BUCKSPORT — Last month, the economic development group Main Street Bucksport received a $2,000 grant from the Maine Community Foundation to play additional International Maritime Film Festival screenings in the winter, spring and summer of 2018.
“We’re excited because it seems like a great way to keep the enthusiasm for the film festival going in a year-round way,” said Brook Minner, executive director of Main Street Bucksport.
Each September for the past two years, the International Maritime Film Festival, a joint venture between Main Street Bucksport and the Brooklin-based WoodenBoat Publications Inc., has attracted dozens of visitors to the Alamo Theatre in Bucksport for a weekend of documentary films focused on maritime history, culture or science.
“The maritime theme is broad, so when people come to the festival they really find something for everyone,” Minner said. “We’ve had films that are biopics about interesting yacht builders or films about environmental issues that impact the ocean or films with a historical lens.”
The new screenings, called IMFF OFF-SEASON, will be shorter than the fall festival, with only one film screened at each of the three events. Though an official schedule is yet to be determined, Minner said she envisions a screening held in February, April and June.
There could be a mix of short- and feature-length documentaries, she added. Unlike the fall festival, there will be no jury or prize for any of the winter and spring films.
Perhaps most importantly, the grant ensures that the screenings will be offered free of charge.
Minner hopes the additional screenings and free tickets will help raise awareness for the fall festival. Minner said 90 tickets were sold for the festival’s first year, and 120 were sold the second year. Some of the festival-goers came from as far as Texas, Canada and Washington, she said.
“Part of the goal is to provide a boost to the Bucksport economy in the fall, when things have quieted down a little bit,” said the executive director, whose volunteer group works to promote a vibrant downtown by supporting new and existing businesses and cultural events.
“And it introduces people to Bucksport who might not know all the great things going on here,” she added.
The grant, titled The Maine Expansion Arts Fund, is the result of a collaborative effort between the National Endowment for the Arts, Lillian M. Berliawsky Charitable Trust, Maine Community Foundation and Maine Arts Commission.
The grant provides funding for only one year of additional screenings. Since the Alamo Theatre seats only 125 people, Minner said it is vital to develop corporate sponsorships to keep the festival going.
“With the size of the theater, you can’t sell enough in tickets to make up the cost,” she said.
The first festival was largely supported by a $10,000 grant from the Maine Community Foundation, Minner said. Though that grant only lasted one year, the second festival still managed to raise $3,000 in revenue.
“Our highest sponsors last year were Brooklin Boatyard, Front Street Shipyard, Yachting Solutions and several smaller local donors,” Minner said.
The director said she hopes to announce an official schedule for the screenings in January. She also said she hopes to screen foreign-made documentaries, which are often hard to find outside of big cities.
“We’re committed to getting really wonderful maritime films,” she continued. “It’s incredible how many great films are being made out there.”