Like many, I have struggled with 2020 and its unprecedented international health crisis, overdue reckoning with systemic racism, and political turmoil. And, also like many, in these months of great uncertainty and social isolation I have turned to film and television for inspiration, insight, and, yes, humor to help navigate the challenges facing our society. As a cinema studies professor, it is my privilege to be able to do this professionally, working with students to understand the world we live in through the unique lens offered by cinema. In my Film Language seminar this semester, we’ve analyzed racism through the competing visions of Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman and D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, the oppression of the working class in Sergei Eisenstein’s Strike, and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of great adversity in Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I am immensely grateful for the contributions of these filmmakers and acutely aware that, in 2020, the ability of contemporary independent filmmakers to produce their own innovative work has been significantly compromised by the challenges we face as a society.
The MFA is dedicated to supporting that work, and for that reason I am reaching out to you today to ask for your support in what is an especially challenging period for non-profit organizations for the arts. This year end, please make a donation to the MFA to sustain our work into 2020.
At first thought, it feels like our 2020 accomplishments pale in comparison to previous years, but I take great pride in what we’ve been able to provide as resources to Maine filmmakers during this tumultuous time. Since March we have:
- Hosted virtual Community Check-Ins to help keep isolation blues at bay.
- Provided information on crisis relief resources;
- Surveyed the film community to learn the economic impact of the pandemic on the Maine film industry;
- Communicated the findings of the survey to the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future and Maine Film Office, and met with state officials to discuss the potential of the media sector in Maine and ways in which the state can support it;
- Organized the Antidote collaborative film project to capture Maine filmmakers’ take on the pandemic;
- Instructed a virtual Postproduction Bootcamp focused on using Davinci Resolve to wrap up our suite of 2020 bootcamps;
- Celebrated Maine’s bicentennial with The Maine Outdoor Film Festival through a special outdoor screening of Maine-made films;
- Assembled Reopening Resources of state, national, and international guidelines for getting back to work during the pandemic.
Looking ahead to 2021, the MFA will spend this time while we’re physically distancing to focus on our strategic planning for the coming 3 years. This will require input from each of you. We will be conducting focus groups, interviews, and a broad-reaching survey to gather your insights into the current and future states of filmmaking in Maine, and to help craft the direction of the Maine Film Association to best serve the Maine film community. This will help us frame out goals for the coming years, and the many steps we need to take to achieve them.
I joined the board of the MFA in 2016 in the hope of connecting my students to Maine’s growing community of filmmakers. Over the last four years, we’ve worked hard at the MFA to support the ongoing growth of that community through the kinds of initiatives and activities described above. As a Maine-based educator I’ve been proud to see those efforts rewarded as more and more of my students find opportunities to pursue careers in filmmaking right here in Maine. They’re discovering what many of us already know: that Maine can be a great place to live and work as a filmmaker. Please help the MFA continue to grow Maine’s filmmaking community today by contributing financially to the organization.
On behalf of the MFA Board of Directors, we sincerely appreciate all your support of this organization and for being a part of the MFA community.
Vice President, MFA
This massage’s banner contains stills from the Antidote Collaborative Film Project, 16 short films created by Maine filmmakers, crafted to reflect their take on the pandemic, how they’ve passed time in isolation, and the joys, sorrows, and revelations that this time has afforded.