The Maine International Film Festival in Waterville will kick off its 18th year with the Maine premiere of Tumbledown, a feature length film set in western Maine. Portland-based filmmakers Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw debuted their film at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and now look forward to presenting it to a Maine audience. The opening night screening of Tumbledown will be held Friday, July 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Waterville Opera House.
“Sean and I are thrilled that Tumbledown will have its Maine premiere at the Maine International Film Festival. This script was written in a spirit of celebration of the community of western Maine that raised me, and after years of striving to make this hometown movie, we cannot wait to share it with the people who inspired it,” says Van Til.
In Tumbledown, a young widow (Rebecca Hall), falls for a brash New York writer (Jason Sudeikis) who barrels into her rural Maine town investigating the death of her husband, folk-music hero Hunter Miles (voiced by Damien Jurado). Hannah is scraping her life back together in a cabin at the foot of Tumbledown mountain, attempting to seal every shred of her husband’s life into a biography. When Andrew, an academic who has a different take on Hunter’s life and death, shows up looking for the truth of this mysterious musician, the pair clash. But gradually they find themselves collaborating to craft Hunter’s story, and beginning to write the next chapter of their lives together. The film also stars Blythe Danner, Griffin Dunne, Joe Manganiello, and Diana Agron.
According to Mewshaw, “Desi and I were just dating in LA when she began writing long swaths of dialogue between a girl from rural New England and a boy from New York, exploring questions about quality of life, weighing the invigorating energy and culture of the city against the inspiring natural spaces and solitude afforded by her native Maine.” Since the first draft of Tumbledown, Van Til and Mewshaw got engaged, married, moved to Maine, and had two children. Nearly a decade later, their indie film has garnered positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. Following its Tribeca premiere, Tumbledown was purchased for distribution by Starz and will have nationwide release on Valentine’s Day 2016.
Van Til has fond memories of growing up in Maine and credits local movie houses as influencing her love of film. “As a kid, there were two movie theatres in my life: one was, of course, Farmington’s Narrow Gauge, and the other was Railroad Square Cinema. I can still remember those many drives home from Waterville as my parents and I would talk about whatever wonderful independent or foreign film we’d just seen. It means a great deal to me to screen Tumbledown in a festival affiliated with Railroad Square since it was such an influential part of my cultural education growing up.”
While the full line-up of this year’s MIFF has yet to be announced, organizers say that Tumbledown is one of several feature films made in or about Maine. “Inspired by Maine and created by young, Maine-based filmmakers, this is a smart, warm, funny film that our audience is going to love,” says Festival Director Shannon Haines, adding, “We really couldn’t ask for more in an opening night film!”