April 5, 2017
By Shawn Sullivan
SANFORD — Like any good sequel, the Sanford International Film Festival will return — but this time in October.
The festival will be held from Wednesday, Oct. 18, through Sunday Oct. 22, here in Sanford. The festival, or SIFF as it is known, previously staked out the last week of May since it first premiered in 2014. James Harmon, the festival’s director, explained the move earlier this week.
“(October) seems a more festive time of the year, and a great time to see movies,” he said. “Our traditional weekend at the end of May was looking difficult for many of our staff and crowded with local events, so we thought we’d mix it up a bit.”
Moving the festival to that spookiest of months also allows SIFF to play up its most popular annual attraction: Horror Night.
“We would like to highlight our horror-themed events a little more, and we thought it would make sense to move closer to Halloween,” Harmon said. “We’re working out the details for a costume contest with a cash prize.”
This will be the festival’s fourth outing. The Horror Nights of the second and third festivals proved big draws. The second SIFF featured a special screening of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” at Smitty’s Cinemas and included a special guest appearance by the actor Gunnar Hansen, who played “Leatherface” in that horror classic. At last year’s festival, actress Anne Bobby made a special appearance at a screening of her film “Night Breed,” written and directed by horror legend Clive Barker; Bobby also starred in two other films shown during the festival, one of which, “Suffer the Little Children,” was shot here in Sanford.
Not a horror fan? Not to worry. The festival traditionally offers all genres of film during its usual five-day stretch — comedy, drama, documentary, suspense thrillers, family fare, you name it. Movies from filmmakers in Maine and throughout the U.S. and the world are shown. Student films are also highlighted.
According to Harmon, 400 films from 45 countries have so far been submitted to the festival and are being considered for inclusion by a panel of judges.
“We are far outpacing our submissions from last year,” Harmon said. “We have a panel of 10 judges, whose tastes are vastly different. They are all extremely attentive to detail and love watching films very much.”
The festival’s committee is continuing to work on new ideas and surprises for this fall’s event. The festival will include the annual awards night, which this year will be held at the Sanford Town Club on Washington Street. During this event, filmmakers and performers are awarded as the best in their categories and, in some cases, are presented with a Tommy — SIFF’s equivalent of an Oscar, a small statue modeled after the statue of Thomas Goodall, the city’s historic benefactor, in Central Park.
For more information about SIFF, you can “like” the Sanford International Film Festival Page on Facebook.
Editor’s Note. Sanford News Editor Shawn Sullivan is on the Sanford International Film Festival Committee and is one of the judges.