LEWISTON — A record 53 films, including one on the creation of Spruce Mountain ski area in Jay, will be featured next month at the fourth-annual Emerge Film Festival.

Short films will have a more prominent role, with 44 selected for the festival, scheduled for April 27-29. One of them won a 2016 Student Academy Award.

“The focus this year is a little different,” said Jennifer Smith, the festival’s vice president. “You’ll get different stories and different experiences. It was hard to cut. There were so many good films.”

“It got to the point where we had to make some real hard decisions, and we didn’t want to cut some of the shorts,” festival President Ramsey Tripp said. “We wanted to focus more on the shorts.”

Three feature films and six full-length documentaries will also be screened.

The festival has more of an international feel with 13 countries represented in addition to the films made by Americans. Five of the films were made in Australia.

“Rocket,” a short created by Chapman University graduate student Brenna Malloy, won a 2016 Student Academy Award for narrative. She joins a list of renowned past winners, including Spike Lee, Robert Zemeckis, John Lasseter, Trey Parker and Pete Docter. Her film has also won awards at festivals in Los Angeles and London.

“Rocket,” set in the 1950s, tells the story of a family’s legacy and passion for dirt-track racing.

The majority of the short films will be featured opening night Thursday at Rinck Advertising’s new offices at 113 Lisbon St. Several of Rinck’s conference rooms will be converted into screening rooms where 26 shorts will be shown on a continuous loop. Tripp calls the evening a “Self-Guided Shorts Tour” where moviegoers can pop in and out of the screening rooms while enjoying the opening-night reception.

The three feature films selected include one made in Maine and two foreign films.

• “Island Zero,” filmed in the Rockland and Camden area, was written by best-selling Maine author Tess Gerritsen and directed by her son, Josh. The horror story is based on the old classics and not the slasher films of recent years. People living on a remote Maine island are cut off from the mainland with no power and no way to communicate. They then begin to die.

• Made in the United Kingdom, “Property of the State” is based on events in Ireland in 1990 when a sister has to deal with the fact that her brother is guilty of grisly murders.

• “Tatara Samurai” is the first film from Japan to be featured at the festival. “Beautifully shot,” Tripp said, the film deals with a young man in the 16th century torn between becoming a master blacksmith working with the famous Tatara steel or becoming a samurai swordsman.

Four of the six documentaries focus on Maine people and topics. Two previously announced films — “Peace, Love and Zoo” and “I Know a Man … Ashley Bryan” focus on Maine artists. “The Hungry Years” follows a homeless young Maine musician’s bid to reach stardom.

Of local interest is the world premiere of “The Town That Moved a Mountain” by Rick Groleau. With a subhead “And Then Forget They Did It,” the documentary tells the story of the creation of Spruce Mountain ski area by the citizens of Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls. Built in the 1950s in North Jay, it was moved three years later to a different hill on the banks of the Androscoggin River at a location that was considered more convenient.

“It’s a great story about a group of people in the community who came together to build a community ski hill,” Tripp said. “It’s become a focal point of their community.”

The film is expected to be shown Friday afternoon.

While the schedule is not finalized, Tripp said, “Property of the State” will be featured Friday night, while “Peace, Love and Zoo” will be Saturday’s prime attraction just prior to the award ceremony at The Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center. 

Films will be shown at the Franco Center, Rinck Advertising and Community Little Theatre in Auburn.

The festival will also include a women’s panel discussion on horror films. The festival includes a grouping of four horror shorts made by female filmmakers.

Several directors will be in attendance. Organizers are hopeful that “Property of the State” lead actor Patrick Gibson, who co-stars in the Netflix series “The OA” will attend the festival.

Several filmmakers will visit classrooms at Auburn, Turner, Lewiston, Lisbon and Poland high schools to share their talents with students.

Tickets are on sale on the website emergefilmfestival.org. Festival organizers are still looking for volunteers.

[email protected]

The movie poster for “Property of the State.”

A movie still from “Property of the State,” featuring actor Patrick Gibson.

Poster for the short film “The Bus Trip.”

The poster of the short film “Detect Earth: When Life Gets Stinky”.


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