Camden Film Festival Hosts Top Doc Filmmakers And Emerging Talents –

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When September rolls around, it means one thing for many of the world’s top filmmakers – time to hit the road. Venice, Telluride and Toronto follow in quick succession. But for documentary filmmakers looking to showcase their work, there’s another important stop in September: the Camden International Film Festival in Midcoast Maine.

“We’re strategically aligned to be right after Toronto and the week after Telluride, and we’re just the documentary,” emphasizes Ben Foley, festival founder and executive director of the Points North Institute, which Stages the CIFF. “In terms of being able to highlight some of the big ones [awards] Contestants, so to speak, we can do it in a way that brings them to the center stage… It’s a moment for us to recognize the incredible artistry behind the documentaries that we’re going to talk about at the end. are year or the beginning of the following year.


Camden International Film Festival logo

Online iteration of 18Th The Camden International Film Festival concludes today with a 10-day schedule. The in-person segment concluded last Sunday night, a four-day rush that included some of the biggest names in documentaries and films with serious potential for Oscar recognition. Brought Academy Award winner Laura Poitras All beauty and bloodshed, his film which just won the Golden Lion at Venice. Two-time Oscar nominee Steve James shares his latest, A sympathetic detective; Margaret Brown came out with her upcoming Netflix release childrenWinner of the Special Jury Award for Creative Vision at Sundance. Director Ileana Sousa and producer Emma D. Miller showed off their awards contender What we leave behind. A few days before its theatrical release.

Multiple Emmy nominee Chris Smith arrives from Telluride Senior, his documentary about actor-director Robert Downey Sr., which was made with Robert Downey Jr., at the end of the trip in Rockland, Maine, one of the festival’s primary locations, Smith personally visited the festival. talked about the rewards of experiencing Again


'Sr.'  Director Chris Smith (L) participates in a Q&A at the Camden International Film Festival in Maine.'Sr.'  Director Chris Smith (L) participates in a Q&A at the Camden International Film Festival in Maine.

‘Sr.’ Director Chris Smith (L) participates in a CIFF Q&A moderated by Eric Hynes.
Courtesy of Matthew Carey

“Our last film came out during the pandemic and it was crazy how it was the first film I released that you didn’t do festivals and you didn’t talk about it, you didn’t feel the closure. You gain by doing this [in person]”Smith said. “There was something that never felt complete. So, I really appreciate being here and seeing people and talking to people.

Last year’s festival was designed as a hybrid online in-person event, but the pandemic impacted on-site attendance.

“It was a small program. [in 2021]. Most of the filmmakers were based in America because international travel was still a challenge,” recalls Foley. “This year, the size of the program is similar to where it was in 2019, pre-Covid… and it was definitely the most international festival we’ve had.”

Traveled to CIFF with Afghan filmmaker Tamna Ayazi, now based in London. In his hands, her documentary about one of Afghanistan’s few female mayors, co-produced with Marcel Mattel-Sefin. CIFF also programmed the work of filmmakers from India, Spain, Iran, Bangladesh and other places around the world. “There were more international artists here than ever before,” Foley notes.


The Points North Institute launched the Diane Wireman Fellowship, honoring the late Chief Content Officer of Participatory and Documentary Champion.

Harbor in Camden, MaineHarbor in Camden, Maine

Harbor in Camden, Maine
Courtesy of Matthew Carey

The lineup and beauty of the coastal Maine festival draws a cross-section of filmmakers, documentary funding organizations, distributors and other industry professionals to Camden. Many emerging artists are brought to the festival through fellowship programs, including the Points North Fellowship, the North Star Fellowship, and the LEF/CIFF Fellowship. This collection of documentary “stakeholders” gives CIFF and the Points North Institute an opportunity to influence the future direction of the field.

“In some ways that’s going to be the most important strategic goal for our organization in the coming years,” says Foley, “first and foremost working with the industry to center filmmakers, thinking that we’re a How to create a space that is primarily designed to meet their creative needs.

Points North pitch event at the Camden International Film FestivalPoints North pitch event at the Camden International Film Festival

Points North pitch event at Camden International Film Festival, 17 September 2022
Courtesy of Matthew Carey

The Points North Pitch Session has become one of the festival’s signature events, a public forum where “six teams of early and mid-career filmmakers” present their documentary projects to a supportive but intimidating panel of industry heavyweights. There is an opportunity to do. Teng of ABC News Studios, Noland Walker of ITVS, and Jon Seri Goff of the Ford Foundation were among the panelists this year). Colleagues get useful feedback and, if they’re really lucky, a lead on potential funding or distribution.

Points North pitch alumnus Alex Pritz returns to CIFF this year with his Oscar-contending National Geographic documentary. area.


“This festival was really important in our journey because I came here in 2019 for pitching sessions when I didn’t know anyone,” he tells “I met some really important colleagues who helped fund parts of the project.”

Camden International Film Festival founder Ben Foley (L) and senior programmer Milton GillenCamden International Film Festival founder Ben Foley (L) and senior programmer Milton Gillen

Camden International Film Festival founder Ben Foley (L) and senior programmer Milton Gillen
Courtesy of Matthew Carey

The festival has a way of nurturing young talent and creating a space for participants to network organically. Oscar-nominated producer Kellan Quinn and award-winning director Luke Lorentzen first met at CIFF nearly six years ago and went on to collaborate on the acclaimed 2019 documentary. Midnight Family. Milton Galen, a Nicaraguan-born filmmaker and teacher, experienced the festival on several levels before becoming CIFF’s senior programmer.

“I’m a kid of this festival. I’m made into this festival. My first film premiered here… I was in the artist fellowship that we have,” Gillen told, adding that he’s seen Foley. and asked former senior programmer Samara Chadwick to join the programming team. “I was like, ‘I love you guys so much. I need to join.’ So, I joined the screening committee and I poured my heart into it. And then when Samara left, I was like, ‘Guys, I’m here for you. I want to do this.'”

Galen says that while the sky’s the limit for the growth of the Points North Institute and its fellowship programs, he would like to see the festival become a relaxed, enjoyable event.

“Whatever the goals we are striving for, this [festival] There is a bonsai tree. It needs to remain a bonsai tree,” he says. “A bonsai tree needs to be pruned. A bonsai tree needs to be watered. We need to make sure that the scale of the festival remains that deep, beautiful connection of all these communities and we allow the roots to really sediment that we can be on a much smaller scale.”


'The Flagmakers' directors Sharon Lees (L) and Cynthia Wade'The Flagmakers' directors Sharon Lees (L) and Cynthia Wade

‘The Flagmakers’ directors Sharon Lees (L) and Cynthia Wade
Courtesy of Matthew Carey

CIFF hosted a handful of world premieres this year, including short documentaries Flag makersDirected by Oscar-winners Cynthia Wade and Sharon Lees, it will be produced by National Geographic for awards season. Another important dimension for Camden is the way it handles brief documents.

“We’ve worked really hard as an organization to recognize the contribution of short films because I think in a lot of festivals they can be overlooked or not presented in the way that they are. Could be a feature,” Foley observed. “It’s still an artist putting a hell of a lot of sweat equity and time and energy and resources into making the work. And so we’ve really preferred to put the shorts on center stage.

Whether it’s shorts or feature-length documentaries, Camden native Foley can be proud of what the festival has become over 18 years.

“As someone who grew up in this city,” says Foley, “sometimes it’s great to look out into the audience and see the immense talent that fills the seats.”

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