsmont and set many of his best-known works in the state. Before the screening, Tim Williams will discuss his grandfather’s literary legacy and life in Maine.

Two Classics Animate Maine

“Few people know about all the movies set in Maine or how they’ve depicted the state's unique qualities,” Perreault said. “For example, most are surprised to learn ‘Bambi’ is a Mainer.”

Two animation classics merge in a Maine meadow in a memorable scene from "The Iron Giant" (1999) when the massive alien encounters a tiny fawn, an allusion to “Bambi” (1942) by “Giant” director Brad Bird, a devoted disciple of Disney’s legacy.

Damariscotta artist Maurice “Jake” Day worked at Disney during the film’s development and interceded with Walt Disney to transfer the Black Forest setting of Austrian writer Felix Salten’s novel to the Maine North Woods. Disney sent Day back to his home state to sketch and photograph the landscape, vegetation, and animals of Baxter State Park for reference in the film’s design. But Maine’s other connections to the film don’t end there, which The Free Press writer Andy O’Brien will reveal at the March 8 screening in Damariscotta.

In transposing “The Iron Giant” to America from the book’s original UK setting “Maine seemed perfect because (director Brad Bird) wanted an area that felt remote and wild enough for a giant robot to be able to hide,” said Allison Abbate, the film’s producer and now executive vice president of Warner Animation Group. “We also took an amazing research trip before we started production and fell in love with the wild and untamed landscapes we saw as we traveled down the coast.”

Vampires in Bucksport

“We know a lot about Maine movie history,” said David Weiss, executive director of Northeast Historic Film, “but until we started preparing for this event I admit we didn’t know that Bucksport is the model for Collinsport,” vampire Barnabas Collins’ home in the cult ’70s television series “Dark Shadows.” The first of several feature-film spinoffs, “House of Dark Shadows” (1970) will screen at Bucksport’s Alamo Theatre March 12.

World’s Most Famous Dog Came from Maine

Weiss continued, “However, we did know a lot about Maine’s oldest narrative movie, ‘Jean the Match-Maker,’ featuring the first certifiable animal movie star: Jean, the Vitagraph Dog. Before Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, and Toto, Eastport-born Jean was the most famous dog in the world. She and her owner, trainer, and eventual director – Robbinston native Laurence Trimble – made 25 silent films together.”

“Jean the Match-Maker” was thought lost until a print was discovered in the New Zealand Film Archive and restored by the Library of Congress. A new musical score has been commissioned from Los Angeles-based composer Mikel Hurwitz specifically to accompany the film’s 15 screenings across the festival’s schedule.

For more information on Maine in the Movies, including a full schedule of screenings and tickets sold through individual venues, visit mainemovies200.com.

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