Seafolk are a uniquely resilient bunch. Growing up in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the oldest seaport in the country, I learned prosperity and precarity can alternate like the tide for fishermen. The danger of commercial fishing also means coastal communities often bequeath a cultural inheritance of grief.
These elements drew me with great curiosity to The Long Coast. This lyrical documentary focuses on the coastal dwellers of Maine as they face uncertainty connected to fishing industry shifts, climate change and more. It’s now screening virtually at Salem Film Fest, the largest international documentary film festival in Massachusetts.
As part of Salem Film Fest’s virtual event program, I spoke with director Ian Cheney and executive producer Robyn Metcalfe about the film’s meditative narrative structure, blend of hopeful and foreboding tones, and overall choice to highlight the unvarnished day-to-day work of Mainers connected to the ocean rather than impose a thesis. This approach trusts the viewer to make their own conclusions.