Rachel Paradis is shown in an image from the short documentary “See You in April.” The documentary will be shown as part of the Maine International Film Festival in Waterville. Paradis and her husband, Don Paradis, for decades owned North Street Dairy Cone in Waterville. The film documents the time, effort and dedication it took for the Paradis family to establish a small business that became a landmark in the region. Submitted photo

WATERVILLE — On sunny days, after afternoons spent playing soccer or splashing around in the pool, filmmaker Alec Helm remembers frequenting North Street Dairy Cone for a scoop of ice cream.

A short documentary created by Waterville native Alec Helm titled “See You in April” will be shown at the Maine International Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Alec Helm

To Helm and many in Waterville, the ice cream shop is an institution. It opened 58 years ago at 127 North St., across from the Alfond Youth and Community Center and the North Street Recreation Area. For decades it was run by husband-and-wife team Don and Rachel Paradis.

Helm graduated from Waterville Senior High School, then left town for New York and eventually Los Angeles to pursue a career in filmmaking. He said he frequently finds himself drawn to his upbringing in Central Maine for creative inspiration.

His first feature film, “The Kings,” was a project he brainstormed with his high school friends and shot the year after graduating college. That film premiered at the Maine International Film Festival in 2009. He said the success he had with “The Kings” led him to a freelance career filming commercials, features and documentaries in Maine and across the globe.

Helm, 38, now returns to his roots and to MIFF again with his latest project, a 17-minute documentary called “See You in April” profiling Dairy Cone as a local mainstay that continues to flourish despite all the changes and development occurring around it in Waterville.

The film’s story is told primarily by Don and Rachel Paradis, he said. He hopes audiences are taken on an “emotional ride” as the couple guides them through the long, storied history of the ice cream shop — amid a swirl of changes as mills closed, new industries took root and the downtown was reinvigorated. Although the Paradis family has since sold Dairy Cone, it endures under new ownership.


Margaret Chapin, center, eats an ice cream cone while talking with her wife, Virginia Hassell, at the North Street Dairy Cone in Waterville in May. The ice cream stand was operated for decades by the Paradis family and their story is being told in a short documentary, “See You in April,” that’s being shown at the Maine International Film Festival. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

“It’s pretty much a profile of the business, and also a little bit about Waterville and how Waterville has changed over the years,” Helm said Friday, ahead of the film’s premiere at MIFF Saturday. “One of the people I interviewed for the film, he says it’s good to have local institutions. Change is good, but there needs to be things that you can tie your anchor to, is what he says.”

“See You in April” will have two screenings over the festival’s two weekends. The annual, 10-day festival draws thousands of film enthusiasts to the region — and for the first time this year will bring people right into the heart of Waterville at the Paul J. Schupf Art Center downtown.

“When I heard we were getting in MIFF, I was overjoyed,” Helm said. “Of all the festivals I submitted to, this was the one I wanted it to go to the most … I think this audience will appreciate it more than probably any other audience could.”

The first showing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at the Waterville Opera House, and the second will be at 3 p.m. the following Saturday, July 15, at the Schupf Art Center.

See You In April – Trailer from A.V.Helm on Vimeo.

The full MIFF schedule, ticket information and related details can be found at miff.org.

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