The 3rd annual International Maritime Film Festival is pleased to announce this year’s winning films. The festival runs from Friday, September 28 through Sunday, September 30, 2018 at the historic Alamo Theatre in downtown Bucksport, Maine.
The Grand Prize winning feature-length film, “Captain of Utopia” by French filmmaker Sarah Del Ben, tells the story of François Bernard, known as “Ben”, who has explored the most remote places of the world for more than 30 years: the North Pole and the South Pole, and Mount Everest. One day, he realized that he was tired of being alone. That is the starting point of his ambitious project: ATKA. For 17 months, the boat traveled on the west coast of Greenland, carrying on board, in turn, personalities from various backgrounds—base jumpers, circus artists, teenagers, sick women and children—to discover the icecap. It is the beginning of an amazing human adventure on how the altruism and the determination of a man can change the life of a hundred others. Critics have called Captain of Utopia, “A deeply moving movie of humanity, bursting with generosity.”
The Runner-Up feature-length prize goes to “Lobster War: The Fight Over The World’s Richest Fishing Grounds,” a 2018 film by American filmmaker and Boston Globe reporter David Abel. The film is about a climate-fueled conflict between the United States and Canada over waters that both countries have claimed since the end of the Revolutionary War. The disputed 277 square miles of sea, known as the Gray Zone, were traditionally fished by US lobstermen. But as the Gulf of Maine has warmed faster than nearly any other body of water on the planet, the area’s previously modest lobster population has surged. As a result, Canadians have begun to assert their sovereignty, warring with the Americans to claim the bounty.
In the short films category, the Grand Prize is awarded to “Herring Opera,” a 2017 film by the American filmmaker Tessa Schmidt. Herring Opera is set in the small coastal town of Sitka, Alaska, where the most dramatic signal of spring is the arrival of the herring. Massive fishing boats arrive from out of town to vie for the “million dollar set,” local Alaska natives prepare to harvest herring eggs in the traditional way, and thousands of whales, seals, and eagles crowd the ocean to eat the herring. This short nonfiction film presents all the bustle of springtime in Sitka in an operatic form, using classic opera pieces as a score of this modern but timeless struggle between nature, tradition, and technology.
The Runner-Up prize in the short films category goes to “The Sea Is My Brother” by American filmmakers Shari Rothfarb Mekonen and Avishai Mekonen. This 2018 film follows the fight in Congress of WWII Merchant Marine Veterans who seek justice for being excluded from the GI Bill for the 42 years before they were legally declared veterans in 1988.
Additional films will be screened at the festival as part of the IMFF spotlight series. This year, IMFF is partnering with the Island Institute and the program will include several of their “video postcards” that capture life on Maine’s islands as well as examine the impact of climate change on island and coastal life. The 3rd annual IMFF will also include the launch of a new initiative, IMFF: Fresh Takes. Supported by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, IMFF: Fresh Takes will be year long project led by Maine-based filmmaker Jim Picariello. Beginning this fall, Jim will work with students from Bucksport High School to create films that will be debuted at the 2019 International Maritime Film Festival. The participating students will be introduced at this year’s festival and Jim will be on hand to give an exciting preview of the project.
A final program for the 3rd annual IMFF will be announced in late August. Tickets are on sale at the website, maritimefilmfestival.com. Tickets are also available at BookStacks located at 71 Main Street in Bucksport and at Archipelago located at 386 Main Street in Rockland.