AUBURN — A southern California magazine, MovieMaker, has named the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival one of the top 25 coolest film festivals in the world.

“It tells filmmakers out there that we do produce a level of quality,” said Joshua Shea, the festival’s director. “It also tells people that we have the kind of organization and support that allows us to get this kind of award.”

The effects were felt immediately.

Within hours of the release, the number of submissions to the festival doubled, Shea said. The quality of the movies seemed to be rising. And he’s hoping the “cool” designation will be shared by folks who buy tickets and attend 2014’s festival, scheduled for April 4-6. Tickets will go on sale in February.

“We have a lot of enthusiasm for this festival,” Shea said. “That’s really why we won this award.”

The choice of Lewiston-Auburn was made by the magazine’s readers.


Worldwide, about 15,000 people cast ballots for their choice of festival. They were narrowed to nominees and then whittled further to the top 25.

“I would say this is pretty important,” said Kelly Leow, the magazine’s managing editor. “MovieMaker magazine covers festivals more than almost any publication out there. I think we’re taken seriously when we release our ratings every year.”

Leow and her colleagues figure at least 5,000 festivals are eligible.

Among the winners alongside Lewiston-Auburn were festivals in Coney Island, N.Y, Columbia, S.C., Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles.

The best-known winner was the Tribeca Film Festival, founded by actor Robert DeNiro in lower Manhattan.

On MovieMaker’s website, Lewiston-Auburn was described briefly: “Just as Lewiston and Auburn share a film festival, we hear the cities may merge into one super city in the coming years.”


Shea hopes the added publicity will help the festival as it undergoes some behind-the-scenes changes. Former directors Sandra Marquis and Molly McGill have left and new people are being added.

Some of the festival events will be moved back to Auburn’s Hilton Garden Inn after a year at the Lewiston Ramada. Shea may consolidate movie screenings into four or five places rather than seven. And he wants to lower prices for all tickets.

He is also working on surprises.

However, people who have attended any of the first three festivals will recognize the casual atmosphere and breakneck pacing, he said.

“I want this to be an event that people are swept up in,” Shea said. “I want people to feel tired at the end of this. I want people to think that they’ve been in a whirlwind.”

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