The Camden International Film Festival has announced the winners of the 2018 CIFF, which ran Sept. 13 to 16 in Camden, Rockport and Rockland.

The documentary film industry once again converged in Midcoast Maine for the fest’s 14th edition. CIFF presented 37 features, 43 short films, one episodic series and 20 virtual reality and immersive experiences from more than 30 countries. Recognized as one of the top documentary film festivals in the world, CIFF saw a 20 percent rise in submissions from 2017, while attendance of filmmakers, industry and passholders was at a record high this year.

Half of the works in every category were directed or co-directed by women, making it the first United States film festival to achieve full gender parity in its programming. And, in keeping with CIFF’s mission to discover and foster rising talent, half of the films were made by first- or second-time filmmakers.

The festival presented three world premieres by award-winning filmmakers: Kahlil Hudson and Alex Jablonski’s “Young Men And Fire”; Lana Wilson’s series “The Cure for Fear”; and Jane Gillooly’s “Where the Pavement Ends.” Seventeen features from the program also had their North American or U.S. premieres including “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes,” “What Is Democracy,” “The Truth About Killer Robots” and Locarno winner “Fausto,” along with Karlovy Vary winners “Walden” and “Putin’s Witnesses.”

The Points North Forum ran concurrently, bringing together the documentary film community and audiences with an impressive cross-section of high profile industry attendees. Workshops, master classes and panel discussions presented numerous opportunities to connect, both formally and informally, with the documentary film industry’s most accomplished storytellers and influential decision makers.

Renowned iconoclast Russian filmmaker Vitaly Mansky presented a master class on his filmmaking techniques, while several other discussions centered around the new Points North Agora: a series of informal yet rigorous conversations about the role of documentary, journalism and co-creation models in this age of murky realities, post-truth and political polarization. Speakers included Astra Taylor (“What Is Democracy?”), Alexis Bloom and Alex Gibney (“Divide and Conquer”) and Maxim Pozdorovkin (“Killer Robots”).

On the festival’s final day, CIFF hosted its annual Awards Ceremony, presenting four awards for documentary features and one for a documentary short, in addition to its Points North Pitch Award. In the Pitch, the six teams of Points North Fellows who worked with industry members in a year-long mentorship, presented their feature documentary works-in-progress to a top-level panel of funders, producers and broadcasters — all before a live audience at the Camden Opera House. For the second year, Showtime Documentary Films was the Presenting Sponsor of the Fellowship.

New this year, nearly 500 audience members at the pitch had an opportunity to contribute to a live crowdfunding campaign, which brought in $6,349 in direct funding to the projects. As part of a new partnership with Chicago Media Project, all six Points North Fellows will also have an opportunity to participate in a second public pitch session at CMP’s DOC10 Film Festival in April.

This year’s Points North Pitch Award, which included in-kind post-production services from Boston-based Modulus Studios, went to director Sierra Urich’s work-in-progress feature documentary “Joonam.”

CIFF is an Oscar-qualifying festival for short films, and the winner of the Camden Cartel Award for Best Short is eligible to enter the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Documentary Short Subject competition. This year’s winner is “Circle” by Jayisha Patel. The runner-up was David Freid’s “Guns Found Here.”

For the fourth year, CIFF collaborated with long-time partner Documentary Educational Resources to present the John Marshall Award for Contemporary Ethnographic Media. The jury of Alice Apley (Documentary Educational Resources), Alijah Case (Documentary Educational Resources), Ilisa Barbash (producer/director), Ernst Karel (sound artist), Irina Leimbacher (critic, educator) and Maple Razsa (anthropologist, filmmaker) awarded this year’s John Marshall Award to Ramell Ross’s “Hale County This Morning.”

Jurors Enat Sidi (editor), Meghan Monsour (creative director of Ambulante Film Festival) and Sean Farnel (producer) awarded the 2018 Cinematic Vision Award to Vadym Ilkov’s “My Father Is My Mother’s Brother,” with Special Jury Mention going to “Exit Music,” directed by Cameron Mullenneaux. The jury noted, “Surprising, tender and quietly profound, ‘My Father Is My Mother’s Brother’ is non-fiction filmmaking at its finest. A raw, creative, and unconventional family portrait.”

This year’s jury of Andrea Meditch (producer), Justine Nagan (“POV”) and Talal Derki (filmmaker, “Of Fathers and Sons”) awarded the 2018 Harrell Award for Best Documentary Feature to “On Her Shoulders,” directed by Alexandria Bombach, “For using an intimate but respectful gaze to convey suffering through subtle gestures and the use of silence. The film captures the weight of bearing witness by allowing the protagonist to speak for herself. ‘On Her Shoulders’ transforms a traumatic personal experience into a realization of horrifying and memorable collective responsibility.”

The Harrell Jury awarded two Special Mentions, to Vitaly Mansky’s “Putin’s Witnesses” and James Longley’s “Angels Are Made of Light.”

The 2018 Camden International Film Festival Audience Award sponsored by Sylvia A. de Leon and Lynn Coleman went to Assia Boundaoui’s “The Feeling of Being Watched.”

Camden International Film Festival also announced that the 15th edition of the festival will take place Sept. 12 through 15, 2019. Submissions will open in January. For more information, visit

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or