Maine-made documentary on tour

Jan 07, 2013
“Downeast” bears witness to the closing of the country’s last sardine factory and the attempt of an entrepreneur to re-open it as a lobster processing plant, all on the coast of Maine.

The acclaimed documentary “Downeast” by filmmakers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin will screen at a number of venues throughout Maine as part of a statewide screening series co-presented by the Camden International Film Festival.

Local screenings will be Saturday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. at the Camden Opera House on elm Street/Route 1; and Sunday, Jan. 20, and Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre, 163 High St. in Belfast. General admission tickets in Camden are $8, sold at the door; the box office will open at 6:15 p.m. Colonial tickets are $8, $7 for those older than 64 and $5 younger than 13.

The film is set during an era of post-industrialization in which numerous factories have been exported. “Downeast” focuses on Boston-based entrepreneur Antonio Bussone as he tries to re-open Prospect Harbor’s former Stinson Sardine Factory as one of the first lobster processing facilities in the country. Two years after the factory closed, Bussone’s company, Live Lobster, was unable to secure funding for the venture and has been sued by TD Banknorth for $3.5 million for failing to make loan payments. Last August, TD Banknorth auctioned off Live Lobsters properties. In November, the City of Rockland sued Live Lobster for debts and damages after the closure of the Live Lobster properties in Rockland.

“Downeast” premiered in competition last April at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival and has played a number of leading festivals around the world since including festivals in Germany, Iceland, Denmark, Canada and all across the United States. The film had its Maine premiere as both a work-in-progress and finished film at the Camden International Film Festival, where it was awarded a Special Jury Mention for Best Documentary in 2012.

Redmon and Sabin spent nearly two years living in Maine following the story after meeting Bussone in Chelsea, Mass., while Redmon was teaching at Harvard as a Radcliffe Fellow. Redmon and Sabin are two of the most respected filmmakers working in documentary film. They have produced eight feature projects in eight years, seven of which have screened at CIFF.

In addition to “Downeast,” Redmon is currently finishing work on two new projects, both of which were shot during his time in Maine. “Kingdom of Animal” is a one-shot documentary revealing the experiential sensations of factory laborers who process lobsters and fish inside three interconnected factories on the coast of Prospect Harbor. “Night Labor” follows Sherman Frank Merchant, a 46-year-old 6-foot-6 Downeaster during his transition from an independent and rugged clam digger by day to manning a factory at night. It was shown to rave reviews as a work-in-progress at last year’s Camden International Film Festival.

“It’s truly an honor to be involved in bringing this film back to where it all started” said Ben Fowlie, founder and director of CIFF. “Redmon and Sabin are such wonderfully talented storytellers, and this film is no exception. The film is superbly crafted and balanced, and their commitment to covering the day to day and ups and downs of this story provide viewers a unique opportunity to see inside an extremely publicized statewide story.”

Fowlie said he has enjoyed witnessing the strong reactions to the film from audiences across the world and is excited to share it with as many people in Maine as possible. In addition to the local screenings, “Downeast” will be screened in Ellsworth, Damariscotta, Brunswick, Boothbay Harbor, Bar Harbor and Brewer, and additional dates and locations will be added. For the most up to date schedule, visit

This series is co-presented by the Camden International Film Festival’s CIFF Selects Series, a traveling showcase of the finest nonfiction storytelling. The ninth annual Camden International Film Festival will take place Sept. 26 through 29.

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

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