Maine Film Center, the parent organization of the Maine International Film Festival (MIFF), is taking a giant step forward in advancing its mission “to enrich, educate and entertain the community through film and art” with its planned purchase of Waterville’s Railroad Square Cinema. Maine Film Center has partnered with the Cinema for 15 years to stage MIFF, the state’s premier film festival, and other special programs including MIFF in the Morning and the American Film Institute's Project 20/20.
Maine Film Center's plans for the cinema include the purchase and installation of new industry-required digital projection equipment, cosmetic improvements to the theater, increased special programming, and new audience cultivation initiatives. Shannon Haines (Director of the Maine Film Center) said that Maine Film Center also aims to preserve the qualities that have made Railroad Square Cinema such a vital part of the community since its opening in 1978.
Railroad Square Cinema was one of the original 12 independent cinemas in the country invited to participate in the Sundance Film Institute's Art House Project, an initiative that now brings together hundreds of representatives from across the country to share best practices at the annual Art House Convergence. According to surveys of convergence participants, 70-80% of art houses are 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations, as is Maine Film Center. Because of its nonprofit status, Maine Film Center will be able to assure individuals and businesses that contribute to its initiatives that their donations will be tax-deductible and to apply for grants for which Railroad Square Cinema was previously ineligible.
Maine Film Center will purchase the cinema in mid-December. Installation of digital equipment is scheduled for January of 2013 and further improvements are expected to continue throughout the spring. In January, Maine Film Center will also launch a new Monday Night Movies series at the Waterville Opera House, where the organization recently installed 35mm film projection equipment as part of the Opera House renovations. The series features four of the top 50 films of all time as voted in Sight & Sound magazine's 2012 poll and will kick off with Alfred Hitchcock's classic Vertigo on January 28.