WATERVILLE – The Maine International Film Festival will bring 100 films and some of the industry’s most innovative filmmakers from the Netherlands, Chad, Switzerland, Canada, France and the United States to the area July 11-20.

Hosted at the historic Waterville Opera House and the Railroad Square Cinema, the festival provides an expanded view of the world nd offers a unique opportunity for movie enthusiasts to talk with some of the writers, producers, directors, actors and musicians who are in front of and behind the scenes.

It will all get underway at 7 p.m. Friday, July 11, with an opening ceremony and a screening of “Man on Wire,” winner of the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. The film will be shown at the Waterville Opera House, which has 35mm projection equipment for the festival.

Two films – “Keepers of the Trail,” about trail keepers going from northern Maine to Canada, and “Immokalee USA” – highlight the Maine-centered offerings.

“Immokalee USA” is a documentary about today’s migrant farm worker, a necessary yet frequently forgotten group living in the shadows of America’s massive food production machinery. The film could be called “Anywhere U.S.A.” because Immokalee (though in Florida) is a community, like thousands, that depends on a massive influx of migrants who plant, pick and process our daily food.

Here, Maine-based (Penobscot) director George Koszulinski’s at times invisible camera follows a family of undocumented workers as they work hard, raise their children and are systematically exploited with poor conditions, menial wages and the threat of prosecution constantly hanging over them.

“Immokalee U.S.A.” has a fascinating cast of characters, from Panchito, the lonely romantic who plucks his guitar with a weary hand, to the heartbreaking Mateo Diego, whose grasp on reality seems to fade with each succeeding interview.

The 77-minute film will be shown at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 19, at the Waterville Opera House. Koszulinski will attend the festival.

“Keepers of the Trail” is an odyssey led by Maine and Labrador guides Garrett and Alexandra Conover into the ways of the northern trail. The two follow winter as they head north during a Maine thaw. The 25-minute film will be shown at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, July 12, at Railroad Square Cinema. The Conovers will be present for the showing.

Achievement award

The Maine International Film Festival will present the 2008 Mid-Life Achievement Award to one of independent cinema’s finest actors and directors, John Turturro.

A Golden Globe nominee, an Emmy winner and a Cannes Film Festival Best Actor award winner, Turturro has appeared in more than 60 movies and has become a regular in the thought-provoking films of Spike Lee, including his role as the highly agitated Pino in “Do the Right Thing” (1989) and as a confused boyfriend in “Jungle Fever” (1991).

Turturro has also had an extended collaboration with the Coen Brothers, appearing in their films “Miller’s Crossing” (1990), “Barton Fink” (1991), “The Big Lebowski” (1998) and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000.) He also appeared as a severely disturbed psychiatric patient of Jack Nicholson’s in “Anger Management” and played Johnny Depp’s antagonist in “Secret Window.” He won his Cannes award and Golden Globe nomination for Robert Redford’s “Quiz Show” (1994.)

Besides acting, Turturro is a writer, director and producer. He wrote, directed and acted in “Mac” (1991) and “Illuminata” (1999). He also wrote and directed the offbeat musical “Romance and Cigarettes” (2006), starring Susan Sarandon, James Gandolfini and Kate Winslet.

For tickets and full details on the 11th Annual Maine International Film Festival, visit www.miff.org or call 861-8138.

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