Picturesque harbors, deep Down East accents and vanishing small towns are the focus of many films shot in Maine.

The way summer visitors see Maine is almost expected in the opening shot of a Maine-made movie.

But what Blake and Maple see from their apartment building windows in downtown Lewiston will be shared with hundreds of movie buffs during this week’s Maine International Film Festival. 

“Cat Window,” an experimental short film about two indoor cats and what they see out of their second-floor apartment window, is the latest creation of Lewiston filmmaker Craig Saddlemire.

“I have seen a lot of interesting things from these windows,” said Saddlemire. And so have Blake and Maple, 1 1/2-year-old sisters named after the streets that surround their home. “They spend a fair amount of time checking out what is going on outside,” Saddlemire said.

The idea for the film came when Saddlemire was looking for “something fun and artistic.

“Most of my films have a cause and a purpose,” said Saddlemire, an articulate community activist who campaigns for public transportation, healthy neighborhoods and human equality.

Saddlemire’s prior film “Neighbor by Neighbor” did serve a purpose. It documented the efforts of downtown residents to keep their neighborhood from being bulldozed to make room for a four-lane boulevard. The movie took almost five years to produce and, once finished, the 27-year-old Bates College graduate decided to work on a project a little less involved. 

“Cat Window” was filmed during the spring, summer and fall of 2009. As most who are familiar with downtown Lewiston would agree, when the snow melts from the park benches and the concrete heats up, people open their windows and the conversations begin. 

“Spring is when the neighborhood gets interesting,” said Saddlemire, who walks or bikes to wherever he needs to go. “There is a lot of opportunity for spontaneous education,” he said about his walks through downtown. “I really enjoy the neighborhood.” 

Featured in the film are Saddlemire’s late neighbor, Bob, a patch of sunflowers planted to eliminate lead in the soil, a mysterious cat who meows like a crying baby and a diverse gathering of residents waiting for the bus.

“All of the images are pretty good snapshots of what the neighborhood is like,” he said. All seen through the eyes of one troublemaker named Blake and one laid-back cat named Maple.

“‘Cat Window’ is a fictional piece with nonfictional moments,” Saddlemire said.

Only Saddlemire’s closest friends have seen his film so far. “Everbody has been very positive about it,” he said. “I am very curious to see what response I get from an audience of people who do not know me and my neighborhood.”

“‘Cat Window’ was a project for myself,” he said. “I was not trying to create a film for a film festival.”

Saddlemire gave a copy of the movie to Bob’s daughter. Bob lived next door and has a small role in the film. Bob recently died, and his daughter encouraged Saddlemire to enter the movie in the Maine International Film Festival.

“I would have been happy to finish it and watch it with a couple friends and put it on the shelf,” Saddlemire said.

Showtimes are 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and 9:30 p.m. on Thursday at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville.

“Cat Window” is one of seven movies featured within the short-film showcase, Visions. Saddlemire will be at one showing but not both. “What people laugh at is the most interesting part of watching my film,” he said. “With each new audience, it seems like I’m watching it for the first time.”


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