The Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) has announced its main slate of feature and short films for its expanded 16th edition, which will take place Oct. 1 through 12. In addition to all films screening virtually, the in-person experience of this year's festival will occur at CIFF’s recently constructed Shotwell Drive-In Theater in Rockport.

A program of the Points North Institute, CIFF is one of the top documentary film festivals in the world. This year the festival will present 30 features, three mid-length films and 27 shorts from 27 countries, with more than half of the feature films presented as major premieres. CIFF will open with Garrett Bradley’s award-winning "Time," and close with Hulu’s latest feature, "I Am Greta." The festival will also present new work by documentary luminary Victor Kossakovsky and Academy Award-winning directors Frederick Wiseman and Steve James.

“Our 2020 slate celebrates documentary as a reimagining of the ways we engage with stories from both near and far,” says Ben Fowlie, Executive and Artistic Director of the Points North Institute, and Founder of the Camden International Film Festival. “There’s no question this has been a challenging and strange year for independent filmmakers and film festivals, but the bold and creative ways in which these films were constructed, reminded us time and again that nothing has changed when it comes to the power of storytelling. We feel compelled to do all we can to ensure these imaginative and essential portraits of our world are experienced. The show must always find a way to go on.”

In support of the challenges experienced by independent filmmakers this year due to COVID, CIFF established the Filmmaker Solidarity Fund, ensuring honoraria for every participating filmmaker or filmmaking team, including both features and shorts directors participating in the 2020 festival. Fifty percent of net proceeds from CIFF’s virtual festival will seed the fund, with an additional pool of contributions and donations. “These remain unprecedented times for the field, and we hope that our festival will unearth new modes of collaboration between filmmakers, and a more accessible, equitable, and filmmaker focused festivals,” said Fowlie.

This year’s slate reinforces CIFF’s commitment to diversity not only on the screen but behind the various filmmaking teams. While 55% of this year’s films are directed or co-directed by women, 48% of the films are directed by artists of color.

CIFF will present three World Premieres including "The Long Coast" by Ian Cheney, "The Mystery of D.B. Cooper" by John Dower, and "Bicentenario" by Pablo Álvarez Mesa. As a leading showcase of international works, CIFF welcomes the North American premiere of seven feature films, including "A Shape of Things To Come" by Lisa Marie Malloy and J.P. Sniadecki, "American Sector" by Courtney Stephens and Pacho Velez, "Bottled Songs 1-4" by Chloé Galibert-Laîné and Kevin B. Lee, and "There Will Be No More Night" by Eléonore Weber, as well as new works directed by emerging South American female filmmakers, Carolina Moscoso Briceno’s "Night Shot" and "Shady River" directed by Tatiana Mazú. Marking their United States premieres this October are "76 Days" by Hao Wu, Weixi Chen, and Anonymous, "North" by Leslie Lagier, "Songs of Repression" by Estephan Wagner and Marianne Hougen-Moraga, and "Truth Or Consequences" by Points North Institute alumni Hannah Jayanti.

“Many of the films we engaged with took on new dimensionality and resonance during this year’s festival selection process, inside our homes, during a global pandemic,” says programmer Jeanelle Augustin. “As we each go through our own deeply personal molting process to mourn what’s been lost and cultivate space for new growth, the value of real connection and creative community is stronger than ever. Despite our physical distances, there is no question that the nonfiction moving image is operating in new economies of scale. This year at CIFF we have stripped back the out and overgrown, guided by the urgency of beauty, the essentiality of art, and the imaginary potential of cinema.”

The global refugee crisis will be represented in a kaleidoscope of films, including the North American Premiere of Amel Alzakout and Khaled Abdulwahed’s Berlinale title, "Purple Sea," about Syrian filmmaker and artist Amel Alzakout’s harrowing journey on the Aegean Sea, and a special retrospective of award-winning Danish-Palestinian filmmaker and visual artist, Mahdi Fleifel, whose work has documented the Palestinian refugee camp, Ain al-Helweh since 2012.

"Many of these works observe, traverse, and delineate an intimate relationship between violence and its many ways of hiding in plain sight," says programmer Milton Guillén. "It is in the intimate encounter between the unveiling and re-framing of these systems that this year's program takes shape. They opened new ways of seeing as people, filmmakers, and programmers, that's what really excited us."

In addition to Jayanti’s feature debut, the festival is pleased to showcase six features directed by alumni of the Points North Institute’s Artist Programs: "Bulletproof" by Todd Chander, "Landfall" by Cecilia Aldarondo, "Two Gods" by Zeshawn and Aman Ali, "For The Love of Rutland" by Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, and "Jacinta" by Jessica Earnshaw and Holly Meehl, as well as "Truth or Consequences."

To conclude the 16th edition of the festival, CIFF will celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day with a special day of programming on Oct. 12, presenting work from award-winning director Sky Hopinka and others.

A complete list of the program’s selected feature films can be found online at pointsnorthinstitute.org/ciff.

The Points North Institute announced that SHOWTIME® Documentary Films will serve as the Presenting Sponsor for the 2020 Points North Fellowship and a Headlining Sponsor for the 2020 Camden International Film Festival.

The Points North Forum’s lineup of masterclasses, roundtables, panels, and industry delegates will be announced in the coming week, along with this year’s cohort of Points North Institute’s Artist Program Fellows. Festival passes and a complete festival lineup can be found on the Points North Institute website at pointsnorthinstitute.org.

The 16th Camden International Film Festival is a program of the Points North Institute. Building on CIFF’s long-established role in the nonfiction film community, the Points North Institute’s filmmaker programs provide a launching pad for the next generation of nonfiction storytellers.