WATERVILLE — On its 75th anniversary, Walt Disney’s “Bambi” and its numerous Maine connections will be commemorated as the Centerpiece Gala, July 19, during the 20th annual Maine International Film Festival, according to a news release from Waterville Creates!

MIFF will screen a rare 35mm “three-strip” Technicolor print from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences’ at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 19, at the Waterville Opera House.

Following the screening, Academy, Emmy and Peabody Award-winning animator and internationally recognized author, teacher, and animation historian and curator John Canemaker will provide insights into the film in a conversation moderated by Lauren Lessing, Mirken Curator of Education at the Colby College Museum of Art. The Centerpiece Gala Film is sponsored by Camden National Bank.

While not specifically stated in the film, historical evidence points to Bambi being set in Maine. The film has a number of fascinating connections to the state:

• Academy Award-winning composer Frank Churchill (”Bambi,” “Dumbo,” “Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs”) came from Rumford. For “Bambi” he received two Oscar nominations: musical score and the song Love is a Song.

• Two orphaned fawns — given the names Bambi and Filene — were sent by Maine Development Commission on a train to Hollywood where they acted as live models for the animators. The deer lived at the Disney Studio for several years during production — growing into adulthood there — until they were found a permanent home in LA’s Griffith Park.

• Disney staff artist and Damariscotta native Maurice “Jake” Day was sent by Walt Disney back to his home state in 1938 to extensively photograph the Mt. Katahdin and Baxter State Park region — animals, plants, settings, and seasons — to be used in the film’s overall visual development and art direction.

“We are delighted to welcome Bambi back home to Maine and celebrate these two important anniversaries: ‘Bambi’s’ 75th and MIFF’s 20th,” said MIFF Festival Director Shannon Haines, according to the release. “We are also thrilled to be hosting John Canemaker, a legendary animation historian, who will have fascinating behind-the-scenes stories about the making of this pioneering masterpiece.”

Canemaker also will present a special talk, titled Bambi and the Art of Tyrus Wong at noon Tuesday, July 18, at the Colby College Museum of Art for those interested in learning more about the film before viewing it on Wednesday night. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.miff.org.

Tickets for “Bambi” are $14 ($8 for children 13 and younger) and are available online.


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