Longtime attendees of Waterville’s Maine International Film Festival — this year set for July 13-22 with films showing at Railroad Square Cinema and the Waterville Opera House — know that the one thing they always can expect is an eclectic, surprising variety of features, documentaries and shorts. And though every year MIFF programs a number of made-in-Maine films, 2012 is special in that there are more Maine films than in any previous year.
“MIFF has always been committed to exhibiting films by Maine filmmakers, but never before have we had so many wonderful feature length films submitted in one year,” said MIFF executive director Shannon Haines. “We hope that this is a sign that the interest in filmmaking in the state is growing and will continue to grow.”
The Maine films are in addition to more than 80 other films from all over the world that will be shown. Some highlights include centerpiece film “The Oranges,” a ensemble comedy starring Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener and others that focuses on two neighboring families and their romantic and familial troubles. There’s also “Sal,” a biopic of writer Sal Mineo, starring James Franco, and “Searching For the Wrong-Eyed Jesus,” a musical documentary about alt-country singer Jim White, screened before a special performance by the artist himself.
Some of the foreign films to be screened include French Cesar nominee “The Painting Life,” an animated feature; “5 Broken Cameras,” a look at Palestinian and Israeli life by filmmakers Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi; “Chicken With Plums,” a French-Persian film directed and written by Marjane Satrapi, acclaimed for her graphic novel and subsequent animated film “Persepolis”; and “Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai,” directed by Japanese auteur Takashi Miike.
MIFF’s Mid-Life Achievement Award this year will be given to Thelma Schoonmaker, longtime cinematographer partner of Martin Scorsese.Schoonmaker has filmed everything from “Raging Bull” to “Hugo.” MIFF will show some of her films, including “Goodfellas” and “Kundun.” MIFF also will host the films of actress Karen Black — who appears in Maine-made MIFF film “VacationLand” — including “Five Easy Pieces” and “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.”
Individual tickets for screenings are $9; a partial pass is $85 for 10 screenings; a full pass is $200. For a full schedule, visit miff.org.
Maine-Made MIFF Movies
VacationLand; dir. Jamie Hook, screenings 6:30 p.m. July 13, Opera House; 3:30 p.m. July 14, Railroad.
A narrative feature starring Karen Black about several members — and one would-be member — of a scattered family who journey to the mountains of western Maine for a reunion that no one seems to know about, and find beauty, truth and a buried treasure of no particular worth.
Like The Water, dir. Caroline von Kuhn, written by Caitlin Fitzgerald, screenings 6:30 p.m. July 14, Opera House; 9:30 p.m. July 16 and 9 p.m. July 18, Railroad.
Charlie, a young journalist, returns to her hometown, Camden, to write the eulogy for her best friend, Katherine. Charlie’s assignment unearths deep feelings of guilt at not having been a better friend, which only fuel her longstanding resentment toward Katherine’s girlfriend.
Nor’Easter; dir. Andrew Brotzman, screenings 6:30 p.m. July 19, Opera House; 9 p.m. July 20 and 9:30 p.m. July 21, Railroad.
“Nor’easter” is the story of a young priest, Erik, who serves as the sole Catholic authority on Vinalhaven, who becomes involved in the investigation of a missing child who mysteriously returns to his family after five years.
The Eighteenth Hour; dir. Damien Veilleux; screening 9:30 p.m. July 18, Opera House.
Young Waterville director Veilleux crafts a story that follows the character of Carl Hersch, who must figure out where reality ends and a dream world begins, in this genre-bending film that’s part suspense, part sci-fi and part unique personal vision.
Hardwater; dir. Ryan Broad and Daniel Sites, screenings 6:30 p.m. July 21, Railroad; 3:30 p.m. July 22, Opera House.
This Maine documentary is a smart, sincere look at a group of unique characters, all of whom are Maine ice fishermen. It covers 10 counties, from Sebago to Long Lake, and explores everything from individual stories to greater issues of the environment and conservation.
Dreamcatcher; dir. John D. Ervin and Tina Wentzel, screenings 3 p.m. July 17 and 21, Railroad.
Combining traditional and unusual camera techniques to capture the emotional truth of a highly imaginative dance piece originally conceived and performed at Colby College in 1995; now reworked into a beautiful collage of filmic artistry and live performance.
Girl Model; dir. David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, screenings 12:15 p.m. July 14, 9 p.m. July 19, 6 p.m. July 20, Railroad.
A documentary from the folks behind the critically acclaimed Maine doc “Downeast,” this time exploring the lives of two Siberian fashion models living in Tokyo.
Flat Daddy; dir. Nara Gabler and Betsy Nagler, screenings 3 p.m. July 15 and 20, Railroad.
A documentary about military families using cardboard cutouts as temporary replacements for mothers and fathers serving overseas.
Maine Short Film program; multiple directors, screenings 6:15 p.m. July 13 and 3:30 p.m. July 21, Railroad.
Films included in this all Maine-made short film program include the sad, Maine-set “Baby Blue”; an animated short about the Maine coast called “Buoy”; Richard Kane’s latest artist profile “David Driskell: In Search of the Creative Truth”; whimsical animates short “From the Quotidian to the Universal”; horror short “The Horror from the Tumultuous Swamp of Creation,” a look at the multicultural denizens of a city park in Lewiston called “Kids of the World”; the short love story “La Fille Sans Coeur”; the suspenseful “Now You Know”; the creepy silent film “Ouija”; the lyrically experimental “The Search for Norumbega”; and “Stranded,” about a man who loses his cellphone after a crazy night.
Maine Student Film and Video Festival; screening at 12:30 p.m. July 21, Opera House.
Screening of all the films chosen from MIFF’s student film fest, open to Maine students under the age of 19.