Having covered this event since its inception for various newspapers and magazines, the Camden International Film Festival is one of those events that started small in 2005 and blew up to be this big international thing that it is today. So, while the cost of the weekend pass and maybe your weariness of more tourist traffic might deter some of you from going, let me just say: This is a cultural opportunity to see the world through filmmakers’ eyes. And given the divisive and acrimonious political climate we’re all immersed in (doesn’t matter which side you’re on) CIFF is the virtual passport to understanding how other people think and live. There is tremendous power in these documentaries that will move you. Trust me.
Here is my Local’s Guide To CIFF and what to spend your hard-earned money and time on this weekend.
Tickets and Waiting In Line
As always, CIFF makes it affordable for the average joe to see a lot of good stuff in this Festival if you pick and choose wisely. The Hub for tickets is located at 16 Bay View Hotel in Camden (side entrance via Bayview Landing) Tickets for individual screenings are still only 10 bucks. But here’s a Pro-Tip: Tickets go on sale 15 minutes prior to each screening, so camp out, and get there early if you really want to see something as screenings tend to sell out. Tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis and are dependent upon availability.
Thursday night, CIFF kicks off with screenings of They'll Love Me When I'm Dead in Camden and Rockport. The film is the latest film from Academy Award-winner Morgan Neville and is the provocative story of legendary director Orson Welles during the final fifteen years of his life. Q&A with director Morgan Neville to follow. Local phenoms The Toughcats play the Camden Opera House at 7 p.m. to start off the night. Make sure to line up early; screenings are sure to sell out. As always, All Access passholders enter first.
What is a storyform? This is something fairly new to the CIFF format from last year and not something you typically see in a small town. So what you do is, you go to the Storyforms Barn at 8 Winter Street in Rockland across from CMCA. On the walls will be interactive screens, sort of a cross between an art installation and a cool, museum experience involving augmented reality and VR (Virtual Reality headsets). There are 20 different installations to interact with. With each topic the screens will unfold multiple stories in real time, so you’re getting multiple perspectives to the storytelling experience. You just have to see it. Due to the growing popularity of VR installations in the Storyforms program at last year’s festival, there will be a Storyforms Day Pass available in 2018. These day passes will be available for Friday or Sunday only of CIFF.
Shorts are my absolute favorite form of documentary filmmaking; they are like the Twitter of the film world in that you have yo get your point and capture your audience in a very short time period. These microbursts of culture and people’s stories from all over the world are a must-see and they are free and open to the public. The Shorts Categories are around two hours and consist of about 5-6 films broken up into five themes. (Water, Fire Air, Metal and Earth) There’s also a category of Dirigo Shorts, ($10 pass) which are Maine-made documentaries. For my money, this is the one to definitely check out and support Maine filmmakers. Just look at the synopses of: Alan Magee: art is not a solace, Not A Citizen, Hit ME, I like it! Underwater Rockland and Yojani: A Cuba Skate Story among others. All Maine viewpoints that will take you right out of the Midcoast and into wondrous worlds. These Short program are like an individual screening and cost $10 per screening.
CIFF usually throws one heck of a bash and this is worth it. Friday night at the Bicknell Building in Rockland starts at 10 p.m. for Western Mass fever-pop duo HOME BODY, DJ Dayglow (Pink Noise, Boston) and local hero DJ Milkweed. You don’t have to be a passholder, but it costs $30 general admission. Drinks included. You definitely want to buy online. No tickets will be sold at the door. We’re told that if you do hold a pass, you’ll also be able to get a ride from their new shuttle this year, which can take you back to Camden at various points of the night.
That’s it; check out the schedule all weekend and you can look up the backstory of the individual films on the site. Or read more on Pen Bay Pilot. Get out of your head for a couple of hours and into someone else’s.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org