WATERVILLE — A film shot along the Maine coast and described as a mix of dark humor, suspense and saltiness is the opening night film for the 22nd annual Maine International Film Festival, which runs July 12-21 at Railroad Square Cinema and the Waterville Opera House.

The New England premiere of “Blow the Man Down” will be shown at 6:30 p.m. July 12 at the Opera House as the first major event of the 10-day festival, which draws thousands of film enthusiasts from around the world to view what organizers call the best of American independent and international cinema. A reception will follow at 8:30 p.m. under the stars in Castonguay Square, featuring the music of the Maine jam band, Muddy Ruckus, according to a MIFF press release issued Monday.

Written and directed by Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, “Blow the Man Down” was filmed in and around Harpswell, Cundy’s Harbor, Bailey Island, Orr’s Island and Phippsburg and stars Morgan Saylor, Sophie Lowe, Margo Martindale, Will Brittain, Gayle Rankin and Annette O’Toole. It is set in Easter Cove, a fictional fishing village on the Maine coast.

“Grieving the loss of their mother and facing an uncertain future, Mary Beth and Priscilla Connolly cover up a gruesome run-in with a dangerous man,” the release says of the film. “To conceal their crime, the sisters must go deeper into Easter Cove’s underbelly and uncover the town matriarchs’ darkest secrets.”

Mike Perreault, executive director of the Maine Film Center and festival director, said the film provides a great kickoff for the 10-day event, which showcases nearly 100 films. The festival is a Film Center project.

“With so many Maine films and filmmakers in the spotlight this year, it is important to us to celebrate Maine and its scenic and cultural beauty at MIFF, and we believe our Opening Night Celebration will do just that,” Perreault said.


Also during the festival, director and writer Hilary Brougher will be honored with the Mid-Life Achievement Award. Previous award winners include Sissy Spacek, Ed Harris, John Turturro, Bud Cort, Peter Fonda, Glenn Close, Lili Taylor, Terrence Malik, Keith Carradine, Lauren Hutton, Thelma Schoonmaker, Arthur Penn, Walter Hill, Jos Stelling, Malcolm McDowell, Jonathan Demme, Michael Murphy, Jay Cocks, Robert Benton, Gabriel Byrne and Dominique Sanda.

Brougher’s film, “South Mountain,” will be screened at the Opera House at 6:30 p.m. July 14, which will be followed by the award ceremony.

The festival calls “South Mountain” a “meditation on a particular sort of love that grows in the wreckage of broken things.”

Lila, portrayed by Talia Balsam, is an artist and teacher who has built a modest rural paradise in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her husband, Edgar, a writer portrayed by Scott Cohen, according to the MIFF release:

“The two have been married for two decades. But then Scott unexpectedly announces the birth of a child with another woman, and Lila tests her bonds to her best friend Gigi and begins a friendship with a younger man. All is changing, or so it seems. Set in the lush span of a single summer, the film is a portrait of a woman at a moment of loss and reconfiguration. Something new is being birthed — perhaps.”

Brougher, of New York City, is a faculty member in the MFA Film Program at Columbia University School of the Arts. Her first film, “The Sticky Fingers of Time,” was released in 1996. “Stephanie Daley,” which she wrote and directed, was released in 2006 and won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival. She also won best director for the film at the Milan International Film Festival, and actor Amber Tamblyn won best actress for her role in the film at the Locarno International Film Festival.

A short film program, workshops, receptions, question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers and more are on tap for the festival, which also features MIFFONEDGE, an experiential and experimental art and film exhibition.

Festival passes and tickets may be purchased at MIFF.org, which also lists film schedules and locations.

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