LEWISTON — Friday the 13th was a dark and stormy night with a full moon riding across a cloudy sky. Could there be a better time for a festival dedicated to beer and fear?

The Emerge Film Festival got underway Friday and in spite of the dreaded date, everything went just swimmingly.

Almost eerily so.

“We are 100 percent all set for a great festival,” said Laura Davis, president and chairwoman of the Emerge board of directors. “Filmmakers have arrived, venues are all set, tons of volunteers are making it happen and the range of films is truly extraordinary.”

The festival was hastily organized in early spring after the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival was canceled when its main organizer got arrested. There was chaos and uncertainty, but by Friday night, there was no sign of that sense of desperation.

“When you think about the amount of time they had to pull it all together, it’s just incredible,” said Ramsey Tripp, whose film “The Peloton Project” debuted during last year’s L-A Film Festival. “To me, it speaks to the people involved. Everybody has done their job, and more. They’ve just done amazing work.”


“A great team effort,” said Dan Marquis, who was there supporting Sandra Marquis, an Emerge board member and key organizer.

The theme of the night was beer and fear, although at Baxter Brewing, there was more of the former than the latter. Dozens of filmmakers, board members and movie fans jammed in around the bar, glasses of beer in hand. It’s all about the films, of course, but it was hard to ignore the subject on everybody’s mind.

How did they do it? How did they put together such a grand festival in such short order?

“That,” said Seth Shelden, “is one of the most compelling story lines of them all.”

Shelden, an actor in the short, “Leave Keys in Car,” flew in from New York to be at the festival. He didn’t know a single soul in the room, but he was getting acquainted. When he was first invited up, it was the story line that intrigued him: all those actors, producers, directors and volunteers overcoming great odds to make it happen.

“It’s just really impressive,” Shelden said. “The story itself is exciting. The harder something seems, the more people want to pitch in.”


Oh, they pitched in. Not just the filmmakers and scrambling board members, but the community at large; people like Luke Livingston, president and founder of Baxter Brewing, who agreed, without hesitation, to host the beer and fear event.

There were many people like that, Davis said. A mind-boggling number.

“Everybody in the community said yes to us,” she said. “We didn’t get a single no.”

Organizers needed a lot of that help. They needed a little luck, too, and a lot of hard work. With such long odds against them, you kind of wonder why they would schedule their launch on a day marked by a creepy alignment.

Not that they did it on purpose.

“The next time there’s a full moon on Friday the 13th will be in August of 2049,” observed organizer Dan Marois. “When we chose to launch the Emerge Film Festival with a Beer and Fear night, we didn’t realize that this astronomical phenomenon would be in place. Now we believe it is in the stars that this should be the start for the new Emerge Film Festival.”


The weather, truly dark and stormy all day and into the evening, had zero effect on the event. Baxter Brewing continued to fill up as the hours wound down to showtime — showtime being the debut of Corey Norman’s “The Hanover House,” a chiller about a man who rushes to a less-than-ordinary farmhouse to seek help after striking a girl with his car.

Debuts are always nerve-wracking. On Friday, it was Norman suffering the stress and excitement. Last year, it was Tripp.

He remembers it well.

“Your stomach rises up in your throat,” Tripp said. “You’re all nerves and you’re scared, just waiting for your film to start.”

Norman, of course, boasts nearly 30 producer credits. He’s experienced plenty of film debuts.

“He’s been through it all,” Tripp said. “But I’ll bet he still gets butterflies.”


Shortly before 8:30 p.m., the crowd began to move from Baxter Brewing to the Franco Center. Along with “The Hanover House,” Norman’s “Natal” was also on tap. Suddenly, fear started to overtake beer as the dominant force.

“After Carissa’s recent suicide attempt,” goes the film description for “Natal,” the second feature, “four friends head to an isolated Maine cabin for a weekend of fun. When she starts hearing scratching in the walls, she begins questioning her own sanity as her world spirals out of control.”

Delightfully unnerving and it’s only the beginning. On Saturday, more than three dozen films will be shown at various locations in Lewiston and Auburn. Pretty remarkable, considering that just a few months ago, all seemed lost.

Festival organizers were offering free tickets to students and by Friday night, there were rumblings that students would be coming en masse.

“We heard that Sanford High School is sending a bus full of students up, which was music to my ears,” Davis said. “I really hope the word is out about free tickets for students … the whole point of developing Emerge was to exposure our community to the art of cinema. I am thrilled to offer students this chance.”



LEWISTON – In a sense, Michael Dixon managed to get some joy out of the 2014 Lewiston-Auburn Film Festival, an event that never actually happened.

In early April, after the film festival fell apart following the arrest of its founder, Dixon found himself with two aimless film directors on his hands.

The directors, Kurt Jacobson and Warren Leming, had been planning to show their film “American Road” at the film festival. Instead, they found themselves in the Twin Cities with nothing to do.

When the LAFF fell apart, Dixon said, “they had already purchased their plane tickets and all of that. They ended up staying at my house.”

What do you do with a pair of wayward movie directors when there’s still snow on the ground?

“I ended up taking them around,” Dixon said. “I took them to L.L. Bean, the Maine State Museum… We went out to eat at the diner in Gardiner. We actually had a great time. They really enjoyed themselves.”


For those few days, Dixon served as tourguide for two men he had never met in person. He only knew Leming vaguely – the two men had started an email correspondance after Dixon bought on of Leming’s music albums.

“They’re both very nice guys,” Dixon said.

Jacobson and Leming had hoped to return to the area Friday for the Emerge Film Festival. Alas, said, Dixon, they couldn’t make it.

Not that it stopped Dixon from having a good time. He arrived at Baxter Brewing in Lewiston early in the evening and quickly got himself a beer. Still two hours from showtime, things were already looking up.

“So far,” Dixon said, raising his glass in a toast, “so good.”

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