July 7 – 13, 2023Vol. 25, No. 4

Six Maine Movies at MIFF

A still from Those Who Wait

Beside the opening night feature Hangdog, six other Maine feature films will be shown at this year’s MIFF. These six include four dramas and two documentaries. Most of these presentations are world premieres.

We’ve listed the films in the order of their initial screenings. The descriptions are paraphrased and abridged from those on the MIFF website and the filmmakers’ sites. All screening times are p.m. Each film will also be shown on the festival’s second Saturday, July 15, but some of those second screenings conflict with each other.

As of this writing, a few of the screenings have already sold out — and probably a few more will by the time you read this — but you still might be able to get into a “sold out” screening, if you show up at least 15 minutes in advance. (“Sold out” means that 80% of the seats have been sold. The rest are reserved for pass holders and at-door ticket buyers.)

In Heightened, a young woman drops out of law school after pulling a fire alarm while suffering a panic attack during an exam. She returns to her family home in Maine, undergoes court-ordered psychiatric treatment and tries to manage her relationship with her emotionally distant parents and an unlikely friendship with the supervisor at her assigned volunteer job at a state park. Both screenings, Sun., 7/9, 12:20, Cinema 3 and Sat., 7/15, 6:00, Cinema 1 have sold out.

A still from Nice People

In Israelism, two young American Jews, who were raised to love Israel unconditionally, witness Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinian people first hand. They join a movement of young American Jews battling the old guard to redefine Judaism’s relationship with Israel, revealing a deepening generational divide over modern Jewish identity. (In case you’re wondering, the Maine connection is that director grew up in Norridgewock and completed some of the work on the film in Maine.) Both screenings, Sun., 7/9, 3:20, Cinema 3 and Sat., 7/15, 3:40, Cinema 2 have sold out.

In Nice People, old lovers reunite, a friendship is betrayed, a pet is killed, a runaway is discovered, and a coworker comes back from the dead. Shot over five years, this ambitious, no-budget, indie film presents five intertwined stories about suffering from kindness. All inspired by real happenings and conversations in and around Portland, they present a side of Maine not seen anywhere else. Both screenings, Mon., 7/10, at 9:40, Cinema 2 and Sat., 7/15, 12:20, Cinema 3 have sold out.

Those Who Wait follows Portland residents, as they cycle through several waves of apocalyptic prophecy and disappointment during an 1840s religious doomsday movement. According to the film’s directors, “With a primarily queer/trans cast and crew, we sought to bring a queer sensibility to all aspects of an (unlikely) production. With many parts of the historical record missing, we attempt to be in conversation with history while allowing queer imagination to fill in the cracks.” The film screens Tues., 7/11, at 9:20 in Cinema 3 and Sat., 7/15, 7:00 in the Opera House.

Casey Turner and Matt Delamater in From the Morning to the Night.

Two years ago, Fighting Indians debuted at MIFF. That documentary dealt with the controversy over Skowhegan Area High School’s Indian mascot. This year, a new documentary explores a similar controversy in Wells, a small town in the southern tip of Maine. In We Are the Warriors, the two filmmakers, who are both graduates of Wells High School, follow the town’s residents as they debate whether, after a racist incident at a high school football game, they should retire their Warriors mascot and its associated Native American imagery. One can watch this film Wed., 7/12, at 3:20 in Cinema 3 or Sat., 7/15, at 4:00 in the Opera House. The first screening has sold out.

From the Morning to the Night follows a recovering drug addict as she tries to keep her life together after the unexpected death of her brother. Juggling her relationship, career, and hard-won sobriety ultimately becomes too much. According to the MIFF site, “The film takes us down the wayward road of recovery, showing us that healing is not linear and care can look differently at various points in our lives.” This film will be shown Wed., 7/12, at 9:40 in Cinema 2 and Sat., 7/15, at 9:20 in Cinema 3.

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