Thu, 08/06/2020 - 8:15am

Many say that the COVID-19 pandemic has bred creativity and sped up innovation.

Camden Rotary Club learned about a prime example of that this week during a presentation by Points North Institute Development Director Emily Peckham.

Peckham recounted that the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF), the institute’s flagship program, approached a big dilemma as the COVID-19 pandemic loomed: wait to see what would happen or find a way to hold in-person film screenings.

“We wanted to bring people together safely and promote a sense of community,” said Peckham. “It’s key to who we are and what we do.”

Points North staff and board members opted for action and quickly set about making plans and getting permission from the Town of Rockport to build a drive-in theater at the old Rockport Elementary School (RES) site.

“The RES site made sense to us because the community was already sharing the use of it for exercise classes, riding bikes, and softball games,” Peckham explained.

Conversations with neighbors, the Rockport Select Board, and the community at large revealed strong support for the idea. By late June, building materials moved on-site and the work began. Within a month – on July 18 – the Shotwell Drive-In, named in memory of generous Points North supporter Bob Shotwell – held its first public screening. Since then, CIFF has presented 4 films and other organizations have started renting the venue. Last weekend, for instance, Megunticook Rowing presented the world premiere of the documentary, A Most Beautiful Thing, to raise funds for its scholarship program.

The project would not have been possible without the incredible support of the Town of Rockport, volunteers, and contractors and suppliers willing to work within Points North’s tight timeframe to get the project completed in just three weeks. Donors have long seen the need for a vibrant arts scene in midcoast Maine and their encouragement to dream big kept Points North going through a challenging year. It is through their generosity that the organization was able to build a resource that will provide the Midcoast with what is needed in this moment: a safe way to gather to celebrate storytelling.

Peckham said the donation of a Digital Cinema Package (DCP) is making it possible for CIFF to show more types of films than ever before. The laser projector, currently mounted 25 feet above the ground within a specially constructed lighthouse, will get heavy use during CIFF on October 1–12, 2020. At the end of October, the projector will move to an indoor venue so that socially-distanced screenings can continue during the winter and spring.

“We are thrilled that people will be able to watch films together at CIFF, at least in this one location,” said  Peckham. “Having DCP capability is truly a game-changer for our organization. We’ll be able to program more films than ever because of its superior encryption. And the quality of the image is such that there is no bad seat in the house.”

About the Camden Rotary Club. The Camden Rotary Club has served the community since 1925, raising funds to help local nonprofit organizations and providing volunteer services. Since 2011, the club has invested $238,000 in the community via its grants to nonprofit organizations in Knox County and Lincolnville. The Club has also invested in local students by awarding $149,000 in scholarships since 2017. In addition to awarding charitable grants and scholarships each year, the Club recently deployed an emergency task force to help nonprofit organizations in Knox County and Lincolnville that are most directly impacted by the pandemic. For more information about the Camden Rotary Club, please visit


Press Contact: Joan Phaup,, (207) 557-1181