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Over the river

NH festival features four Maine-made films
By BLY LAURITANO-WERNER  |  October 11, 2006

NICE PLACE Vacationland.

Though it’s called the New Hampshire Film Expo, four of the 67 films being screened in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, this weekend have stronger ties to Maine than the Granite State.

One of the featured films, Damaged Goods, is by Waterville native Todd Densmore, who has an associate’s degree in digital video production from Southern Maine Community College. Densmore describes his movie as a “dramedy,” where three guys are “trying to figure out what the hell they want to do with their lives.” Two of the characters develop a dark addiction to pain, “just to feel something other than what their normal, mundane lives have given them,” Densmore explains. Recognizable spots in the greater Portland area, such as the lookout on top of Munjoy Hill, Tommy’s Park, and Back Cove, can be seen throughout the film. Densmore cast local actors and “took a credit card out for $5000, [and] maxed it” to get his equipment. “It was just me with the camera; I had an audio setup for my camera, and it was just me with the actors. It was very, very intimate.”

Adam Fisher, originally from Prospect Harbor, created the animated film Ballad of the Purple Clam. Fisher’s film, loosely based on Moby-Dick, is about a Downeast Maine clammer who swears revenge on the clam that bit his finger off. “It’s based a lot on experiences and characters from growing up in Prospect Harbor,” Fisher says. Fisher built the clay puppets, did the animation, the sound, and the voice-overs himself. He did the film for a graduate school project at Rochester Institute of Technology, and ended up spending fifteen to eighteen hours a day on the film for six weeks. It played earlier this year at the Maine International Film Festival where it received audience acclaim.

Though Rick Widmer, the creator of American Fair, did not grow up in Maine, he spent his summers in York County, and has always felt a strong connection there. So, it seemed the perfect place to shoot his documentary. The film follows Mainers setting up a fair in York County, and “all of the exciting and interesting and oddball stuff that happens at the fair.” Turkish guitarist Emery Yilmaz helps shape the film with his score. “The piece was created to kind of give overseas audience a different kind of look at American life,” said Widmer. “ Not just MTV, not just the news, but to show off our solid, people-of-the-earth agricultural values to people overseas. I think it’s something we can connect with people around the world, the fact that we all have agricultural backgrounds.”

Lance Edmands from Kennebunk, a graduate of the NYU Tisch School and a Student Academy Award finalist, has his film Vacationland in the festival. Vacationland, also shot in York County, is a coming-of-age road movie in which two brothers run away in search of their estranged older brother, who has just been released from jail. It has an all Mainer cast (including an actor whose talent was discovered in a karaoke bar). “It’s hard, because you’re always broke,” Edmands explains. “It’s a constant battle between spending all your money on making things you love or eating.” Edmands has worked with both Jim Jarmusch and Todd Solondz, and is now working with Michel Gondry. “They have their own crazy visions. It was educational. I got to see through their whole processes. [It was] exciting, crazy, hard.” Edmands’s Vacationland has been shown at the Movies on Exchange and the Maine International Film Festival, at which viewers gave it great praise.
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