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Excerpts from Feature-length Documentary on North Pond Hermit to Screen at MIFF
07/18/2013   Reported By: Tom Porter
Christopher Knight, the North Pond Hermit

The saga of the so-called North Pond hermit garnered national attention earlier this year. 47-year Christopher Knight hit the headlines when he was arrested and charged with theft. He subsequently confessed to more than a thousand burglaries in that part of the Maine woods where he had been living as a hermit for 27 years, surviving in a makeshift camp hidden among the trees and living for the most part on stolen food. Knight is now in custody undergoing a mental health evaluation.

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North Pond Hermit Film in the Works Listen
 Duration:
4:36

Lena FriedrichHis story is the subject of a feature-length documentary film, titled Hermythology, currently being made by New York-based film-maker Lena Friedrich. A 30 minute excerpt of the film is being screened this weekend in Waterville at the Maine International Film Festival, as part of a Works-in-Progress" event. Friedrich, who's originally from France, said when she first heard the story of the North Pond hermit she was immediately fascinated.

"And soon I realized that I wasn't the only one to be fascinated by him," said Friedrich. "So as much as the mystery surrounding Christopher Knight and his story, I was interested by how strongly people responded to him, and that's really what prompted me to do this film."

The film shows local residents had no shortage of opinion when Knight's mugshot was released.

[excerpt from Hermythology]: "He had a nice full face, and glasses, and he was clean-shaven."
"He looked like some kind of a weird alien child abuser, to me. You know he didn't really look that human, he looked like he was staring off into."
"I guess you don't get a second take. The cops don't take your picture and look and say, 'No let's do that again, you don't look good.'

Lena Friedrich said when she traveled to central Maine three months ago to interview people shortly after Knight's arrest, she became aware that this was more than just a quirky story, she felt she witnessing the birth of a legend.

"The way people talk about him, you know constantly adding new layers of understanding to the story, and it's quite a unique thing when you think about it to see the creation of a modern legend," Friedrich said.

In fact a legend of sorts had already been created before Christopher Knight was discovered. For decades local authorities in Kennebec County had suspected someone was stealing food and other items from summer camps around North Pond, about 20 miles west of Waterville.

When Knight was finally arrested in April, allegedly trying to steal from a camp, he told police he simply decided to walk away from his family, his home and civilization when he was 20 years old. Since then hes lived a solitary life and said he's spoken to one just other person during all that time.

Police were struck by the neat and orderly nature of Knight's personal campsite. And he appears to have been equally fastidious as a burglar. Alleged victim Debbie Baker said she used to have a big bowl at her camp containing various snacks.

"There was little chocolate bars in there, Hershey kisses, lollipops, some hard candy, some loose change, Slim Jims," said Baker. "He took every slim jim and every chocolate out of there and left the rest. I mean we're talking a huge bowl, he had to handpick all those chocolates."

Film-maker Lena Friedrich said while Hermythology attempts to pass no moral judgment on the North Pond hermit, she feels sympathy towards both Christopher Knight and his victims.

"Of course I condemn the burglaries" said Friedrich. "I just think that he decided to live a solitary life, and that in today society when we're all hyper-connected on the computers and on our cellphones, it's very hard and challenging to understand why someone decided to live like that and to accept it."

Hermythology, or rather a 30 minute excerpt from it, is being screened at the Maine International Film Festival in Waterville on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 pm.

In the interests of full disclosure, MPBN is a sponsor of the Maine International Film Festival.

Photos were submitted.

 

Hermythology website

 

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