July 17, 2013

Story of North Pond Hermit subject of Maine International Film Festival documentary

By Jesse Scardina jscardina@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE — Folklore and urban legends are as old as society itself.

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Lena Friedrich explores the gripping story of Christopher Knight, the Hermit of North Pond, in "Hermythology," showing at the Waterville Opera House on Saturday, July 20 at 3:30 p.m.

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Christopher Knight

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

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In addition to “Hermythology” and “Lost on a Mountain in Maine,” a number of other films featured Maine in several ways.

“Dead River Rough Cut” (showing at the Opera House at 6:30 p.m. Thursday): A story of two Mainers who “prefer the sounds of the birds to the roar of highway traffic,” the 1976 film was shot in central Maine and claims to be the most requested film at the Maine State Prison.

“Bluebird” (showing at Railroad Square Cinema at 7 p.m. Saturday): An emotional drama set in the harsh winters of Millinocket, it weaves the tales several story lines to illustrate the profound effects a tragedy can have on an isolated American town.

“The Guide” (showing at the Opera House at 3:30 p.m. Sunday): This depicts a journey through the tormented mind of a Maine buck tracker as he comes to grips with issues from his past and present while leading an inexperienced hunter deep into the Rangeley and Rumford woods.

“Raw Faith” (3:30 p.m. Friday and 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Opera House): The story, about a family building a handicapped-accessible boat, is full of challenges and family breakdowns that come to an emotional head.

“The County,” “The Sea (is still) Around Us” and “Carrying Place” (3:15 p.m. Saturday at Railroad Square Cinema): Three Maine-based shorts will be featured, including a portrait of a year in Aroostook County, a depiction of the death of a Maine resort lake and a horror story inspired by actual events in Maine history.

While residents near supposed encounters with the Loch Ness Monster and Sasquatch can only carry on the myths passed down about their mysterious creature, frequenters of North Pond have the satisfaction of catching their urban legend: the North Pond Hermit, Christopher Knight.

At the Opera House on Wednesday night, roughly 500 viewers watched a 20-minute clip from the work-in-progress documentary “Hermythology,” directed by Lena Friedrich.

Looking through the lenses of those who, according to police, were victimized by Knight throughout his 27-year stint isolated in the woods and the very, very few who supposedly interacted with the North Pond Hermit, the brief documentary offered unique perspectives on the lives he affected.

“I just felt unsafe,” said one woman interviewed for the documentary. “I couldn’t stay here without my husband.”

“We used to speculate who it could be,” said another woman interviewed for “Hermythology.” In the short clip, Friedrich interviewed at least six people who had camps that had been burglarized or said they interacted with Knight. Also interviewed was a reporter from the Morning Sentinel, a songwriter who wrote a tune for Knight and a deli owner who named a sandwich after the hermit.

“It’s all made from locally stolen ingredients,” the deli owner said, “but it’s not 27 years old.”

“It’s a 100 percent difference,” said Donna Bolduc, referring to the atmosphere this summer compared to previous summers, when Knight wasn’t in jail. Bolduc said she was seeing the film and has a camp on North Pond that was broken into by Knight at least three or four times per summer. “He totally knew when we’d leave. We’d find handprints on the bed from him crawling through the window. It’s pure happiness now. He freaked us out.”

Stacy Shoulta, a friend of Bolduc’s who visited the camp often, said she had friends from Kentucky ask her whether she knew Knight.

“It had gone nationwide,” she said. “My friends laugh and say it got a little personal once because he took beer from them.”

The “Hermythology” documentary is just one of a number of Maine-based films being shown at the Maine International Film Festival. Following “Hermythology” was a 20-minute preview of the narrative story “Lost on a Mountain in Maine,” directed by Ryan Cook and Derek Desmon, who both directed the documentary of the same name. Cook held a brief introduction before the preview was shown and answered some questions briefly after the showing.

Both films are scheduled to be shown again at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Opera House. Friedrich is expected to be there to discuss her documentary; and Donn Fendler, on whose experiences “Lost on a Mountain in Maine” is based, will be there as well.

Knight’s story garnered worldwide attention after the 47-year-old told police he had lived in isolation in the woods, committing more than 1,000 robberies in 27 years and living off stolen goods from surrounding campsites. Knight said he had contact with only one person during his two-plus decades in the woods.

Knight is in custody at the Kennebec County jail, held in lieu of $25,000 bail, after being arrested April 4. He is being held on multiple charges of burglary and theft.

Jesse Scardina — 861-9239

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