Student films rock the MIFF festival

by Bonnie N. Davis

The public screening and awards ceremony of the 39th Maine Student Film Festival, held on Saturday, July 16, at the Waterville Opera House, proved once again that Maine kids are not only talented, but also gifted in their ability to tell stories through film.

Jordan Bell, from Colby College Career Center, judged films and presented awards – he is also a filmmaker.  The three categories are narrative, documentary and creative films, with submissions from K-12.

Rebecca Conley

Rebecca Conley, digital and visual producer for MPBN, was one of the judges. Photo by Bonnie N. Davis

Rebecca Conley, the digital and visual producer for MPBN, presented Nichole Knight, a 2016 graduate from Richmond High School, with the MPBN student film award for the animated film, “Spring and the Storm.”  Conley and Bell both judges for the MPBN award.

“We loved the simplicity and beauty of this film.  The art was hand drawn by Nichole – it was amazing,” Conley said.  “It was a tough competition this year, but the simplicity of her message along with the music score were deciding factors.  This is the first time an animation won this award.  “Main Street” and “Vision” were the other films we considered.”

“I haven’t done anything as intensive before,” Knight said, sharing that her vision for this film came from the death of her father a few years earlier.  Knight made her first film at age eleven and never took a film class.  She credits her art teacher with purchasing an animation program that enabled her to create this masterpiece.  Heading off to NYU this fall, she plans to study film and TV programming.

Waterville’s Mid-Maine Technical Center had two student films receive honorable mention, Caitie Collier and Robbie Moore, for their documentary, “A Journey to Guatemala,” and Nicholas Shenett for his creative film “Let Me Set the Scene.”

Robbie Moore

Robbie Moore, along with Caitie Collier, students at Mid-Maine Technical Center, in Waterville, took honorable mention for a documentary. Photo by Bonnie N. Davis

The Huey Award winner, Noah Anderson, came from the narrative category, in the middle school division, with “The Wish” – he is home schooled and produced a thought provoking film.

“First a Boy,” by Emily Kaye of Marshwood High School, was a documentary finalist, and this was her second year receiving honors at the festival.  Her film about kids dealing with transgender transition was timely and poignant. However, Sam Marjerison of Yarmouth High School, won the documentary category with a delightful film, “Yarmouth Clam Bake.”  He interviewed local elders from a youthful perspective that was both informative and engaging.

The narrative receiving honorable mention for collaboration of Wagner Middle School students was “Half Upon a Time.”  Finalist Tyler Delargy of Bangor High School had an edited version of his film “Vision” in MIFF’s short program, “Maine Shorts 1.”  The winner of this category was Connor Petros from Ellsworth High School, for a moving pay-it-forward film, “Main Street,” which brought tears to many in the audience.

In the creative category, Adam Wendell-Pearson of King Middle School received honorable mention for “Eternal Trash” with hard-hitting data about human consumption leading to disposal that is out of control.  Yvonne DePerte of Fryeburg Academy, was a finalist with “The Silent World” – a post apocalypse film.

Jorgensen’s Café hosted a reception for these amazing artists.

Next year, make it a point to view these student films as part of the festival experience.

Waterville resident named to dean’s list at Dean College

Dean College, in Franklin, Massachusetts,  is has announced that Alexis DeVogt, of Waterville, has earned a place on the dean’s list for the Spring 2016 semester.

Maine International Film Festival 2016 has four days to go!

Text and photos
by Bonnie N. Davis

Opening Night

The 19th Maine International Film Festival ((MIFF) began last Friday evening, with the showing of “Seasons,” a film with beautiful photography about creatures from insects to birds and beasts who occupied the verdant primordial forests.

Shannon Haines

Shannon Haines, MIFF festival director, at Waterville Opera House on opening night.

Introductions this year were short and homey, creating an atmosphere of family gathering together for a reunion.  Uri Lessing, board president of the Maine Film Center, began the festival by giving credit where it is due – to MIFF director Shannon Haines, of Waterville.

“When she’s president in your community, your community grows,” Lessing said.

“The big news is that we have two honorees this year – an unprecedented occurrence for MIFF – with Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Robert Benton and Mid-Life Achievement Award honoree Gabriel Byrne,” Haines said.  “This is the 2nd Annual World Filmmaker’s Forum, which will include VJ Suave – pronounced sah-vay, not sauve – with films from Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil and South Africa.”

Robert Benton

Robert Benton accepts MIFF’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.

Haines thanked Waterville Creates for their generous grant as well as festival sponsors, the supportive community and volunteers.

Ken Eisen, MIFF program director and moving force behind Railroad Square Cinema, chooses about 100 films for MIFF each year from between 500 to 1000 submissions.  While some come from the official submissions process, most are from filmmakers, distributors and friends. Other selections are associated with special guests, award winners, with a few top restorations of great older films.

“Everyone has their own festival.  You cannot see all of the films.  Everyone is their own programmer,” Eisen said, encouraging people to view at least eight films that they would not usually chose.

“This year’s festival is dedicated to the wonderful Kathryn Altman, who’s been up (to MIFF) the past few years and who passed in March of this year,” Eisen said.  “Robert Benton, our Lifetime Award Winner, had his second film as a director, “The Late Show,” by Kathryn’s husband, Robert Altman.”

Short Delights

According to Karen Young, MIFF’s shorts programmer, short films are gaining popularity and the

Uri Lessing

Uri Lessing welcomed guests to the festival as if they were close friends and family, creating an intimate atmosphere.

category is growing.  This year, MIFF hosts a panel, “The Art of the Short Film,” on Saturday, July 16th at 11AM, at The Center, 93 Main St.

“Due to the abundance and exceptional quality of the Maine shorts submissions, there will be TWO programs of them this year,” Young said.  “Only four American shorts will be screened – they are in a program called “Crime Doesn’t Pay!” and are, as the title indicates, about crime – don’t bring the kids!  There will also be a “World Shorts Program” with entries chosen from seven countries.   These are not films about people sitting on a couch – you will know you are in that country.”

Check one of the broadsheets or go to to view times and venues for these fantastic short films.

“Make it your mission to come to at least one shorts program – you will not be disappointed,” Young said.

Festival Highlights

Robert Benton received the Lifetime Achievement Award last Sunday evening after a screening of “Nobody’s Fool, starring Paul Newman, with a host of other familiar faces, including Jessica Tandy – it was her last film.  Benton was both screenwriter and director.  Other Benton films include “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Places in the Heart,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Superman” and “The Late Show.”  On hand to present the award was Maine’s own Richard Russo, author of “Nobody’s Fool.”

“We’ve worked on several films together,” Russo said of Benton.  “As a film maker, he’s a national treasure.”

“Now you know why Richard Russo is one of our greatest fiction writers,” Benton said.

Gabriel Byrne is this year’s Mid Life Achievement winner.  The Dublin born actors’s films include, “The Usual Suspects,” “Miller’s Crossing,” “Jindabyne” and “Louder Than Bombs.” His award ceremony will be held at the Waterville Opera House on Friday, July 15, 6:30PM with a screening of “The Usual Suspects.”

Another festival highlight is the 39th Maine Student Film and Video Festival, held on July 16, at the Waterville Opera House.  This venue is free.

“I hope visiting filmmakers and directors will support this festival to give students encouragement and advice,” Huey said.  He is the force behind the student film festival.

Closing night ceremonies are at the Waterville Opera House, beginning at 7:00PM with the showing of “Little Men,” followed by a party at Mainely Brews.

Something Edgy

As a final note, MIFFONEDGE will be extra edgy this year focusing on animation, according to Haines.  Visit the last three days of EDGE at Common Street Arts on 93 Main Street between 2-9PM this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Pelletier named to dean’s list at Lebanon Valley

Kaitlynn Pelletier, of Waterville, was named to the dean’s list for the spring semester. Dean’s list students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.4 out of 4.0.

Pelletier, a graduate of Messalonskee High School, in Oakland, is pursuing a bachelor of science, bachelor of arts in music education and music at The Valley.

Caruso on dean’s list at Lehigh University

Dean’s List status, which is awarded to students who earned a scholastic average of 3.6 or better while carrying at least 12 hours of regularly graded courses, has been granted to Zachary Caruso, of Waterville, in the Fall 2016 semester, at Lehigh Univeristy, in Bethlehem Pennsylvania.

Colby College students named to dean’s list

Area students were named to the dean’s list at Colby College, in Waterville, for their outstanding academic achievement during the spring semester of the 2015-16 year. Twenty-four percent of the student body — 452 students – qualified for Colby’s dean’s list this semester by earning a semester grade point average of 3.75 or higher.

Caitlin R. Farrington, of South China,  a member of the class of 2018, attended Erskine Academy. She is the daughter of Neil and Doreen Farrington, of South China.

C. William Qualey IV, of Norridgewock,  a member of the class of 2016, attended Skowhegan Area High School. He is the son of Charles and Patricia Qualey, of Norridgewock.

Area residents graduate from Colby

Area residents were among 504 seniors who graduated from Colby College, in Waterville, Maine, on May 22, receiving bachelor of arts degrees.

James R. Cornell, of Jefferson,  attended Laguna Blanca School and is the son of Martha Elliott, of Jefferson, and James Cornell, of Unionville, Pennsylvania. Cornell majored in studio art.

Ethan F. Johnson, of Skowhegan, attended Skowhegan Area High School and is the son of Jeffrey Johnson, of Skowhegan, and Patricia Gower of East Madison. Johnson majored in environmental policy.

Ethan F. Johnson, of Skowhegan, attended Skowhegan Area High School and is the son of Jeffrey Johnson, of Skowhegan, and Patricia Gower of East Madison. Johnson majored in environmental policy.

Olivia S. Thurston,of Waterville, attended Waterville Senior High School and is the daughter of James and Deborah Thurston, of Waterville. Thurston majored in psychology and art.

C. William Qualey, IV of Norridgewock, attended Skowhegan Area High School and is the son of Charles and Patricia Qualey, of Norridgewock. Qualey majored in history and German studies.

Dance group chooses new officers

The Central Maine Square Dance Club of Waterville held its annual meeting on June 24. The evening started with a shortened square dance workshop and and the meeting starting around 7:45 p.m. An election of officers for the coming year took place and the following people were elected: Al Mather, of Palermo, president; Jeff Howes, of Pittsfield, vice presi-dent; Karen Cunningham, of Pittsfield, secretary; and Claude Francke and Diane Weinstein, both of Waterville, treasurers.

The fall workshops will begin for the club on September 13 and a new beginner class will start on September 20. As usual the club will allow two free lessons for beginners on the 20th and 27th.

Central Maine Square Dance Club of Waterville

The new officers of the Central Maine Square Dance Club are, from left to right, Claude Francke, Al Mather, Jeff Howes, Karen Cunningham, and Becky Potter. Contributed photo

Bridging ceremony held for scout troop

During a Bridging ceremony recently, Girl Scouts of Troop #1557, in Waterville, seven junior Girl Scouts received their bronze awards. Also, the troop welcomes three girls into the Cadette level.

Girl Scouts of Troop #1557, in Waterville

Photo by Alex Blomerth, Central Maine Photography staff