LEWISTON — Portland filmmaker Mackenzie Bartlett’s short film, “Baptism,” was shown during the fifth annual Emerge Film Festival at the Franco Center on Saturday.

The 22-minute film was about a woman living in a religious cult who is blamed for the group’s rotten harvest.

Because of her sexual activities she is deemed a sinner and made to repent if the group wants to grow healthy fruit. The men of the town capture her one night and tear out all of her teeth while she’s tied down.

Bartlett said she was inspired by the Shirley Jackson short story, “The Lottery,” in which a woman is stoned to death. Bartlett said she wanted to show the “systematic silencing of women” in a harrowing way. 

Portland filmmaker RJ Wilson showed two of his “under a minute” horror films. The first, a mere 15-second film called “Under the Dusk, She Screams” depicted a pregnant woman screaming in the desert and trying to kill her evil baby.

The second, “How to Know if You’re Dead,” showed a man playing baseball and talking about how he thought he would die. He then gets hit in the head with a baseball and dies.

“Trying to come up with an all-encompassing story in that amount of time can be difficult,” Wilson said. “But it’s rewarding all around.” He said making shorter films enables him to make more.

Wilson said these two films were inspired by a creative writing piece he had done in college and the other by a comedian.

Saturday screenings kicked off at Community Little Theatre in Auburn at 10 a.m. with the first of four sets of short films.

Fifteen short films were screened Friday, 26 Saturday, and five full-length films were screened over the two days at both the theater and the Dolard and Priscilla Gendron Franco Center. 

While a good amount of the films screened were foreign or from farther away, several filmmakers were able to attend the screenings and answer questions.

The festival wrapped up Saturday night with the screening of a feature-length film, “The Last Pig.” 

Viewers watch “Baptism” during the Emerge Film Festival at the Franco Center in Lewiston on Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

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