Be part of the celebs as Maine Out of doors Movie Competition screens 66 movies over 11 nights

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A scene from last year’s Maine Outdoor Film Festival, the first at Portland’s Eastern Prom. Photos courtesy of the Maine Outdoor Film Festival

From the MIFF to the MOFF, Maine’s film summer is back in full swing.

Just as the 24th Maine International Film Festival ends its annual parade of good films and filmmakers visiting the state, the 10th annual takes place the Maine Outdoor Film Festival Portland (or at least the Eastern Prom) is taking over.

For the whole of next week, this cinematic celebration of all things outside will be setting up their big temporary movie screen on the rolling grass of the prom, offering Maine moviegoers and lovers of all outdoor activities a truly impressive selection of shorts and features from filmmakers who took their cameras on some of the most amazing places on earth, including of course right here in Maine.

“Portland is a great place to have a film festival,” says MOFF Director Nick Callanan, “and after everything that has happened, we were thrilled to step into the void, especially in the summer.”

In fact, after more than a year of group movie experiences limited to the number of people that could fit on your couch, the Maine Outdoor Film Festival’s rural setting seems like the perfect way for Maine movie fans to finally get together.

The screenings, which run every night Thursday through August 8, represent essentially an entire summer outdoor recreation program in Portland, something Callanan credits to the receptive help of the city of Portland (and city booking coordinator Claire Norton in particular).

“I literally can’t give Claire enough credit,” Callanan says warmly, “Your facilities department, half of them have been on leave because of COVID, but she was amazing. We’re really looking forward to partnering with the city and many different city and non-profit organizations to make our city shine a little bit. “

And shine is the word, because the MOFF screening nights (all named after different Maine rivers, for additional outdoor activities) try film buffs with the warm and entertaining glow of the e 66 different filmsall promoting different aspects of the outdoor experience. As with any Maine summer outdoor event, the usual contingencies apply. Participants should bring a chair or blanket to sit on, along with any brand of bug spray they prefer. With shows happening between two pet ballfields at the end of Montreal Street, leave your four-legged friends at home, but al fresco dining is welcome, and Callanan promises that Portland’s finest food trucks are already circling around for some provide unique and delicious refreshments. Callanan says, “Portland is just a great entertainment and recreation center and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

The performances take place between two ballfields at the end of Montreal Street.

Of course, every face-to-face meeting these days of COVID has to make adjustments to the pandemic, which is still hindering our fun together. MOFF guidelines state that this year’s festival will “follow the letter and spirit of prevailing safety guidelines, including crowd restrictions, social distancing and recommendations for face masks,” as sole responsibility. Still, the wide open spaces of the Eastern Prom call on those of us whose experience of watching a movie with friends has been limited at best in the past 18 months. Also, as Callanan notes with apparent relief, the conditions are better than last year when the now 10-year-old festival made its first move to Portland. The festival went as planned at the time, but it wasn’t the big kickoff event in Portland that MOFF had hoped (and, frankly, deserved).

“This year,” says Callanan, “we have 19 hours of film over 11 screenings, we have filmmakers visiting – it’s just a cool feeling.”

Callanan is proud that a third of the festival’s 66 films are produced in-house. Maine filmmakers carry their cameras to some of the most beautiful and fascinating outdoor locations in the state. “I want to say that the quality of Maine filings has increased year on year,” says Callanan. “It’s just so great that we can be a platform for young Maine filmmakers to post their work.”

to the films themselves, Callanan explains that it is a challenging but rewarding task for him and the MOFF employees to curate a screening for 11 different target groups from 66 films of different lengths and different topics. “We had more than 160 submissions this year, and our voluntary selection committee has done a diligent job of selecting the best. Then we want to create a balance for every night – we don’t want to bait with a pure nature conservation theme night and switch when people want a mix of everything, from profiles and travel reports to nature conservation and activist pieces. “

Overlook; monitor; overlook the offers of the Maine Outdoor Film Festival, it is clear that Callanan and his crew had a wide choice. The unifying theme of “outdoors” goes a long way and Callanan was kind enough to highlight some of his favorites.

The Sea Farmers, a short film about two Maine women working to get into aquaculture, will have its world premiere at the festival on August 7th.

The Sea Farmers, by Portland filmmakers Nathan Golon and Emilie Silvestri of GoodFight Media, follows two Maine women who are working to get into the tough but lucrative aquaculture trade (in their case, oyster farming). Callanan on the world premiere short film (which will be shown on August 7th in the Sheepscot program): “It is a really heartwarming film about two women who fight against the old network of aquaculture and maybe get stronger for it.”

“The Long Game” changes to a profile of Maine athlete Ryan Dunfee, whose long and painful recovery from a terrible accident turns into an inspiring story of perseverance and courage. “It’s one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen,” Callanan says of the five-minute film from Maine’s Herman Mantis Inc. (showing on Thursday as part of the Kennebec program). “The film really gives Ryan the space to articulate his thoughts and motivations to get out of there.”

To switch completely, there is also the rightly ticked “Juniper Ridge Landfill Megadump – Part 1”, an exposé about environmental injustice here in Maine. From Maine’s Sunlight Media Collective, the 16-minute short investigation delves deep into the heap where a greedily exploited loophole in laws against shipments of toxic waste from other states into Maine has brought 200,000 tons of that polluting junk to the Alton landfill. As Callanan notes, the film seeks to highlight ongoing legislation to remotely shut down the municipal sewage pipeline and other inconveniences. (Demonstration as part of the Saco program on Saturday.)

Tongans try to find sustainable ecotourism that swims with endangered whales in “Faka’apa’apa,” a performance on Sunday.

And that’s just the tip of the way when it comes to the truly extensive hiking package of this year’s MOFF. A look through the offers of the festival promises everything, from a story about the attempt of an indigenous population to use the potentially destructive tourism for the benefit of their ancestral land (“Aguilucho: Dance of the Harpy Eagle”, Sheepscot program from August 7th) up to a similar attempt by Tongans to find sustainable ecotourism while swimming with threatened whales (“Faka’apa’apa”, in the Mattawamkeag program on Sunday).

There is a Belfast woman who lives with goats (“The Goat Lady”), a Vermont woman who combines a passion for social justice and ultra-running (“Running Through Barriers”) and a fly fishing guide from Colorado who works with psychic Diseases Cope (“If I Tell Them”). Continuing the Maine-made trend, there are movies about cycling the many scenic trails of the coast (“Ride Maine: Cape Elizabeth”), a young Maine lobster man who deals with the globally warmed waters of Maine (“The Gilded Trap”) and what Callanan calls the straightforward “cinematic eye candy” of “Acadia” by Somewhere Studios and Roger McCord’s “The Light of Lubec”, a strikingly beautiful portrait of the lighthouse of West Quoddy Head in Maine.

And that’s just the outdoor attractions, as this year’s MOFF also includes a number of indoor feature film screenings held in a few convenient locations across Maine. The River Runner screens on August 2nd at Portland Urban farm fermentationdepicting a man’s quest to paddle the four great rivers that flow from the sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet. The following night, “The Last Lightkeepers” (about preserving the sturdy lighthouses of New England) and “Following Lines”, who travel together with six canoeists in search of Quebec’s Inuit ancestors, have a dual role at the same location. on 4th of August, the Research Institute on the Gulf of Maine Here you will find the thought-provoking “The long coast“From midcoast filmmaker Ian Cheney on how adaptable and hardworking Mainer face the ever-evolving challenges to make a living from the unforgiving Maine Ocean.

Like any film festival worth its sea salt, the 10th annual Maine Outdoor Film Festival has a lot more than an article can tell. (Callanan urges everyone to watch another world premiere of Portland filmmaker Anna Wilder Burns’ Ability on Team USA’s Paracyclist Clara Brown.) As Callanan notes – and we can all wearily agree – it was a long and difficult one Year, and a night (or a whole week) in the great outdoors watching movies about the great outdoors sounds almost too good to be true.

For this year’s listing of the Maine Outdoor Film Festival films and to purchase single tickets (15 USD) or the always economical festival pass (110 USD) visit the MOFF website, maineoutdoorfilmfestival.com. If it rains, the schedule will be postponed by one day.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.

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