Troop greeters film to make Maine debut in Orono

Posted April 07, 2009, at 8:49 p.m.

It has been all over the country, from Texas to Cleveland to Philadelphia to Florida.

Now the completed version of an award-winning documentary film about the troop greeters at Bangor International Airport will be shown in Maine for the first time.

“The Way We Get By,” which was directed by Old Town native Aron Gaudet, will debut Thursday night at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine in Orono.

There will be four showings. The first, an invitation-only event for Maine Army National Guardsmen, their families, troop greeters and sponsors, will start at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Public showings will be held at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday.

Tickets to the Friday and Saturday shows are $7, free to military members. All seats are general admission.

“The Way We Get By” is the story of three local residents who have become deeply involved with the troop greeters since passing retirement age. All three have their own life struggles, which are portrayed in the movie, but continue to greet troops in part because of the boost it provides in their own lives.

The movie is not only about the troop greeters, it also is a commentary on aging in America.

For Joan Gaudet, Aron Gaudet’s mother and one of the troop greeters profiled in the film, it is also about watching her son’s progress as a filmmaker. Aron Gaudet is an Old Town High School graduate and a 1996 graduate of the New England School of Broadcasting, the forerunner of today’s New England School of Communi-cations in Bangor. Early in his career he worked as a camera operator at WVII-ABC 7 in Bangor.

“It’s wonderful. I’m excited. I never dreamed it would be something like this,” Joan Gaudet said in a statement. “I knew how much he liked to do this, but I never imagined how big it could be … that my son, from a little town in Maine — Old Town — it’s just amazing how well it has done … how good it has been. I’m proud of him. … It’s amazing.”

Joan Gaudet and fellow film subjects Jerry Mundy and Bill Knight, and Aron Gaudet and producer Gita Pullapilly will hold a question-and-answer session after each showing in Orono.

U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree also will attend the opening.

The movie has touched audiences and critics at various film festivals. “The Way We Get By” scored a Special Jury Award at the prestigious South by Southwest Film Festival last month in Austin, Texas; won the Audience Award at the Full Frame Documentary Festival in Durham, N.C.; and beat out 28 films at the Cleveland Film Festival to take the Greg Gund Memorial Film Competition, which recognizes films for their social conscience.

Film reviewer David Cornelius, who reviewed the movie at the South by Southwest Film Festival, called it a “touching, heartbreaking, inspiring, beautiful” documentary.

“The Way We Get By” was first shown in Maine last September as part of the Camden International Film Festival. At that point the movie was unfinished.

According to the film’s Web site, “The Way We Get By” will be screened on April 18 in Waterville as part of the “Lumina: AFI Project 20/20 in Maine” festival. Other future film venues include the Atlanta Film Festival, the Newport Beach Film Festival in California, the Stranger Than Fiction Film Festival in New York and the Hot Doc Canadian Film Festival in Toronto, which will be its international debut.

“The Way We Get By” is also one of eight documentary films recently selected to participate in the Producers Institute for New Media Technologies at the Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco. The institute helps filmmakers develop interactive media projects.

To purchase or reserve tickets to the Orono showings, call the Collins Center for the Arts box office at 581-1755. For more information about the movie, go to www.thewaywegetbymovie.com.

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