Filmmaker Ben Keller received a call from a couple of friends asking if he would film their upcoming 100-mile race.

Not a runner, Keller said he did not have time to spend a week filming the event. No, not a week, they told him … it would only be 24 hours.

That was enough to get the Scarborough filmmaker to the starting line. He quickly realized he had a documentary on his hands and running was only part of the story.

“This is a film of discovery,” Keller said. “It’s about so much more than just running.”

The film “Just One Step” kicks off the fifth annual Emerge Film Festival on Thursday night at the Franco Center at 8 p.m. The festival featuring independent films continues through Saturday.

A total of 47 shorts, features and documentaries will be shown during the three-day event. Venues include the Franco Center and Community Little Theatre in Auburn.

When making his film, Keller started out wondering who were these runners and why were they running? He discovered it was more about why people do the things that they do.

What he learned during filming encouraged Keller to start running.

“I’m a convert,” he said. “I don’t love running, but there are things in it that are important to me and my life.”

With a few technical details remaining, “Just One Step” is still a work in progress, Keller said. He will utilize the attendees of his film at Emerge as a test audience and is looking forward to the Q-and-A that will follow to receive feedback on his film.

Thursday night will also feature an opening night reception at Baxter Brewing at 6 p.m.

On Friday night, the festival is hosting its first outdoor component in conjunction with the Maine Outdoor Film Festival at Heritage Park in Lewiston.

In addition to showcasing the winner of this week’s MOFF Broke and Stoked competition, the night features the documentary “Into Twin Galaxies: A Greenland Epic.” That film tells the story of three National Geographic adventurers embarking on a trip over Greenland’s frozen rivers using kayaks and kite skis.

Dozens of short films will be shown throughout the day Friday and Saturday at CLT and the Franco.

Holding Saturday’s prime slot is the documentary “The Last Pig,” directed by multi-Emmy Award winner Allison Argo. The film’s director of photography is Joe Brunette of Portland.

Another film with local ties is “Witchcraft Blue,” the first feature film by Bates College professor Michael Sargent. The documentary about the state’s burlesque scene, will be shown 3:30 p.m. Saturday at CLT.

Several visiting filmmakers will visit high schools throughout the area on Thursday and Friday to share their knowledge with students.

A series of three workshops titled “Making it in Maine,” held in partnership with the Maine Film Association, is scheduled for Saturday at Rinck Advertising on Lisbon Street beginning at 1 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for a full-access pass. A Friday pass costs $25, while Saturday’s program, including the EFFY Awards, is $35. Individual tickets are $10.

For information, including the complete list of films, see www.emergefilmfestival.org.


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