BAR HARBOR — The 7th Annual Maine International Film Festival By-the-Sea is coming to Reel Pizza Cinerama this weekend.
Screenings start on Friday, Sept. 18. Both theaters at Reel Pizza will be abuzz with activity.
Offerings will help viewers travel to cooler climes, like Barrow, Alaska, northern Quebec or the top of Mount Everest. Or perhaps visiting Kurdish Turkey or Cambodia without actually going there is more appealing. Alternatively, maybe time travel sounds intriguing, like to North Africa during WWI or Estonia in the 1940s. This is all possible at MIFF By-the-Sea.
Some of the films being screened were shot right here in Maine, from the western mountains, out on Monhegan Island, in Portland and Winter Harbor, to right here in downtown Bar Harbor.
The Maine films are new enough not to have had the chance for national distribution yet – they are still being discovered. Few international films ever achieve U.S. distribution, so to be able to see these in a cinema is a real treat, organizers said.
Most of the films scheduled for screening were hand-picked from those selected for the big Maine International Film Festival put together by the Maine Film Center each July in Waterville.
First Light Film Society, Reel Pizza’s soon-to-be-official nonprofit arm, has curated this annual “best-of-the-fest” event especially for the local audience for the past seven years, with increasing interest every year.
A special part of MIFF By-the-Sea is the opportunity for viewers to interact with film creators. Five feature filmmakers and seven short-film directors are making the trip to Bar Harbor for this year’s event to talk about their films at their screenings.
Many also will attend the opening celebration, catered by Sassafrass Catering, Atlantic Brewing Company and Bar Harbor Cellars, with musical accompaniment by a MDI High School jazz combo. Tickets for this special event, held Friday, Sept. 18, from 4-6 p.m., are available for purchase.
Oscar-winner Ernest Thompson returns for his third year in a row to run a free workshop and show off “You are Loved,” the completed music video that he shot on Bar Harbor’s Village Green with local residents last fall.
This year’s Acadia Arts Achievement Award recipient and COA faculty member Nancy Andrews returns to MIFF By-the-Sea with her third film.
The first local public screenings of her highly anticipated debut feature film, “The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes,” will be held during the festival weekend.
In cooperation with the Beatrix Farrand Society, director Carey Lundin will travel to Maine from Chicago with “Jens Jensen: The Living Green,” her film about the under-appreciated pioneering landscape designer whose gardens include those of Skylands, now owned by Martha Stewart.
Two additional filmmakers will be in Bar Harbor with their latest work. Central Maine part-time resident and director Lauren Shaw’s new film “Angkor’s Children” is an inspiring look at art’s capacity to revitalize both individuals and communities through the stories of three young Cambodian women hoping to heal through the arts from their country’s genocide.
Former U.S. Congressman from New York Robert Mrazek, who wrote the legislation creating the National Film Archive at the Library of Congress, has retired from politics and taken up writing and filmmaking. His nearly complete film “The Congressman,” filmed on Monhegan Island and in Augusta, will be screened as a work-in-progress.
Short films are where every filmmaker starts out. They are the preferred format of many. Each year, MIFF By-the-Sea presents at least one program of shorts. Seven short film directors will attend the screenings.
ImproVision, the occasional wacky collaboration between the cinema’s B movie collection and the talented comics of ImprovAcadia, is set to happen Friday evening.
The list of films, screening schedule (Each film shows twice.), descriptions and links to trailers are available on the Reel Pizza website, www.reelpizza.net/miff. A printed program can be picked up at the cinema.
Tickets for every screening are available in advance at the Reel Pizza box office during regular evening hours or by calling 288-3828.