PORTLAND (AP) – Actor Ed Harris, who spent four months in central Maine during last year’s filming of “Empire Falls,” will return to Waterville this week as guest of honor at the seventh annual Maine International Film Festival.

The festival, which opens Friday, will include showing of more than 80 movies. One of the highlights will come next weekend when Harris shows about 20 minutes worth of footage from “Empire Falls,” the HBO movie based on Richard Russo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

Harris starred in the movie, alongside Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Some 2,000 people from Maine were used as extras.

The film’s premiere is scheduled for next May, but the clips that Harris will show at the festival will give Mainers an early glimpse of portions of the movie.

Harris, who’s 53, will be honored with the festival’s Mid-Life Achievement Award, whose previous winners include actors Peter Fonda and Sissy Spacek and directors Terrence Malick and Jonathan Demme.

Spacek had been in Maine just prior to her award, filming “In the Bedroom.” Demme, after his award, became a member of the festival’s advisory board.

While off-camera during the filming of “Empire Falls,” Harris could be seen chatting with folks, sitting in local eateries and watching movies in the local cinema. When he was asked to attend the festival, he didn’t hesitate.

“He was here for four months, which is a long time as far as shoots go, and I think he got to know people and felt a kinship with the community,” said Ken Eisen, the festival programmer who invited Harris. “He usually opts for roles that are artistically and socially challenging and I think that says a lot about him.”

Other guests at this year’s festival will include screenwriter Jay Cocks, who will introduce a screening of the Cole Porter bio-pic he wrote, “De-Lovely.” The film stars Kevin Kline and will play the festival July 17.

AP-ES-07-06-04 0216EDT

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