SANFORD — Independent film buffs can see almost 80 films next week in an array of genres, as the Sanford International Film Festival returns for its fifth year.

The film festival debuts Tuesday evening with a triple feature and winds down on Oct. 21. There’s an awards ceremony Saturday night, where the “Tommy Awards,” named for Sanford textile baron Thomas Goodall, will be presented to those determined to be the best.

Films on view will be from 20 countries, including Armenia, South Korea, the U.S., Russia, Australia and a number of European countries. This year, admission for screenings is free to help mark Sanford’s 250th anniversary of incorporation, though organizers say donations are welcomed.

The complete schedule and directions for getting free movie passes, trailers, tickets for the awards ceremony and other information can be viewed at

The Sanford International Film Festival opens at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Smitty’s Cinema on Main Street, with a triple feature of what Brian Boisvert, one of the judges, called cult genre films, including the New England premiere of “Clickbait,” dubbed a horror satire, followed by “After Hours Trading” and “Ghost Mask: Scar.”

While nearly 80 films will be screened, the judges — Boisvert, Shawn Sullivan and Nathan Saunders — started with 700 submitted works.

“The judges have done so much work to put together a fresh and fun festival,” Director James Harmon said. “I love what they do. (They) are an amazing team to work with. This year we’ve added a lot, and played around with times, days, and categories that we’ve screened in the past. And arranging food and drinks, finding speakers and preparing a filmmaker panel are all exciting things that change year to year.”

“We have such a great selection of films this year,” Boisvert said. “I know everyone will have a ball, so I hope all of our surrounding communities will attend these free screenings and help us celebrate these independent filmmakers.”

Films on Wednesday will be shown from 3 to 9 p.m. at Smitty’s Cinemas and are rated PG-13 or below. The night concludes with an ice cream social at Shain’s of Maine.

Thursday’s screenings take place at Nasson Little Theatre on Main Street in Springvale and start with two documentaries, one of which is about Portland-based artist Zoo Cain. The theme changes at 8 p.m. with “SIFF After Hours,” where adult-themed films and some documentaries about burlesque performers will be screened. “Witchcraft Blue” focuses on the Maine burlesque scene.

The ever-popular Horror Friday, from noon to midnight at Smitty’s, includes a short film based on Stephen King’s story “For the Road,” a special 40th anniversary double feature of the original “Halloween” and “Halloween II,” and some Bigfoot-themed films, followed by a lecture by Loren Coleman — one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists and president of the board of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland.

The film screenings conclude Saturday at Smitty’s starting at 11 a.m. and wind down at 6:30 p.m. The screenings will be followed by the award ceremony to honor the best in the festival. This year, the catered ceremony is in the Agora performance space at the new Sanford High School and Regional Technical Center. It concludes with the world premiere of “Clutched” — a pirate film created by the Sanford High School Film Club from last year’s script-to-screen winner.

The awards ceremony is followed by the “glow-bowl” after-party at Bowl-a-Rama and lasts until midnight

Sunday screenings start at 11 a.m. at Nasson Little Theatre with a live table-read of the script-to-screen winning screenplay, followed by encore screenings of the major award-winning films.

Harmon and the judges are looking forward to the festival.

“All of the SIFF behind the scenes folks are anticipating how much people will love what we’ve planned, and we never know how it will really unfold until festival is here,” Harmon said.

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