WATERVILLE — The 2012 French film “The Well-Digger’s Daughter” won the audience favorite award this year in balloting for the 15th annual Maine International Film Festival.

The film, directed by and starring Daniel Auteuil, received 59 votes, according to Festival Executive Director Shannon Haines, who said ticket sales exceeded 8,000 this year, up fom 2011.

Coming in second in the audience vote was “The Oranges,” with 28 votes, followed by “The Pier,” with 20 votes.

The MIFF 15 video trailer by Jak Peters of Waterville, who works at Railroad Square Cinema, garnered four votes. Thirty-one feature-length films received votes, Haines said.

“I think we had fabulous guests this year,” Haines said Sunday evening as the festival closed. “Thelma Schoonmaker was one of the most generous guests we’ve ever had. She did a Q&A after every film, and the audience loved her.”

Schoonmaker, an Academy Award-winning film editor, was on hand to receive the festival’s Mid-Life Achievement Award. Her movie “Goodfellas,” winner of the Best Film of the Year from the National Society of Film Critics, was shown July 17 at the Opera House.

The newly renovated Waterville Opera House also welcomed Academy Award-nominated actress Karen Black, who sat with audience members to watch the world premiere of “VacationLand,” a Maine-made film starring Black and directed by Jamie Hook.

Black also was in attendance for a question-and-answer session after the screening of “Five Easy Pieces,” in which she co-stars with Jack Nicholson.

“We had 50-plus filmmakers who came and did Q&As and enjoyed their films, and the audience loved that. That’s what makes it a festival and not just movies,” Haines said.

On opening night, Festival Programmer Ken Eisen introduced “VacationLand,” a film about an unusual family reunion in the western mountains of Maine. The film was one of six Maine-made films to be screened for the festival.

Movie enthusiasts from all over the world came to Waterville for 10 days of films, parties and discussions with actors, producers and writers. The festival showcased about 100 American and foreign-made films at both the Opera House and Railroad Square Cinema.

There were also local boys making good at this year’s film festival.

Skowhegan Area High School graduates Ryan Brod, of Smithfield, and Daniel Sites, of Norridgewock, who now both live in Portland, teamed up to produce “Hardwater,” a documentary of the history and culture of ice fishing in Maine, which premiered at the festival.

Writer and director Damian Veilleux, 30, of Fairfield, showed you don’t need a fortune to break into the film business; $1,200 will do just fine.

His feature-length psychological thriller “The Eighteenth Hour” also premiered during the Maine International Film Festival.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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