Movie poster for “Lewiston.” Submitted photo

LEWISTON – A week after a 2018 brawl at Kennedy Park left one man dead and the community roiling, two Harvard University seniors rolled into town with the idea of making a documentary about its ethnic and racial divisions.

One of them, David Shayne, said Friday he “will never forget that first impression, that first feeling of walking around” in a place he’d never visited before, seeing the classic old mills and the cultural splashes of a remade city.

He called it “a pretty unique American experience” — an experience the two men delved into for their 18-minute movie “Lewiston,” which will be shown at the Bates Film Festival on Thursday.

Another film on tap the same day, “A Shared Space – Lewiston,” offers an “immersive 360-degree experience” that follows two people “who were raised in a refugee camp in eastern Kenya but now call Lewiston home.”

A still from “Lewiston.” Submitted photo

For their film “Lewiston,” Shayne teamed up with Harvard classmate Jacob Roberts, who said he was familiar with Lewiston because his cousin works for the fire department. So he knew about its Somali community and some of the friction that’s perhaps inevitable when thousands of refugees arrive in a small city.

The filmmakers’ goal, Roberts said, was to create “a portrait of the town” and some of its people, not something focused on that one bad night downtown.


A still from “Lewiston.” Submitted photo

It’s not a long movie so it captures only glimpses of a few people and places, providing a sense of their lives, particularly one friend of the dead man trying to deal with his grief.

Roberts, a Washington, D.C. native, said living in the city and making the documentary during the summer before their final year of college was “a strange and intensely emotional experience” for both men.

Shayne, who is from Tennessee, said it helped reinforce the idea of just how complicated stories can be in real life, how they wax and wane.

Still from “Lewiston.” Submitted photo

Plus, he said, “stories don’t really end,” but movies must.

“Lewiston” will be shown as one of four short documentaries at 4 p.m. Thursday in Room 104 at Olin Hall at the college.

The virtual reality screening is slated to air in Chase Hall’s Room B18 from 1-3 p.m. Thursday.

The entire festival at Bates, which includes 25 films, is free and open to the public. It runs from Wednesday to Sunday. Details are available online at

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