The 18th Maine International Film Festival closed on Sunday and unveiled the winner of its audience favorite award, with Astraea and Come To My Voice tied as the MIFF audience’s favorite.
“We’re thrilled that MIFF audiences once again were adventurous and enthusiastic about exploring and discussing films from around the world,” said Festival Director Shannon Haines. “We had a fabulous slate of guests and an incredible array of films for MIFF audiences to enjoy. We look forward to seeing you all next year”
In the film Astraea, directed by Kristjan Thor, – when an epidemic nearly wipes out the human race, a telepathic teenage girl named Astraea has visions of survivors living in New Brunswick. She leads her doubting brother on a 5000-mile journey through a silent and abandoned America into the snowbound wilderness, hoping to rebuild life as she knew it. As they head north, her clairvoyance intensifies and they encounter a wary young couple, homesteading on a remote lake in Western Maine. The grief and complexity—as well as the excitement and comfort—of encountering other normal humans pits itself against Astraea’s desire to keep moving and find her family. This post-apocalyptic film, spectacularly shot in wintry Maine landscapes, uses sensitivity and intellect rather than special effects to show not what humanity is running from, but what we’re running towards.
In Come To My Voice, directed by Hüseyin Karabey, which takes place in a snowy Kurdish mountain village, in the east of Turkey, an old woman Berfé and her granddaughter Jiyan are distressed. The only man in the household, Temo, the son of one and the father of the other, was arrested by the Turkish military. The commanding officer has been told that the villagers are hiding weapons, so he arrested all the men and announced that they will be kept in prison until their families hand over the weapons. The problem is that there are no weapons in the village. Desperate, Berfé and Jiyan embark on a long journey, in search of a gun which they could exchange for their beloved Temo. Will the old woman and her innocent granddaughter find a way out of the inextricable Kurdish identity conflict?
Learning To Drive and Samba were tied for second place and Au Bord du Monde came in third place for the audience favorite award. Forty-four of the 47 films eligible for the award received at least one vote.
Acclaimed actor Michael Murphy was presented the Mid-Life Achievement Award in honor of his diverse career that includes a long-time collaboration with director Robert Altman and work with Woody Allen, P.T. Anderson, Elia Kazan and Oliver Stone. MIFF screened the U.S. premiere of Murphy’s new film Fall before the award presentation on July 16.
For the first time, MIFF hosted the World Filmmakers’ Forum through a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. Filmmakers from France, Argentina, Turkey and Mexico will show their work and discuss their creative process and the state of international film.