WATERVILLE — Twin 17-year-old sisters took home the Maine Public grand prize Saturday during 41st annual Maine Student Film & Video Festival, a part of the Maine International Film Festival.

Isabelle and Phoebe Rogers, home-schooled students from Temple, in Franklin County, were recognized for their short film “Searching for Spring,” a whimsical tale of the elfin fairies of winter and spring meeting for the first time somewhere in the transition of the seasons.

The girls each received $500 for their work, which they wrote, edited and directed; in which they starred; and for which they created the music.

“Our inspiration was kind of just in our imagination. We really like filmmaking with fantasy work,” said Phoebe Rogers, who played the white elf of winter, dancing spritelike through the snow. “We’re in our imagination a lot and we love doing that kind of thing with filmmaking. We love experimenting with film.”

Sister Isabelle Rogers agreed, noting that they love nature, too.

“We kind of just got inspired by the things that we usually do, anyway. We’re visual artists and musicians,” she said, noting that some of the music for the film was done with an enchanting penny whistle and wind chimes. “It’s wonderful to get this award. We worked really hard, and it’s good that it paid off.”

The girls said they don’t know what they will do for careers yet, but that there’s still plenty of time to decide.

“We’re kind of just experimenting at the moment, but, yeah, we want to keep going because it’s really fun,” Phoebe Rogers said. “We have so many fun things that we love to do.”

Saturday’s event was sponsored by Maine Public and the Maine Film Center. Dave Boardman, education program director at Maine Public, was the master of ceremonies.

For more than 40 years, the Maine Student Film & Video Festival has given young filmmakers from across Maine opportunities to pursue their passion for creating narrative, documentary, experimental, and animated films.

The first Maine Student Film & Video Conference, held in March of this year, was a full-day event that offered a slate of hands-on workshops for middle and high school students in narrative and documentary filmmaking, broadcasting, photography, and a variety of technical production skills. Educators had access to professional workshops and presentations focused on teaching and learning with film in the classroom. Experts in these fields from across the state of Maine worked with small groups to provide individualized instruction.

Huey Coleman, of Portland, was the founder of the student festival 41 years ago. He said that while the technology has changed much in the past four decades, the talent and imagination of Maine’s high school students has kept pace with the changes.

He said MIFF took over the student festival in 2016.

“When it first started, we had a lot of really young people — K through 8 — and that sort of dropped off, and now it’s all high school and a couple of middle school films,” Coleman said. “The technology’s changed a lot — we started with film — Super 8 file and separate audio tapes. But I think the ideas that students are doing actually are some of the more creative and experimental ones today, like the grand prize (winner); but because of the technology today and the ease of getting at it, the quality of the work has just shot up dramatically over the years.”

The Huey Award this year went to Luc Houle, for his four short experimental films: “Drip,” “The Walk,” “The Lamp” and “Night Lights.”

Other awards were given out Saturday in the middle school category, as well as narrative, documentary, experimental, and the new Good Video Citizenship category, which had public service videos about unified basketball, solving the state’s nursing shortage and Shine on Cass, a foundation named for Cassidy Charette, a 17-year-old Messalonskee High School student who was killed in a hayride accident in 2014. She was a four-time honor student and regular contributor on the girls’ varsity soccer team.

The Maine International Film Festival wraps up its 10-day run on Sunday with a screening of the closing night film, “Support the Girls,” a comedy about a group of women who work at a sports bar beside a highway. It will screen at 7 p.m. at the Waterville Opera House.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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