LEWISTON — The 2015 Emerge Film Festival, which opens April 9 in Lewiston -Auburn, will screen over 50 independent films throughout the course of the four-day festival, including more than a dozen Maine-made films.

“Filming is on the rise in Maine,” says Maine Film Office Director Karen Carberry Warhola. “Maine offers so many beautiful locations, talented crews, and film-friendly communities. The state is not overexposed on the big screen, and there’s a lot of interest in filming in Maine right now. “

The Maine Film Office has reported an increase in film production in Maine of more than 200 percent over the past two years adding more than $10 million in spending to Maine’s economy during that period.

Maine -made films at the Emerge Festival include two that are contenders for Best- of-Festival awards; “Child of Grace,” by director/writer Ian McCrudden, writer Willie Hagan, and producer/actor Thomas Hildreth, and “Bluebird,” by director/writer Lance Edmands and producer Kyle Martin.

“Child of Grace” will have its world premiere at the festival on Friday, April 10, at the Franco Center Performance Hall. The cast includes Ted Levine (“The Bridge, Monk,” “Silence of the Lambs”), Emma Myles (“Orange is the New Black”), Maggie Elizabeth Jones (“We Bought a Zoo,” “Identity Theft”), and Thomas Hildreth (“Islander,””Mr. Smith Gets a Hustler”), who also produced the film.

The film is based on the novel “June Bug” by Chris Fabry. It was shot in part in Millinocket, and is the second Maine made movie collaboration for McCrudden and Hildreth, who was born and raised in the greater Portland area. The first was “Islander,” shot on Vinalhaven and released in 2007.

“I grew up in Maine, most of my family lives in Maine, and I return often, so I have a very strong connection to the state,” says Hildreth. “I see Maine as an under-saturated market for film. It’s very beautiful, there are a lot of great stories related to the nature of Maine people, and it hasn’t been over-used. One of my missions at Sternman Productions is to further develop film production here. Our next project is a crime story set in the Portland area that will be written to fit the reality of the location.”

“Bluebird,” which will be shown at the festival on Saturday, April 11, had its national debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013 and stars John Slattery (“Mad Men,” “Sex In The City,” “Judging Amy”) and Amy Morton (“Up In the Air,” “8MM,” “Rookie of the Year”). This critically-acclaimed film was written and directed by Lance Edmands, who grew up in Kennebunk.

“‘Bluebird’ was inspired by Maine and the landscapes of Maine,” said Edmands. “I wanted to capture the indelible sense of place that is specific to the Katahdin area. The landscape has a toughness, but also a gentle beauty, and there is a certain disposition that is identifiably Maine. It’s a special place to me, having grown up there, and it meant a lot to have the chance to return to make art.”

In addition to bringing productions into the state, the Maine Film Office works with the local film community to foster the growth of the local production industry. According to Carberry Warhola, the Maine film community is very supportive, and film makers enjoy spending time here, noting that Portland, Maine, was selected by MovieMaker Magazine as one of 2015’s “Best Places to Live and Work as a MovieMaker”.

Other films at the Emerge Festival with strong ties to Maine include “A Love Story in Stone” directed by Walter Skold; “Arabel” directed by Erin Enberg; the 10th- anniversary screening of “Cleophas and His Own: A North Atlantic Tragedy” directed by Michael Maglaras; “Dark” directed by Ranin Brown; “Go Around Again” directed by Rick Groleau; “She Doesn’t Love Marty,” directed by Thomas McKellick; “Tea for Two” directed by Colby Michaud; “Tickle” directed by Corey Norman; and “Cigar Man” directed by Evan Clar, starring Steven Culp of NBC’s “Revolution”and edited by Auburn native Ross Morin.

More information about the festival and the full schedule of events is available at emergefilmfestival.org

More information about the Maine Film Office is available at filminmaine.com.

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