Points North Forum sets lineup
Camden — The Camden International Film Festival has unveiled the lineup for its Points North Documentary Forum. Now in its fourth year, Points North has quickly become the largest gathering in New England of documentary filmmakers and key industry decision makers. The two-day conference program runs concurrently with the festival, Sept. 28 through 29, at the historic Camden Opera House.
Points North provides independent documentary filmmakers opportunities for professional development and creative inspiration through a wide range of panel discussions, workshops, case studies, networking events and a public pitch session. In addition, several industry delegates will be available for one-on-one pitching sessions with forum attendees on Sept. 28.
Filmmakers, students and other Points North attendees will have numerous opportunities to connect with industry delegates throughout the festival weekend, both formally during one-on-one pitch sessions and informally during CIFF parties, happy hours and a special Friday-night reception honoring the 25th anniversary of PBS’ flagship documentary series “POV,” sponsored by The Orchard.
"What really distinguishes Points North from other documentary conferences in major cities is the opportunity to connect on an intimate, personal level with both industry delegates and fellow filmmakers in a beautiful setting," said Points North Director Sean Flynn. "Camden provides the perfect retreat-like environment for filmmakers to focus on professional and creative development while reflecting on the future of documentary storytelling."
One of the themes in this year’s Points North program will be how documentary storytelling is changing in response to new media technologies. In one panel discussion, top representatives from the New York Times, Vimeo and Etsy.com will explore how short documentaries are being used on the web to engage new audiences and experiment with new creative directions. A series of curated shorts from each of these sources will be shown before select screenings throughout the festival weekend.
As documentary filmmakers begin to explore the creative possibilities of interactive storytelling, Points North will host an exclusive hands-on workshop with Zeega, an open-source platform for inventing new forms of storytelling that was incubated at Harvard’s metaLAB. The workshop will be open to both professionals and amateurs alike, since using Zeega requires no prior filmmaking or programming experience. It will be presented in partnership with the University of Maine, Bowdoin College, Maine Media Workshops and Northeast Historic Film.
Another conference highlight will be Kickstarter School, a crowdfunding workshop led by Kickstarter’s film program director Elisabeth Holm. Other panels will provide an overview of the current broadcast and distribution landscape for independent documentaries.
For filmmakers interested in strengthening their storytelling craft, Points North will feature an editing and story structure workshop led by Mary Lampson, Maine-based editor of the classic Academy Award-winning “Harlan County, USA” and another workshop led by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, directors of “Downeast” and last year’s critically-acclaimed “Girl Model.”
Once again this year, some of the documentary industry’s leading broadcasters, distributors, funding organizations and executive producers will convene at the Points North Pitch, a public pitch session held Sept. 29. Up to six filmmakers will be given an opportunity to pitch their works-in-progress and receive critical feedback before a live audience. The event, free and open to the public, is a unique opportunity for filmmakers to secure vital support for their projects and audience members to see how documentaries are developed in their early stages.
Filmmakers with feature-length documentaries in the works can apply to the Points North Pitch by submitting a short synopsis and trailer before the extended Friday, Sept. 7 deadline. This year’s panel will include some of the documentary film industry’s most important decision-makers including Simon Kilmurry from “POV”; Beth Janson, executive director of the Tribeca Film Institute; Brian Newman from Brainstorm Media and DIRECTV; Winona Meringolo from Discovery Channel; Sara Archambault from LEF Foundation; and many more. One project will receive a Best Pitch award, which comes with a $1000 cash prize from Documentary Educational Resources and a $3000 scholarship to Maine Media Workshops.
In 2010, Maine-based filmmakers Jason Mann and Cecily Pingree won “Best Pitch” with their film “Betting the Farm.” Since then, they have won competitive grants from the Sundance Documentary Fund, LEF Foundation and Chicken & Egg Pictures; and have been invited to the prestigious Sundance Producers Institute. They will return to CIFF to screen as the official opening night film.
Access to the full conference program is open to all CIFF passholders and is not limited to those who are selected for the pitch. Passes are on sale on the Camden International Film Festival website, camdenfilmfest.org.
The Points North Documentary Forum is funded in part from the generous support of the LEF Foundation, the Quimby Family Foundation, the Virginia Hodgkins Somers Foundation and the Maine Arts Commission. A full conference schedule and list of industry delegates is available online.
Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.