LEWISTON — A Maine film that recently won first place at the AARF International Film Fest in Berlin, Germany, will be the featured attraction at this year’s Emerge Film Festival.
“Peace, Love & Zoo” was named best feature documentary in January in its first festival. The film will be shown at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at The Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center, 46 Cedar St., before the awards ceremony.
“It is about a local Portland artist who is just a wonderful person who has lived an amazing life,” Ramsey Tripp, president of the Emerge Film Festival, said.
Directed by Reginald Groff, the film tells the story of Zoo Cain, a colorful and prolific abstract artist. A former addict who has been sober for more than 25 years, Cain has devoted his life to helping others with their addictions.
Groff and Cain are both expected to be at the screening.
“His zest for life is abundantly demonstrated in his art, his dancing, his spirituality and his love,” Groff wrote on a fundraising page for his film.
A “zest for life” appears to capture the essence of the fourth annual festival.
While board members are still finalizing the 40 or so films to be featured in this year’s festival, topics such as artists, poets, musicians and authors are popular among the submissions.
Many of the film submissions, Tripp said, deal with uplifting themes of triumph and overcoming demons.
“We want it to be a festival that is about artists, musicians with energy and positive things,” Tripp said. “There are some awesome things happening.”
The only other film officially selected for the festival is “I Know a Man … Ashley Bryan.” The Maine documentary tells the story of the 93-year-old Bryan, an artist, storyteller, puppet-maker and illustrator of more than 50 children’s books, who lives on a Maine island.
The remaining films will be revealed within the next couple of weeks.
The fourth annual festival is scheduled for April 27-29 at venues throughout Lewiston and Auburn.
The festival is planning a few changes. Thursday night will feature a self-guided short film festival to showcase the quality of the numerous short films that sometimes get overshadowed by the feature films and documentaries.
Rinck Advertising will host the program that evening at its new home on Lisbon Street, Tripp said. Rooms will be set aside for short films on a continuous loop. The setup will allow festivalgoers to see the films at their leisure while also socializing with the filmmakers and other attendees.
Saturday night’s showing of “Peace, Love & Zoo,” the awards presentation and the after-party will all be held Saturday, April 29, at the Franco Center. The “Peace, Love & Zoo” themed after-party will feature the Portland band Substitutes.
During the festival, L/A Arts will feature its inaugural Artists Days in LA with a tribute to Bryan, including puppetry workshops in the elementary and middle schools and an exhibit of the students’ works alongside Bryan’s at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College.
Tickets for the festival will go on sale March 15.