Downeast

Downeast

Directed by: David Redmon & Ashley Sabin
78 minutes

New England Premiere


In 2010, the last sardine-canning factory in the United States—the Stinson Seafood cannery in Prospect Harbor, Maine—closed its doors, devastating the already economically depressed area and laying off 130 workers, some of whom had worked at the facility for 40 years or more.

Enter Antonio Bussone, an Italian immigrant and owner of a Boston-based seafood company, who decides to buy the factory and convert it into a lobster-processing facility. Where others see the end of an era, Antonio sees opportunity: not only to build a new business, but also to bring exported jobs back to New England and revitalize a region. In a time when most US industries have moved offshore, Antonio’s idea seems almost foolhardy, but it galvanizes the community and makes him into a local hero. Still, Antonio will have to overcome small-town politics and overwhelming financial odds to see his dream to fruition.

The latest from repeat IFFBoston alums David Redmon and Ashley Sabin (also bringing GIRL MODEL to this year’s festival) meditates on numerous relevant issues: the demise of American industry, the struggles of the small-business owner, and the plight of an aging workforce that can’t afford to retire. But what makes the film truly riveting is the stalwart vision of the many colorful characters—from the proud factory laborers to the grizzled lobstermen to the outsider willing to sacrifice everything—who rally together and try to keep a sinking ship afloat.

—Kristina Aikens