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At the movies in Maine

10/01/2014
The scene outside the Strand Theater in Rockland after a film festival screening.

The scene outside the Strand Theater in Rockland after a film festival screening.

We have to drive long distances or know someone to see good movies out here in the Maine woods.

Last weekend, Jen and I combined the two scenarios and saw a whole bunch of really good films at the Camden International Film Festival.  The festival features new, independent documentary films made by directors and producers from all over the world.

It also offers an amazing opportunity for University of Maine students.

When the festival started 10 years ago a group of Jen’s colleagues designed a fall film class around the event. It’s a great idea. Students learn the art of film making, documentary techniques and meet industry professionals. Now the three instructors  want Jen to get involved in the class. They offered to set us up with lodging and all access passes. We jumped at the opportunity like Siskel and Ebert, even though it meant a 90-minute drive from Bangor.

Camden is a seaside village filled with quaint art galleries, restaurants and antique shops. It has a small harbor filled with big, expensive boats and tree-covered hills tower over the town like a giant rollercoaster. If Disney wanted to recreate a Maine seaside village for its California amusement park, they could use Camden as a model – just eliminate is the occasional 18-wheeler rumbling through downtown.

Movies were screened in a charming second floor theatre called the Bayview in Camden and at theaters in nearby Rockland. Here are the three films Jen and I attended:

“The Great Invisible” Director Margaret Brown investigates the aftermath of  the BP oil spill in her home state of Alabama. Brown interview survivors of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blast, workers impacted by the now polluted Gulf of Mexico and oil company fat cats still living large in the wake of the disaster.

“Desert Haze” Belgian Director Sofie Benoot travels the American west to dispel myths, interview excentric locals and mostly shoot some beautiful landscapes. It looks like a movie version of photographer Robert Frank’s classic book “Americans.”

“The Search for General Tso.” Did you know your favorite spicy chicken dish was named after a real 19th Century Chinese general?  Director Ian Cheney teaches us everything we want to know about Chinese food and more.

Our “all access” passes got us into a post-film party at a swanky downtown art gallery. We ate bacon-wrapped scallops, fresh oysters and plates of fudge and drank Maine craft beers, for free. We had wonderful balcony seats at the historic Strand Theatre in Rockland and visited the hospitality room in Camden for fresh bagels. Toto, we’re not in Bangor anymore.

Maybe our weekend trip to Camden will wash away the memory of seeing “Anchorman 2” at the Bangor Mall Cinema 10 last winter.

Maybe.

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One Comment
  1. I used to live on Mt. Hope Ave in Bangor.
    If you’ve never been, you need to get down to the Maine Lobster Fest in Rockland next summer.
    Cheers – Andy

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