LEWISTON — You know what they say: The show must go on.

When a group of college students failed to show up for a screening of their films Friday, there were moments of confusion. The audience, about two dozen strong, waited in the quiet halls of the Franco Center as the scheduled start came and went. The screen was dark and the stage was empty. At first, nobody seemed to know what was happening.

“Are we going to watch some films?” one woman whispered to another. “Or just sit here looking at each other?”

Enter Heather Beaulieu, an Emerge Film Festival board member, with some news. None of the student filmmakers were able to make the trip to Lewiston, she told the audience, so the films would be shown without them.

Welcome to the theater: strange and unpredictable.

Then the films started rolling — nine in all — and the tension passed. The student films played one after another and featured a little bit of everything: a devout family waiting for the Rapture, a man with a gun in a vast white room with red doors, a young lady hurrying for work in New York City, a convenience store robbery and a high school student who has to decide between his punk friends and a future in art.

The student shorts segment of the film festival got along just fine without the students, thank you very much.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the films,” said John Andrews, who came from Scarborough for the festival. “I thought they were inspired.”

Andrews and his companion, Shirley Helfrich, said they particularly liked “Enfilade,” the 10-minute film about the man in the white room. The film featured a variety of special effects, and if there was one downside to the absence of the filmmakers, this was it.

“How did they do it?” Helfrich wondered. “I would have liked to have asked them that. And I would have liked to have heard a little bit about the filmmakers themselves.”

The problem with these particular filmmakers, according to Beaulieu, is that they are college students with busy lives. Some couldn’t get out of classes or work, while others were unable to make the journey to Lewiston.

“The students are from all over the place,” Beaulieu said, including New York, California and Australia.

Andrews had a single question, but it was a big one.

“My granddaughter made a film as a college student 10 years ago,” he said. “Is it too late to submit it?”

Turns out it is not. Although Andrews’ granddaughter is now an adult working in the record industry, since the film was created in its entirety while she was in college, Beaulieu encouraged Andrews to submit it.

Andrews fully intends to do so.

“My granddaughter is a genius,” he said. “As a proud grandfather, I thought her film was terrific.”

With that accomplished, Andrews rubbed his hands together and prepared for a full weekend of film.

The Emerge Film Festival will feature more than 40 films and four parties. A schedule of events can be found at emergefilmfestival.org/2015-schedule.


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