Elan documentary added to Emerge Film Festival

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LEWISTON — Emerge Film Festival has added a last-minute screening of “The Last Stop,” a new documentary about the controversial former Elan School in Poland, to its roster next week.

Festival President Ramsey Tripp announced Friday that it would be showing Friday, April 28, at 12:30 p.m. at the Franco Center.

New York filmmaker Todd Nilssen, a former Elan student, has been at work on the project for more than two years.

The private boarding school operated between 1970 and 2011, deploying controversial tactics such as a boxing ring and “attack therapy.” Maine State Police recently closed an investigation into the death of a student in 1982 whom witnesses say was subjected to a fight because he’d complained of a headache. He died the next day.

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“This film exposes one of Maine’s deepest and darkest secrets,” Nilssen said Friday. “The film lays out the story of Elan from the inside out as well as its place in the highly controversial troubled-teen industry. It should also be noted that Elan had a profound and lasting effect on the thousands of kids that attended during its 40-year reign.

“I hope people will walk away with the understanding that we still have a long way to go when it comes to treating mental health and addiction, especially amongst teenagers,” he said.

Tripp said “The Last Stop” was added to Emerge because it paired well with another Friday feature, “Property of the State,” and because he felt like it would be valuable for the community to see and discuss.

“Just to look at those very personal stories — it’s a complicated thing dealing with mental health,” Tripp said. “I think it just brings up some of these issues, to have conversations and put them out there in the community for people to be able to see and experience that. Film, I think does it in a unique way.”

Tickets for the show are $10 at the door and it’s included in the festival’s all-access and matinee passes.

A day before the film’s Maine debut, Nilssen will be the featured speaker at the Great Falls Forum on Thursday at the Lewiston Public Library. He’s titled his talk and Q&A, “Elan, What the Hell Happened?”

“The Last Stop” is also screening Saturday, April 29, at 8 p.m. at Clark’s Pond Cinemagic in South Portland.

kskelton@sunjournal.com

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