Lea Girardin, a pillar in the Maine film community for over 30 years, will be recognized with the Executive Producer’s Award on Saturday at the Gala Awards Dinner as part of this year’s Lewiston Auburn Film Festival.
“The Executive Producer’s Award is given to someone we feel has forwarded the cause of independent film in Maine or best exemplifies the spirit of independent film,” said LAFF Chair Sandra Marquis. “Lea Girardin is at the top of the list in both of those categories.”
Girardin’s first major contribution came in 1978 when she, along with a small group of friends that had formed a film society, opened the Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville, after seeing a need for foreign and independent film wasn’t being met in that part of the state.
A decade later, the Maine Film Office launched in 1988 with Girardin at the helm. Through this post, Girardin has played a pivotal role in the growth of film in Maine and the state’s film industry. As director of the Maine Film Office, she was responsible for marketing Maine as a site for all forms of production, from feature films to catalog shoots.
Girardin assisted projects as the liaison between communities, other state departments and production companies. She was also active in supporting the growth of the local production industry.
Along with a myriad of television shows, commercials, music videos and catalog shoots coordinated by Girardin, such feature films as “Forrest Gump”, “Empire Falls” and “The Man Without A Face” were shot in Maine during her tenure at the Maine Film Office.
Seeing a void in the film festival scene in Maine, Girardin teamed with many of her Railroad Square Cinema partners in 1998 to help create the Maine International Film Festival, which has become a mid-summer tradition in Waterville drawing film fans from all over the world.
Girardin recently stepped down from her post at the Maine Film Office but continues to advocate for Maine to attract and incentivize filmmakers into considering the Pine Tree State for their projects.
“Without the groundwork Lea Girardin laid over the last several decades, there may not be the audience, nor the filmmakers, for something like the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival. Anybody who loves this state and loves film owes her a debt of gratitude,” said Marquis.
The Lewiston Auburn Film Festival will take place on April 13, 14 and 15. The festival weekend opens with a special concert with Don McLean at the Franco American Heritage Center in Lewiston.
On Saturday, movie screenings will take place at nine venues across Lewiston-Auburn. The events on Saturday will culminate with a Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony at the Hilton Garden Inn Auburn Riverwatch.
On Sunday, the “Best of the Best” at the Public Theater will feature a selection of the winning films from the previous night’s award show. Ticket prices range from $22 to $79. For tickets and complete information, see www.lafilmfestival.org or call (207) 713-4672.