WATERVILLE — Three-time Academy Award-winning film editor Thelma Schoonmaker will be honored next month at the 15th annual 2012 Maine International Film Festival.

Schoonmaker, who has edited all of director Martin Scorsese’s films since 1980, will receive the Mid-Life Achievement Award at the 10-day festival, which runs July 13-22 at Railroad Square Cinema and the Waterville Opera House.

Schoonmaker, editor of films including “Raging Bull,” “The Aviator” and “The Departed,” has been nominated seven times for Academy Awards, most recently for Scorsese’s film, “Hugo.”

She will receive the festival award at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 17, in the Waterville Opera House where the film, “Goodfellas,” edited by Schoonmaker and directed by Scorsese, will be shown.

Festival programmer Ken Eisen said Tuesday that Schoonmaker is the greatest editor of all time.

“Nobody ever edited a film like she edited those films of Scorsese’s,” he said.

A Railroad Square founder and owner of Shadow Distribution, based in Waterville, Eisen called Schoonmaker an incredibly successful editor in an industry that is biased against women.

“She’s managed to forge this amazing career as the most respected editor in the world, and she’s a woman,” Eisen said.

Schoonmaker joins past festival award winners Lili Taylor, Peter Fonda, Sissy Spacek, Ed Harris, Bud Cort, Malcom McDowell, John Turturro, Arthur Penn, Terrence Malick, Jos Stelling and Walter Hill.

The festival features about 100 independent American and foreign-made films, as well as the latest films produced in Maine.

Directors, producers, writers and actors from all over the world attend the festival, offering audiences a chance to learn about film and filmmaking through panel discussions and social gatherings.

Actor and Academy Award-nominee Karen Black will appear as a special guest at this year’s event.

She stars in the festival’s opening night film, “Vacationland,” a Maine-made movie about a family that attends a reunion in the western Maine mountains. It screens as 6:30 p.m., Friday, July 13 in the Opera House.

Black was nominated for an Oscar as a Best Supporting Actress in 1970 for her role in “Five Easy Pieces.” It will be shown at the festival along with her films “The Day of the Locust” and “Nashville.”

Eisen described her as a jaw-dropping actress with a jaw-dropping career.

She is also a two-time Golden Globe winner and appeared in other films including “Easy Rider” and “The Great Gatsby.”

Maine-made films premiering at the festival include “Like the Water,” “The Eighteenth Hour” and “Nor’easter.”

Festival Executive Director Shannon Haines noted the wide selection of Maine-made films to be shown at the event.

“It’s the most that we’ve ever had at the festival — six feature-length films shot in Maine and most of them are world premieres, so it’s very exciting,” Haines said Tuesday.

“Like the Water” is about a young journalist who returns to her hometown of Camden to deliver a eulogy at the memorial of a childhood friend.

“Nor’easter” portrays a young priest on a small island off the coast who involves himself in the investigation of a missing child who returns to his family after five years.

And “The Eighteenth Hour” is about a teenager who seeks to escape reality through his imagination.

In addition to Maine-made features, documentaries and film shorts, the festival will offer “rediscovery” films, according to Haines.

“This year we have an incredible selection of restored and preserved classic film prints,” she said.

They include “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “The Leopard” and “Letter from an Unknown Woman,” she said.

The festival has installed 35 millimeter projection equipment at the Opera House, which underwent renovation and was closed to the film festival last summer.

Haines said that for past festivals, the projection equipment was installed at the Opera House and removed at the end of the 10-day run.

“This year, we actually purchased the system as part of the Opera House renovation,” she said. “It will be there permanently.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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