Gloria Barker of South Paris watches the film “Breaking Their Silence: Women on the Frontline of the Poaching War” during the Emerge Film Festival at the Franco Center in Lewiston on Saturday morning. Barker said she enjoys coming to Emerge each year to watch international films that touch on topics not typically seen in the United States. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

AUBURN — Not many have the chance to get in front of — or behind — a rolling film camera, but local students had that opportunity to see how films are created during this year’s Emerge Film Festival.

The festival’s final curtain call Saturday, and festival co-founder Ramsey Tripp said the educational program offered to local high-school students was a highlight of the three-day event.

“Yesterday was by far the coolest. It was an awesome day with students from Edward Little, Poland, and Leavitt High School,” said Tripp. 

According to Tripp, about 40 students came to the Community Little Theater in Auburn, one of three screening locations, the others being Rinck Advertising on Lisbon Street in Lewiston and the Franco Arts Center.

At Community Little, students viewed a musical film titled “When the Music Changes,” written and directed by Husson University students. After the film, three of the filmmakers answered questions from the students, and Tripp, owner of Lewiston-based Trade-mark R Productions, gave them a tour of lights, cameras and other production gear.

Students from ELHS then traveled to the Franco Center, where they attended a screenwriting class.

“The kids had really great comments yesterday — a student said it was the happiest day of his life,” said Tripp. “When you’re not in this world, and you’re kind of living in a blue-collar town, you’re not used to seeing this kind of stuff.”

Tripp hopes exposing the world of film to students might inspire them to pursue careers in the industry — or someday have their own works appear in the festival.

Next year, Tripp said, the festival is looking to engage in more educational opportunities.

Corey Norman is a director and writer and professor at the University of Southern Maine, and has written and directed several films in past festivals. Tripp said that, next year, Norman wants to work with the festival and build a student curriculum centered around the event.

“A lot of cool things are happening around that that came from this year’s festival,” said Tripp.

Friday night was topped with an emotional showing of the documentary, “Scattering CJ,” the story of an Auburn family following the 2010 suicide death of 20-year-old C.J. Twomey.

Twomey’s mother led a panel discussion after the screening.

Saturday night was topped with the screening of “Return to Hardwick,” a World War II documentary directed by Michael Sellers of Brooklyn.

Sellers is no stranger to film. He’s a film editor in New York and makes his living on the production side of the industry; “Return to Hardwick” is his first foray into directing. Speaking Saturday afternoon at the Community Little Theater, Sellers said there was a learning curve.

“I’ve done small projects, but when you do something larger, you have to think ‘how am I going to keep my audience around? They’re going to get bored, or think all right, this isn’t going anywhere.’ That was the biggest challenge; how do I get the next section of the film to keep them going,” said Sellers.

The film took home the award for Best Documentary in the festival.

Mark  Bisaccia of Connecticut took a trip to Auburn Saturday to view his son, Stephen Bisaccia’s, short film, “Acts of Contrition.” The younger Biscaccia was named the “Best Emerging Filmmaker” in the festival.

The elder Bisaccia said while he’s seen “Acts of Contrition,” an intense short about a priest’s relationship with a grieving parishioner, he always jumps at a chance to see his son’s work on the big screen.

“I’m very proud,” he said. 

Editor’s note: This story was changed on Oct. 8, 2019 to correct the year C.J. Twomey died.

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