CAMDEN — The Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) wrapped its 17th edition on Sunday, September 26 after a successful 10-day virtual festival and a four-day in-person festival that ran from September 16-19. This year’s festival was the largest documentary-focused industry gathering since the start of the global pandemic with over 200 filmmakers, fellows, and industry professionals participating in CIFF or one of the concurrent Points North Artist Programs.
In addition to the filmmakers and industry, nearly 2000 attendees participated in this year’s CIFF, including nearly 750 pass holders for the in-person festival. Organizers laid out a number of protocols leading up to the festival including vaccine, mask, and pre-travel testing requirements, along with rapid testing onsite throughout the festival for filmmakers, industry, and staff. As of October 6, organizers announced that there have been no reports of positive COVID-19 cases associated with CIFF’s in-person event.
Organizers also announced that dates for the 18th edition of the Camden International Film Festival will be September 15-18, 2022 in-person with more information on the virtual festival to come.
“Despite the challenges of staging in-person experiences at this time, this year’s CIFF was a beautiful reunion of the documentary community, and a reminder of just how important it is to come together in-person to support and celebrate cinema exhibition and the creative artists behind the stories being presented,” said Ben Fowlie, Founder of CIFF and the Executive and Artistic Director of the Points North Institute, in a news release. “For over a year now, our mantra has been that the show must and will go on, and so it has been thrilling to see just how impactful and transformative this year’s CIFF has been. Re-connecting, re-centering, and re-imagining has never felt so good, and I’m proud to see how Points North and CIFF have stepped up to think creatively about the ways in which we can bring communities together to support the work of documentary filmmakers at all stages of the creative process.”
Films were exhibited at four venues, including the festival’s recently built Shotwell Drive-In and a new pop-up cinema called Journey’s End which was constructed inside a 12,000 square foot boat barn located on the edge of the Atlantic.
As a leading showcase of international work, the festival presented 14 US premieres, including several award-winning titles including the recent winner of the prestigious Oeil d’Or award for Best Documentary at Cannes, A Night Of Knowing Nothing. Major highlights also included screenings of The Rescue by directors Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, Becoming Cousteau by director Liz Garbus, Procession by Robert Greene, which was recently acquired by Netflix, All These Sons by filmmaker Bing Liu, and Faya Dayi, the film by Jessica Beshir.
The Festival has announced CIFF’s 2021 Audience Award-winning films. The Audience Award for Best Feature went to The Rescue by directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. The National Geographic Documentary Film will be released theatrically this month. The Audience for Best Short went to The Intersection (Le Carrefour) by Jessamine Irwin and Daniel Quintanilla, which was supported by Points North through the inaugural Maine Heritage Film Grant sponsored by TV5Monde. Audiences included those participating in both the in-person and virtual festivals.
Last week organizers announced the award-winning films from their competitive programs with Angelo Madsen Minax’s family portrait North by Current taking home the festival’s Harrell Award for Best Documentary. The jury, which included filmmaker Penny Lane, filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes, and IDA’s new Executive Director Richard Perez, also recognized the Russian film, Ostrov - Lost Island by Svetlana Rodin and Laurent Stoop with a special jury mention.
CIFF’s Cinematic Vision Award went to A Night Of Knowing Nothing by Payal Kapadia, which had its US premiere at CIFF. The jury, which was comprised of programmer Rachel A. Rakes, filmmaker Ziad Kalthoum, and critic Desanne Lopez Cassell, also extended a special jury mention to Jessica Beshir’s Faya Dayi.
The 2021 Contemporary Ethnographic Media Award, supported by Documentary Educational Resources, went to Shared Resources by Jordan Lord. The jury also awarded Songs That Flood The River by Germán Arango Rendán with an honorable mention.
In addition to the Audience Award, the 2021 Vimeo Staff Pick Award for Best Short at CIFF went to The Diamond by Caitlyn Greene. The film had its world premiere at CIFF.
The festival continued its Filmmaker Solidarity Fund, distributing over $15,000 directly back to filmmakers through a one-of-a-kind funding model established in 2020 that redirects 50% of box office revenue from CIFF’s virtual festival back to participating filmmakers.
In addition to the festival, Points North brought together four cohorts of filmmaker fellows in Maine through the organization’s growing Artist Programs: the North Star Fellowship, 4th World Media Lab, LEF/CIFF Fellowship, and the Points North Fellowship. The 2021 Points North Pitch Award, which includes an in-kind post-production package from Modulus Studios, went to La Flaca by Jessica Chermayeff and Ana Veselic. The Institute also partnered with the BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship and the If/Then x Hulu Short Documentary Lab. Over forty filmmakers participated in the in-person fellowships.
Each of these groups had opportunities to take meetings with 70+ influential funders, distributors, and producers through Points North’s 1:1 Meetings program, which facilitated nearly 500 meetings both in-person during the festival and virtually in the weeks following.
In the coming weeks, Points North will announce the 2021 recipients of the American Stories Documentary Fund. The program, which includes a $50,000 fund and virtual residency, is a collaboration between Points North and presenting partner CNN Films.
About the Points North Institute
Established in 2016, the Points North Institute is the launching pad for the next generation of nonfiction storytellers. Building on the success of the Camden International Film Festival, Points North’s mission is to bring together a unique, interdisciplinary community of filmmakers, artists, journalists, industry leaders, and audiences, forming a creative hub on the coast of Maine where new stories and talent are discovered, collaborations are born, and the future of nonfiction media is shaped. Programs include the annual Camden International Film Festival and Points North Forum, as well as a year-round calendar of artist development initiatives that nurture the careers of diverse nonfiction storytellers and help them develop a stronger artistic voice.
Founded in 2005 and recognized as one of the top documentary film festivals in the world, the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) brings the finest nonfiction cinema to the coast of Maine, showcasing documentary films and immersive works from around the globe each fall.
The 2021 Camden International Film Festival will take place September 16-26 in person and online. Major support for this year’s CIFF and Artist Programs has been provided by SHOWTIME® Documentary Films, National Endowment for the Arts, Ford Foundation, John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, LEF Foundation, CNN Films, National Geographic Documentary Films, MSNBC Films, Mattina R. Proctor Foundation, TV5 Monde, XTR, A&E IndieFilms, ESPN, Netflix, Doha Debates, Kickstarter, and Participant Media.