AUBURN — The 10th-anniversary screening of a film based on a poem by renowned Lewiston painter Marsden Hartley will kick off the second annual Emerge Film Festival.

The festival will be held over four days on April 9-12 at various venues in Lewiston and Auburn.

Less than 20 percent of the more than 200 submissions were accepted into the four-day event. The list of films includes seven features, eight documentaries and 20 shorts. Several student films will be selected at a later date to bring the total number of films to roughly 40.

Ten films will make their world premiere at Emerge.

“There’s so much that will be relevant for every audience,” Emerge secretary Katie Greenlaw said. “I can’t imagine anyone saying, ‘There’s nothing I want to see.’ There’s something for everyone.”

Film topics include cheerleaders, World War II veterans, basketball and the Persian New Year. There are comedies, dramas and adventures.

Submissions poured in from across the United States. Several international films were entered, including some from as far away as Australia.

Picking less than 20 percent of the submitted films for the festival proved to be a challenge for the board and took much longer than expected.

“We wanted to focus on quality over quantity, but we had so many good films to choose from,” Greenlaw said.

Emerge grew out of the ashes of the former Lewiston Auburn Film Festival, which dissolved last year. Within a couple of weeks, a group of local film lovers came together and resurrected the festival into Emerge.

“We’re all volunteers and just jumped in to save it,” Greenlaw said. “We didn’t know the first thing about running a film festival.”

With little time to get comfortable, the new board immersed itself in running a film festival. In a matter of 10 weeks, the volunteers, with the help of many from the community, planned the inaugural event that took place last June. More than 1,000 tickets were sold and the festival made a small profit.

With this year’s festival, the Emerge volunteers will have organized two festivals in less than a year.

“We are really standing on our own legs this year,” board member Heather Beaulieu said. “We had to start on day one and start just like any other festival and see if we can survive this year on our own worth. That’s pretty exciting. This could still be considered year one even though it’s year two.

The Marsden Hartley-inspired film “Cleophas and His Own” premiered to an overflowing crowd at Flagship Cinemas in Lewiston 10 years ago. The film is based on a 1941 Hartley poem about a Nova Scotian family of fishermen who meet tragedy when two brothers drown at sea. The film’s narration is combined with Hartley’s paintings and thoughts during this stage of his life.

The film will be shown Thursday, April 9, at Community Little Theatre in Auburn.

Also scheduled that evening is a welcoming reception for the filmmakers at the Woman’s Literary Union in Auburn.

A comedy night will be held either Thursday or Friday, April 9 or 10, featuring nationally known comic K-Von and local comedian Mark Turcotte, who will entertain prior to the screening of K-Von’s film “NOWRUZ: Lost & Found.”

Knowing little of his Persian heritage, K-Von wrote and directed the 90-minute film that focuses on his light-hearted journey to understand his Iranian roots and traditions of the Persian New Year.

K-Von was the star of the former MTV series “Disaster Date.”

Emerge is expected to continue its tradition of featuring a Maine film in Saturday’s prime slot. This year’s entry is “Bluebird,” written and directed by Maine native Lance Edmands. The film tells the tale of a school bus driver who fails to spot a sleeping child in the back of the bus during an inspection in a small logging community in northern Maine and the consequences.

The film, shot in Maine, has received seven nominations at various film festivals, including one for best narrative feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film stars John Slattery, best known for his role on “Mad Men” and Amy Morton, who appeared in “Up in the Air” and is a regular on the TV series “Chicago P.D.”

“Bluebird” is one of eight films with Maine ties in the festival.

The Saturday, April 11, schedule includes the film “American Cheerleader,” which follows the story of two high school cheering teams from New Jersey and Kentucky competing at the UCA National Championships. That film’s producer is television morning talk-show host Kelly Ripa.

Sunday’s closing film is “Honor Flight,” an 82-minute documentary on the Wisconsin branch of Honor Flight, a national organization that flies World War II veterans free of charge to see the memorials in Washington, D.C. The founder of Honor Flight lives in Vinalhaven and is expected to be at the screening. 

Veterans will receive free admission to Sunday’s screening.

The complete schedule and ticket information will be released soon.


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