Film nights in Rockland, Unity

Eat my shorts

By Dagney C. Ernest | Jan 30, 2013
Gastronomy goes some intriguing places in “Next floor,” a 12-minute film from Canada to be screened in the Rockland Shorts series.

We are in the bleak mid-winter, when cabin fever really begins to hit. Short films are perfect for still-too-long nights and this weekend offers a smorgasbord of shorts in Rockland and Unity.

Rockland Shorts 2013

The second annual off-season series of Rockland Shorts, co-sponsored by the Farnsworth Art Museum and Rockland’s downtown Strand Theatre, will open Friday, Feb. 1 with an hour-long program of seven films, ranging from one to 16 minutes long, beginning at 8 p.m. The screenings are preceded by a half-hour social mingle and will be followed by a half hour Q&A with a few of the filmmakers, in person and via Skype. Then the discussion will move down Maine Street to the Fog Bar.

The series was conceived by filmmaker/producer Sally Levi, who teaches at the Maine Media Workshops, and Roger Dell, the Farnsworth’s education director, and debuted last winter. Two other Rockland Shorts nights are planned for this year, in April and June.

“It’s something for in the winter, when there’s not so much going on,” said Levi a week before 2013's first event.

Most of the shorts selected are on the current film festival circuit and they come from all around the world. The Feb. 1 Rockland Shorts will screen films from Canada, Iceland, Belgium/France/The Netherlands, Norway … and Midcoast Maine. The theme is, appropriate for mid-winter, Trials and Tribulations.

“It’s really challenging, because it’s such a niche program — every film has to have strong artistic elements,” said Levi, who said the hour will feature both fine art-oriented documentary and narrative entries.

The films are chosen both from “what’s out there” and by submission. The themes arise from the films selected, Levi said. Once she has a few in hand, a theme arises and then other films are chosen that align with it; since she is programming all three nights, it is a fluid process until close to each event.

“It’s hard! There are a few I really like but they don’t really fit Trials and Tribulations, so I hope to fit them into April or June,” Levi said.

The feedback from last year’s Rockland Shorts indicated that the post-screening discussions easily match the films for entertainment. Skype makes it possible for filmmakers from all over the world to "be" at the Strand, and people at both sites get to see each other.

“The audience really loves it and it’s good for the directors too, to get a sense of the director impact” of their work,” she said.

Confirmed for Skype Q&A are “Oh Willy” directors Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels, who are from Brussels but will be Skyping from Japan; and “The Pirate of Love” director” Sara Gunnarsdóttir, “popping in” from Iceland. Annie Bailey, a grad of the Rhode Island School of Design who works with the Farnsworth and with Jamie Wyeth, will be at the Strand in person to talk about her animated “Unwinding.”

“Oh Willy,” filmed in Belgium, France and The Netherlands, is inspired by Diane Arbus photographs of people living in nudist colonies and is one reason the evening of unrated films is not recommended for younger audiences; some of the films contain adult language and sexual content.

“The Pirate of Love” is an imagined backstory for a stolen CD of songs; “Trotteur” depicts a settling of accounts between a young man and a locomotive; “Life in a Minute” offers a short visual poem exploring love and the brevity of life as seen from the perspective of old age. Other films scheduled are “Triumph of the Wild” and “Next floor.” Also screening, from 7:30 to 8 p.m., will be an intra-media work by Siebren Versteeg, a former Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Merit Fellow.

“It’s an Internet work that collects content from different news programs. This will be the first time it will be on such a large screen; it’s usually been shown in galleries and museums,” said Levi.

Rockland Shorts tickets will be sold at the door prior to the screening; prices are $8.50, $7.50 for Farnsworth members. For more information, visit farnsworthmuseum.org/rockland-shorts-international-short-film-series.

Maine Outdoor Film Fest

Shorts of a decidedly less introspective focus will be screened Saturday, Feb. 2, beginning 7 p.m., when organizers of the inaugural Maine Outdoor Film Festival bring a selection from the 2012 event to the Unity College Centre for the Performing Arts. Also on the two-hour program will be a short film directed by Unity College students Eli Walker and Alex Bach about Friends of Sears Island.

The festival, a collaboration of No Umbrella Media and Three Rivers Whitewater, debuted last August on the banks of the Kennebec in West Forks. No Umbrella’s Dan Callanan will host the Unity College encore, which features two shorts he co-directed and -produced.

No Umbrella began in the early 2000s as a print publication and transitioned into a video production company in 2007.

“We do all kinds of video work, but our true love is the outdoors,” said Callanan, who co-directed the film festival.

For a few years now, Callanan has been shooting video at the New England Runner Sledding Championships in Montville and No Umbrella’s 2011 short “Moments from Hogback” is on the Unity lineup. Also set is “For Those Who Love Paddlers,” a short by Callanan and Nick Bowie that was shot for the Portland-based 48 Hour Film Project last August along the West Branch Penobscot River.

“Jeremy Cass from Unity College organizes The Race That Never Was; we had 35 paddlers,” said Callanan.

Those paddlers were interviewed for the film, which Callanan was inspired by a problem that needed addressing, a problem facing anyone who loves someone who loves to kayak.

“We wanted to share the pain and respond to their ‘You’re going away again?’ by asking and showing why paddlers do what they do,” he said, adding that he and Bowie are waiting to hear if their film will be selected for the Reel Paddling Film Festival.

Another passion that drives people outdoors is ice fishing, and 2012’s “Hardwater” explores the Maine tradition of the same. At 75 minutes, the documentary that was screened at last year’s Camden International Film Festival and, more recently, on MPBN, is no short but is pretty short for a feature. Ryan Brod, who co-directed “Hardwater” with Dan Sites, will be on hand.

The rest of the fest films, ranging from two to 19 minutes in length, are ““Turning Tail,” about the plight of the Wild Atlantic Salmon, by Carter Davidson/Grey Ghost Productions; “Mainely Boating,” celebrating the adventures of Maine's whitewater kayaking enthusiasts, by Taylor Walker; “D-Rail,” an excerpt from the 2011 film “Don't Quit Your Day Job” that chronicles the comeback of injured snowmobile athlete Daryl Tait, by Chris Malenfant; “One Day at a Time,” about a day in the life of a sky-dive outfitter, by Nate Lawson, Spencer Hodge and Tyler Dale; “Carrabassett Backcountry Cycle Challenge” by Andy Gillespie; and “Life is Good in AK,” which follows Maine skiers and snowboarders to Tailgate Alaska, by Will Caswell and Ken Hess.

No Umbrella Media has done some filming at the Belfast Free Range Music Festival and it was a discussion back and forth with that festival’s co-director Meg Fournier, who manages UCCPA, and Cass that ended up bringing the Maine Outdoor Film Festival to the performing arts center.

“It’s such a great room, and what else are you going to do on a winter night?”, said Callanan.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at uccpa.unity.edu or by calling 948-7469. The film festival is presented in partnership with the Unity College Center for Environmental Art and Humanities. For more information about the Maine Outdoor Film Festival, including how to submit work for this summer’s fest, visit maineoutdoorfilm.com.

Looking ahead: Banff

When it comes to outdoor adventure films, most of them shorts, in the middle of winter, the Midcoast’s annual visitation by the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is the reel deal. For the 13th consecutive year, the tour will be hosted by Maine Sport Outfitters, where advance tickets are now on sale. There will different lineups for each night — Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. in the Strom Auditorium of Camden Hills Regional High School, Route 90 in Rockport. Tickets for each night are $10 in advance, $12 at the door; and $5 for students. For more information, call 236-7120 or visit mainesport.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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