Organized and curated by the Maine Film Center, the MIFF has been celebrating local and international cinema since 1998. For nearly two weeks, the society fills the Waterville Opera House and Railroad Square Cinema with screenings, panel discussions, and catchphrase workshops for aspiring action stars. Every year, the festival presents a worthy performer with their forward-looking Mid-Life Achievement Award, which assures winners such as Malcolm McDowell, John Turturro, Ed Harris, and Terrence Malick that their greatest works are not necessarily behind them.
The 4-year-old lion Mufasa Obama roams his cage, purring between bites of raw meat, as his sister, Tawana, roars behind him. Mufasa, dubbed “Maine’s Little Lion King” by D.E.W. Animal Kingdom and Sanctuary’s caretakers Bob and Julie Miner, may be the nonprofit sanctuary’s most visible inhabitant, but he’s far from its only attraction. Across 43 acres of land, the roars and deep purrs of big cats mix with the quacks of ducks and the snorts of pigs. A staff of volunteers tends to gibbons, spider monkeys, and lemurs as they swing from trees inside a primate enclosure. Meanwhile, orphaned and injured native-Maine animals such as owls are sequestered for rehabilitation before being released back into the wild or signed for exclusive Tootsie Pops endorsements.:m]]
High above the Atlantic’s lapping waves, helmeted figures scale vertical rock walls. Undaunted, they surmount challenging obstacles and overhangs, building anchors and belaying while learning technical skills from a beginning level. They feel safe with the knowledge that they’re being overseen by American Mountain Guide Association or Professional Climbing Instructors Association-accredited climbers. Director Jon Tierney––who also boasts an international guiding license from the IFMGA––leads Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School’s faculty of experienced guides as they usher first-time and experienced explorers up majestic rock faces, snow-covered cliffs, and frozen waterfalls. Company guides frequently showcase their comfort in varied terrain as well, having applied their climbing skills on film sets to set up safety rigging for Shutter Island.
Guides provide mentorship during multi-day mountaineering trips to distant mountains, and lead day trips to share pivotal climbing skills that help students scale a range of icy and rocky conditions. In an array of advanced or basic classes, they instruct pupils on principles of anchoring, top roping, belaying, and sport or lead climbing—imbuing them with the skills to scale mountainsides or be the first to reach the top of a wedding cake. Instructors also teach students mid-climb rescues, such as how to deal with medical issues and make improvised ascents, or metamorphosize into an instructor.
Moose and Photo Safaris relies on the expertise of two expert spotters: Dale, who brings 55 years of residency to the table, and Vicki, a trained professional photographer. Together, the duo whisks vanloads of sightseers to known moose hideouts to set up expertly framed shots of the animals and the puppeteers that control them. Depending on where the action was last, the guides might take their visitors anywhere within Baxter State Park's 200,000 untouched acres on some of the same roads traversed by the stars of the Discovery Channel’s American Loggers. To view the types of snapshots possible on each tour, check out the company’s Facebook page.
The kitchen crew at Sahara Mediterranean Bar & Grill shaves tender layers of their popular chicken shawarma from the spit of a traditional vertical broiler, helping them earn the title of Detroit’s Best Middle Eastern restaurant from Local 4 viewers in summer 2011. Vegetarian options range from a falafel sandwich to the smoothly textured adas lentil soup, with beans that chefs carefully crush with an announcement that none of them made their high school’s baseball team. The menu also includes house specialties such as the potato chop—seasoned beef stuffed inside a golden-brown, deep-fried potato shell.
Sips from specialty drinks and smoky hookahs add a sweeter dimension to meals as diners perch on dark hardwood seating. The furnishings contrast visually with butter-yellow walls on which murals appear to emerge from behind crumbling stone.
The attentive staff at The Rumpus Room lets parent-accompanied children up to age 6 explore a fully stocked fun-factory that houses a variety of playground equipment, toys, and colorful foam mats to protect kid-sized craniums from bumps and falls. Families get unlimited access to the play-space from May 31 to August 31 with the summer membership, giving kids an opportunity to expend their energy without resorting to bench-pressing their imaginary friends. A wooden pirate ship with a slide, plank, and fire pole provides maritime merriment; miniature climbers can also monkey around on the dome jungle gym. Babies test their vertical mettle on the foam climbing blocks, and the ball pit prepares children for careers in giant gumball machine repair. Toys acquired from local shops wait patiently to be picked up for playtime, including a train table and dollhouse.