LEWISTON — Tainted by scandal surrounding the arrest of co-founder and director Joshua Shea, the four-day Lewiston Auburn Film Festival was officially canceled Tuesday.

Leaders announced the cancellation and the refund of all tickets moments before unveiling a new, one-day movie event, the Emerge Film Festival, scheduled for June 14 at the Franco Center.

Buckfield filmmaker Michael Miclon announced his plan to headline the event with his first public showing of “Richard^3,” originally scheduled for April 4 as part of the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival.

“As a community, we had two choices, really: We could lick our wounds or we could do something,” said Laura Davis, who produced last year’s documentary, “The Peloton Project.”

Plans call for the creation of a new, nonprofit group to oversee the festival with a board of directors. The group plans to screen a number of films.

Besides Miclon’s movie, South Portland director Corey Norman has agreed to bring his movie, “The Hanover House” and Monmouth director Bill McLean will bring his film, “How to Kill a Zombie.”


Other films will follow, the group said at an afternoon news conference. Other speakers included Ramsey Tripp, who directed “The Peloton Project,” Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce President Chip Morrison and Richard Martin, the Franco Center’s program director.

All said they were relieved to announce both the refund of all tickets from the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival and the new festival.

It had been a long five days since Shea’s arrest, plunging filmmakers and audiences into uncertainty, Miclon and others said.

The scandal erupted when police arrested Shea at his Auburn home on March 20 and charged him with one count of possessing sexually explicit materials of someone under the age of 12. An initial inspection of the computer showed hundreds of images of child pornography, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety said.

Shea was released on $500 bail hours later and had declined public comment. His festival, which he operated as a for-profit entity, was scheduled to begin April 3.

As word spread of his arrest, filmmakers began dropping out of the festival.


Opening night performer Les Stroud of the reality TV show “Survivorman” canceled his planned show at the Franco Center.

Norman and McLean, both of whom planned world premieres, dropped out. Other filmmakers, including Shawn McGrath of Lewiston and Courtney Singer of California, followed.

On Monday, Miclon dropped out, despite selling out the Franco Center with more than 400 tickets.

“I love this film too much to have it connected with anything bad,” Miclon said early Tuesday.

At noon Tuesday, Shea spoke publicly for the first time since the arrest.

“I, Joshua Shea, have completely relinquished control of the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival and will have no connection or input moving forward,” Shea told the Sun Journal by phone. “I appreciate the hard work of everyone who has contributed over the years and I’m sorry how things have evolved, but I appreciate the privacy that has been and will continue to be afforded my family during this difficult time.”


Rather than continue forward with the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival, Miclon, Davis, Tripp and the others decided to let it die.

“It’s poison at this point,” Miclon said. “Nobody wants to be attached to it.”

A new festival with new leadership felt like the only way to preserve the growing community of filmmakers and audiences, he said.

Emerge’s goal is to “keep film alive in Lewiston-Auburn,” Davis said. “We think anything’s possible,” and we are working to say “yes to film, yes to filmmakers, yes to community.”

“It’s healing,” Martin said.

Miclon agreed.


“The idea was to do something really positive, right now, that will basically move us to the next step quickly,” he said.

The first step is to return people’s money. The Franco Center and its ticket agent, Brown Paper Tickets, had been handling all tickets for the festival.

Anyone who bought tickets by credit card will be reimbursed automatically in three to five days, Martin said. People who bought tickets with cash or checks can get a refund at the Franco Center box office at 46 Cedar St. in Lewiston.

People already began calling the Seattle-based ticket company requesting refunds for festival events, which ranged from $19 for a pass to watch most of the festival’s movies to $109 for a VIP pass that included all movies, the Stroud concert, special access and a brunch.

On Tuesday morning, the seller cut off sales for the festival, said Casey Nolan, a supervisor with the company.

Besides requests for refunds, some ticket-holders sent emails with news accounts of Shea’s arrest and the departing filmmakers to the Seattle company.


The new group — which also includes Sandy Marquis and Tamera Grieshaber — has yet to define titles or jobs.

“What we bring to the picture is our love of community and our love of film,” Marquis said.

They said they had yet to decide when tickets for the new festival would go on sale or how much they would cost.

They have created a Facebook page to spread news on the Emerge Film Festival at www.facebook.com/EmergeFilmFestival.


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