BAR HARBOR — An offbeat feature film created and produced on Mount Desert Island in 2013 premieres on an international stage this week.
“The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes,” which was created by College of the Atlantic film professor Nancy Andrews, is part of this year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival in The Netherlands. The fever-dream of a film is not part of the competition at the festival, but just being included in the event is a major milestone, Andrews said from her Bar Harbor home earlier this week.
“I’m probably one of two American films in my section. But from looking at the programming, were probably one of a dozen American films in total, which is awesome,” Andrews said. “Rotterdam is one of the top 10 festivals in the world, so I just feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it.”
The festival runs from Jan. 21 to Feb. 1 this year. Andrews’ film was scheduled to screen on Thursday, Jan. 22. Andrews and her partner, Dru Colbert, arrive in Rotterdam on Wednesday and will stay through the weekend. Andrews said it is the highest level festival she will have attended as a filmmaker.
While festival premieres often can act as a springboard for distribution deals, Andrews said that her film is so different from other feature-length pieces in so many ways, finding the right match will be a challenge.
“It’s a very unusual film. The genre is a combination of “Yellow Submarine,” “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Bride of Frankenstein” meets … I don’t know,” Andrews said. “So, it’s going to have to be someone who is willing to think outside of the box and use our imaginations to try to attract people to a movie that we can’t even describe.”
“Strange Eyes” is a hybrid of animation, found footage, songs, dance and live-action narrative that follows the research of Dr. Sheri Myes and her revolutionary attempts to expand human consciousness. The movie blends classic horror and mad-scientist movie scenes with elements of musical and experimental cinema.
Andrews has produced a number of short, experimental films, with her work collected in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been the recipient of many grant awards, including funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
“Strange Eyes” is Andrew’s first foray into feature-length filmmaking, and despite the difficulty of marketing such an offbeat piece, she has no plans to change her filmmaking vision anytime soon.
“I actually tried really hard with this film to fit my aesthetic into what I thought was a feature film arc. I sort of did that, and the next film I just want to kind of forget about that,” she said. “My next movie is going to be weirder.”
Andrews said that gaining an international premiere was a very important goal, with the United States premier a close second. After the film is picked up for a premier in this country, she said, she then will plan on a local unveiling. Were the film to show here first, it would be impossible to be picked up by a film festival, she said, thus limiting exposure.
“We can’t wait to show it here, but we have to wait to show it here,” she said. “And we are really looking forward to that, because the community here was a big part of the film.”
“I actually tried really hard with this film to fit my aesthetic into what I thought was a feature film arc.” – Nancy Andrews