July 12, 2013

Lights, camera, action: Maine International Film Festival opens in Waterville

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE — The 16th annual Maine International Film Festival enters the digital age as it opens Friday at Railroad Square Cinema and the Waterville Opera House.

click image to enlarge

Railroad Square Cinema manager Alan Sanborn loads a digital copy of Harold Lloyd's 1923 movie "Safety Last" on Thursday, which will be showing at Railroad Square Cinema.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

click image to enlarge

Additional Photos Below

Related headlines

Maine International Film Festival

When: Today through July 21

Where: Waterville Opera House, Railroad Square Cinema

Schedule: onlinesentinel.com

Tickets and information: www.miff.org; 861-8138

About 80 of the 100 films being shown during the 10-day run are digital as opposed to the standard 35 mm, according to the festival’s technical director, Alan Sanborn.

The cinema’s change to digital in April was difficult and took a lot of getting used to, he said, but the bugs appear to be worked out.

“The transition was a bit nightmarish at times,” he said.

Sanborn, one of the founders of Railroad Square 35 years ago, was in the projection room at the cinema Thursday, where films were being brought in for the festival. The carrying cases for digital films are much smaller and lighter-weight than those for 35 mm and take up a lot less space, as does digital projecting equipment.

“It’s kind of a whole new ball game and a lot of procedures to work out,” Sanborn said of digital projection. “This is the biggest change in the motion picture industry since sound. It’s all new equipment. You can’t use any of the old equipment. All of the procedures are different.”

The festival’s opening tonight will feature a special guest: Academy Award winning director, producer and screenwriter Jonathan Demme, who won the festival’s Mid-Life Achievement Award in 2002.
Demme will present his latest film, “Enzo Avitabile Music Life,” a documentary about a gathering of world musicians in Naples, Italy. The film screens at 7 p.m. in the Opera House following brief speeches by festival officials and Waterville Mayor Karen Heck.

The festival draws thousands of actors, filmmakers and movie enthusiasts from all over the world to Waterville every July.

Audiences get to meet filmmakers, who typically discuss films before or after screenings, and socialize with them at festival receptions.

New to the festival this year is a ticketing system whereby festival-goers may buy individual show tickets in the Railroad Square lobby well in advance of screenings.

“Before now, people have only been able to buy tickets online or at the venue shortly before show times,” said festival director Shannon Haines.

Haines was in the Railroad Square lobby Thursday, where she said preparations for the fest were going well. Printed programs arrived Thursday, and festival enthusiasts were streaming in to pick them up and buy tickets.

“Our technical team is testing them (movies) all out to make sure that they play and everything is working appropriately,” Haines said.

The Opera House was being set up as well, and officials were testing sound equipment there, she said.

It was about 26 hours before the festival opening, and Haines said officials were “pretty ready.”

“It always feels like this flurry of activity and we’re all running around crazily, but the curtain lifts and everything starts and we have no choice — we have no more time,” she said.

Dozens of volunteers have been working behind the scenes, arranging travel and lodging for visiting filmmakers and in some cases, lining up child care for them.

“We have a great hospitality team,” Haines said. “We try to make people feel welcome.”

She pointed to gift bags that are given to special guests, including actors and filmmakers. The bags are filled with all sorts of mostly Maine-made products, including baseball caps, coffee, soap, tea, spices, olive oil and vinegar and maple popcorn donated by businesses. The large canvas tote bags are donated by L.L. Bean.

Festival Intern Sarah Eisenstark was running the box office Thursday, working kinks out of the new electronic ticket machine.

“It’s going well,” said Eisenstark, 18, of New York City. “We were running into a couple of problems, but I think all of them have been solved.”

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Alan Sanborn, manager at Railroad Square Cinema, holds a digital movie as he stands next to the old 35 mm projectors on Thursday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

click image to enlarge

Pat Burdick, foreground, paints a new Maine International FIlm Festival themed cross walk on Main Street downtown in Waterville on Sunday. Assisting Burdick is Kevin James, back right, and Jennifer Olsen, executive director for Waterville Main Street.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans


Further Discussion

Here at KJonline.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)