RUMFORD – As documentary filmmaker Kirk Wolfinger presented ideas to David Royale, the Smithsonian Institution’s vice president for television programming, work on a film about two Maine communities and their football teams fell on the floor.

Wolfinger didn’t think Royale would be interested in a documentary about the Mountain Valley High School and Cape Elizabeth High School football rivalry, but he was.

The filmmaker showed Royale a 20-minute segment of the 93-minute film, a work in progress.

Now, with funding from the Smithsonian Institution, Wolfinger’s two-year project will be completed in the next couple of months.

The film takes a look at American culture through two very different towns, translated through the game of football, and the ways the towns support their teams, Wolfinger said.

“It was never intended to be a film about football,” he said.

Mountain Valley High School Principal Matt Gilbert said he was impressed by the respect shown to the school and the students.

“Anything to do with the film, or if they wanted to talk to the kids, they’d contact us first,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert wasn’t pleased with the idea at first, but as filming progressed and the film became more of a look at American culture, he became convinced that the documentary was a good thing.

“Some things aren’t nice to see, but sometimes there are things you see in the mirror you don’t like. But this film gets down to what makes the community. People will like it,” he said.

Wolfinger and his crew at Lone Wolf Documentary Group of South Portland are editing the film. Gilbert said the film crew was doing a few final shots at the high school on Wednesday.

Once it’s ready, the film will be screened locally for the football team, their parents and the coaches. Later, it will be presented to the community.

Gilbert hopes that will happen before the end of the school year.

For Wolfinger, who has done documentaries for National Geographic, Nova and the Discovery Channel, among others, the film was a labor of love. The undisclosed amount of funding received from the Smithsonian enabled him to finish the film.

Wolfinger lives in Cape Elizabeth and his son plays football for Cape Elizabeth High School. But the filmmaker has become attached to the students, coaches and people of the Rumford community.

“I didn’t know how much you’d fall in love with the kids,” he said.

The Smithsonian has recommended that he submit the final product for entry into several film festivals, such as Sundance, Tribeca and Waterville’s Maine International Film Festival. Then, it will be aired on the Smithsonian TV channel, which is part of Showtime.


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