The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
Features  |  Reviews
Find a Movie
Movie List
Loading ...
Find Theaters and Movie Times
Search Movies

(10) days of celluloid

From the gridiron to gritty realism at the Maine International Film Festival
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  July 8, 2009

miff main

TAKING THE FIELD The Rumford Falcons arrive in The Rivals.

Among the many treats at last year's Maine International Film Festival were a future Oscar winner (James Marsh's documentary Man on Wire) and one of the biggest art-house hits of 2008 (Scandinavian teen-vampire flick Let the Right One In). This year, MIFF offers a slightly shallower lineup, but expands beyond its Waterville headquarters with a weekend of screenings (June 17-19) at Portsmouth's Music Hall. Other new developments at Maine's largest film festival include MIFF's first-ever drive-in screening (of Infestation, a man-versus-giant spider duel directed by Kyle Rankin) and the bestowment of a Lifetime Achievement Award on Arthur Penn, the legendary director of Bonnie and Clyde and Carousel. Otherwise, MIFF once again presents a sprawling slate of domestic and international cinema: old and new, fantastical and gritty, awful and masterful. Highlights (and lowlights) follow; see screening times in our film listings.

The Rivals

The prestigious opening-night slot at MIFF this year belongs to The Rivals, a locally-made (and -soundtracked) documentary by Kirk Wolfinger and Lone Wolf Documentary Group about the nascent high school football rivalry between Cape Elizabeth and Rumford. The Rumford squad are perennial division champs, the pride of a run-down town whose economy is supported by a hospital and a dying paper mill. The Capers are a brand-new program with, naturally, huge financial support (including a new artificial-turf field) and talented athletes looking for some extra padding on their college resumes. The stark disparities between the towns give this rivalry an economic and ideological edge that intensifies the stiff competition on the field.

Wolfinger does an excellent job navigating and sometimes defying the prejudices of both the viewer and the townspeople — Cape coach Aaron Filieo, who seems like an unrepentant douchebag until we learn more about his efforts to support a growing family on a teacher's salary, is one of a few unlikely case studies — and as the football season approaches its end, The Rivals' final half-hour becomes genuinely surprising and suspenseful. (The narrative crux of the film is a post-game handshake.) The film will air on cable's Smithsonian Channel in 2010.


Eric Daniel Metzgar confirms his status as the most unique and talented young documentarian in America (he also directed The Chances of the World Changing and Life. Support. Music.) with his latest and best film. In Reporter, Metzgar follows the New York Times's Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof through the war zones and humanitarian crises of Afghanistan, Sudan, and Congo. The result is as beautiful and unsettling as it is philosophically rigorous: Metzgar is deeply aware that making a 90-minute film about the world's most depressed areas cannot capture the breadth of these people's suffering, but in acknowledging that dilemma, he intelligently transcends the medium's limitations.

Dirt! the Movie

MIFF's closing-night film is the most ambitious of a handful of eco-documentaries on view this week. (Others include Ron Mann's Know Your Mushrooms and Stephanie Soechtig and Jason Lindsey's Tapped, a film about the global water crisis, which begins in Fryeburg.) Directed by Bill Benenson (father of Portland artist Stephen Benenson) Dirt! is a consideration of the composition and functions of soil from the perspective of farmers, physicists, activists, and children, employing many filmmaking techniques, including some animation.

1  |  2  |   next >
Related: Festival atmosphere, Review: All About Steve, Review: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, More more >
  Topics: Features , Entertainment, James Marsh, Jean-Pierre Dardenne,  More more >
  • Share:
  • Share this entry with Facebook
  • Share this entry with Digg
  • Share this entry with Delicious
  • RSS feed
  • Email this article to a friend
  • Print this article
Re: (10) days of celluloid
By chigger65 on 07/10/2009 at 5:01:06

Share this entry with Delicious
  •   BEHIND THE (LOCAL) MUSIC  |  October 07, 2009
    “Working in a studio for so many years, we get to work closely with musicians when they are at their most creative — and most vulnerable,” says Marc Bartholomew, audio engineer and co-runner of Hanover Street’s Acadia Recording Company.
  •   MUSIC SEEN: SUFJAN STEVENS + MARIE STELLA  |  October 07, 2009
    The ironic thing about Sufjan Stevens's belated debut in Portland was that a big show for this town is an intimate event for him.
  •   POLITICS ON THE GROUND  |  September 23, 2009
    Convention , the opening-night feature at the fifth annual Camden International Film Festival, is a logistical triumph that chronicles a logistical triumph. AJ Schnack, the director of the Kurt Cobain documentary About a Son, organized a group of nine filmmakers to capture the breadth of the August 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.
  •   TAKE THE FIFTH  |  September 23, 2009
    Among the issues you'll see tackled at the Camden International Film Festival this year are poverty, overfishing, peak oil, and the plight (and/or) ambition of children who grow up too quickly.
  •   STARS ALIGNED  |  September 16, 2009
    The days are growing shorter, the magazines are (well, barely) getting larger and meatier, and the first batch of cider doughnuts is on the way real soon: all sure signs of autumn, as is the bountiful crop of prestigious concerts coming our way this season.

 See all articles by: CHRISTOPHER GRAY

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group