January 16, 2020
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Sanford International Film Festival names new director

Shawn P. Sullivan | York County Coast Star
Shawn P. Sullivan | York County Coast Star
Brian Boisvert is the new director of the Sanford International Film Festival.

SANFORD, Maine — There’s someone new in the director’s chair for the annual Sanford International Film Festival.

The committee that runs the festival met in December and unanimously appointed Brian R. Boisvert to the helm. Boisvert, a native of Sanford, has been involved with the festival — or SIFF, as it is known — since its second year. The festival, heading into its sixth year, will hit local screens this fall, from Wednesday, Oct. 16, through Saturday, Oct. 19.

“I’m really excited about leading SIFF in 2019,” Boisvert said earlier this week. “It’s one of my favorite events, and I’m looking forward to bringing some fantastic movies and a few fun surprises to Sanford this October.”

Boisvert succeeds James Harmon, the Sanford High School teacher who founded the festival in 2014 and served as its director during the past five years. Harmon officially announced the changing of the guard in a post on the festival’s Facebook page at the end of December.

“It’s been an amazing five years of experiences as the director of the Sanford International Film Festival, and now I’d like to pass the torch, and make space for new ideas,” Harmon wrote. “Please join me in welcoming my friend and film festival colleague, Brian Boisvert, to the captain’s chair!”

A lifelong film buff, Boisvert joined the festival in 2015. Since then, he has served as one of the judges charged with viewing the hundreds of films submitted from around the world and selecting which ones should be shown in Sanford. In later years, he added marketing and other responsibilities to his involvement.

“He knows this festival and this community, inside and out, and I have full faith in his vision and his ability to take this festival in the right direction,” Harmon said of Boisvert.

Earlier this week, Boisvert praised Harmon for his vision and leadership.

“James has done such an amazing job with this festival over the past five years,” Boisvert said. “He has built it into something that filmmakers from around the world all look forward to annually. Seeing familiar faces — both contributors and audience members — return year after year is a testament to his strong vision about the festival.”

The festival traditionally presents scores of films at such local venues as Smitty’s Cinemas and the Nasson Little Theatre, both on Main Street in Sanford-Springvale. The multiday event mixes short films and feature-length ones of assorted genres, made here in Maine, elsewhere in the country and around the world. The festival has attracted such special guests as Gunnar Hansen, who played Leatherface in the 1974 horror classic “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”; Anne Bobby, the star of the Clive Barker cult hit “Nightbreed”; and Loren Coleman, the president of the board of directors of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland. Each year, the festival concludes with an awards ceremony.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering for the festival is encouraged to contact Boisvert via e-mail at sanfordfilmfest@gmail.com. For more information about SIFF, visit www.sanfordfilmfest.com or the Sanford International Film Festival page on Facebook.

Boisvert offered a glimpse of what contributing filmmakers can expect for the sixth SIFF this fall.

“For 2019, we really wanted to find a way to reward all of the talented filmmakers that help make our festival such a great experience, so we’ve streamlined the awards categories and increased the cash prizes for winners,” he said.

The festival may be 10 months away, but the work on it is well underway, according to Boisvert.

“Our submission window opened on Jan. 1, and our judges have already begun viewing entries,” he said. “I’m sure that our movies this year will be every bit as inventive, fun and entertaining as we’ve shown for the past five years. We’re working on a few other surprises, too, so stay tuned!”

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