LEWISTON — An air of equal parts excitement and exhaustion filled the Emerge Film Festival Wrap Party Sunday night at DaVinci’s Eatery.

“We’re tired but really happy,” said Laura Rinck, president of Emerge Film Festival board of directors. “It was a huge success this year.”

This is the festival’s third year, and the staff finally feel that it’s making its mark.

“The community is really behind us now,” Rinck said. “The attendance this year was much higher; people are starting to recognize us.” 

Colin Kelley, the technical director, said he was mostly excited about the garlic knots — and to take a nap.

“I’m barely awake right now,” he said.

Rinck explained that all of the volunteers, the board of directors and the staff work long and busy hours to pull the festival together.

“We start looking in January, February,” she said. “And then it’s just late nights, pulling double shifts.” 

The festival had over 100 volunteers this year.

“It was a leap of faith,” she said. “They say faith is jumping and knowing there will be a net to catch you. They, the volunteers, were our net.”

Katie Greenlaw, programming manager, was thankful for the hard work of the team, the volunteers and the filmmakers.

“It’s a long process,” Greenlaw said. “There’s a lot of details that go into it. The volunteers, board, and staff, we’ve done what we’ve had to do.”

Greenlaw recounted some of the hard work but deemed it all worthwhile.

“Once you get to this weekend, it all pays off,” she said.

Jen Smith, managing director of the festival, said she’d like to be able to actually sit down and see all of the movies next year.

“We screened everything beforehand, but it’s different seeing it with a crowd,” she said.

Andrea Vilosek, volunteer coordinator, was happy with the support from the community and the success of the festival.

“We’re just amazed by what this area has to offer,” she said. “Especially Bates involvement — that was great. A lot of volunteers are students. And they’re excited for people who came to the festival to visit the school, the campus.”

Bates even offered a miniature filmmaking course, including a project to document and film the festival itself.

Several filmmakers and creators were also at the party to celebrate the end of the festival.

David Spaltro, a filmmaker from New York, has been nicknamed the “Godfather of Emerge.”

“Laura (Rinck) reached out to me in 2013, after the fallout of LAFF (Lewiston Auburn Film Festival), and asked me to help gather things to screen,” he said.

Rinck praised Spaltro for his help in making the 2013 festival happen.

Spaltro then screened one of his films in 2014 and came back this year for a screening of “In the Dark.” He said he loves watching his films with an audience.

“It’s that extra treat for filmmakers,” he said. 

Regarding his future involvement with Emerge, Spaltro said, “I would come here every single year. I love this town and the people.”

Kirsten Russell, also from New York, was excited to premiere her short film “Like Totally Hot Couple Seeking Same.”

“This is my second year here, and, honestly I love this festival,” she said. “It’s really cool to see how it’s grown, even though last year it also far exceeded my expectations.”

Russell said her favorite first favorite aspect of Emerge is that it’s run by women.

“They make you feel safe and they’re better at getting things done,” she said.

Her other favorite aspect is the fact that this festival is brave with film choices.

“They take chances,” she said. “They don’t have a problem with controversy.” 

The weekend ended on a high note of thanks and celebration, and despite the overwhelming exhaustion, an excitement for what’s next. 

“Every year it feels like, ‘maybe this is the last year I can do this,'” Kelley said. “But then you come out of it, and you can’t wait for the next one. This year, it finally felt like this is always going to be here, a part of L/A.”


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