CAMDEN — The Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) has announced the slate of feature and short films for its 17th edition, which will take place in person from Sept. 16 through 19 at venues in Camden and Rockland, and online from Sept. 16 through 26 for audiences across North America. Longtime sponsor SHOWTIME Documentary Films returns as Headlining Sponsor of CIFF. The festival and its concurrent Artist Programs will constitute one of the largest gatherings of the documentary community since the start of the global pandemic’s impact in Spring 2020.

A program of the Points North Institute, CIFF is one of the top documentary film festivals in the world. This year’s festival will present 37 features and 33 short films from over 30 countries. Recognized as a growing platform for championing the next generation of nonfiction storytellers, 52% of the films presented this year are directed or co-directed by POC directors. Since 2017, the festival has been committed to gender parity across all sections and competitions. Women have directed or co-directed 57% of this year’s slate of films.

The festival will open with National Geographic Documentary Films’ “Becoming Cousteau,” from two-time Oscar nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus, about the iconic undersea explorer and filmmaker who tried decades ago to warn the world about the climate crisis. The festival will close its in-person festival on Sunday, Sept. 19, with NEON’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “Flee.” Recounted mostly through animation by director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, the film tells Amin Nawani’s extraordinary journey as a child refugee from Afghanistan.

Festival highlights include SHOWTIME Documentary Films’ new feature about the most iconic figure in film history, “The Real Charlie Chaplin,” in which directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney were given access to a personal archive of the silent-movie star that includes previously unknown material; Robert Greene’s latest feature “Procession,” which explores the intertwined stories of six survivors of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priests; and National Geographic Documentary Films’ “The Rescue” by Oscar-winning directors Jimmy Chin and E. Chai Vasarhelyi about the famous 2018 rescue of 12 Thai boys trapped in a cave.

Nearly half of the feature films are presented as major premieres, including the U.S. premiere of Payal Kapadia’s “A Night of Knowing Nothing,” which recently won the prestigious Oeil d’Or award for “Best Documentary” at Cannes; Hot Docs Grand Jury Winner “Ostrov – Lost Island” by Svetlana Rodina and Laurent Stoop; and Penny Lane’s “Listening to Kenny G.”

“Much like our festival this year, our 2021 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. “As programmers, we have been transformed by these films. And in a moment when we are all feeling the forced distance between us, we are grateful to the filmmakers who have made these works of art, and shared these stories with us. Cinema is a beacon, and there is no question that the near 70 films that will be presented both in person and online at CIFF are, all in their own way, a light in the dark.”

As a leading showcase of international work, CIFF will present five North American Premieres, including the Netflix title “A Cop Movie” by Alonso Ruizpalacios, which took home the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution at the 2021 Berlin Film Festival; “Our Memory Belongs To Us” by Rami Farah & Final Cut For Real’s Signe Byrge Sørensen, which received a DOX: AWARD Special Jury Mention at CPH DOX; Marie Amiguet’s “The Velvet Queen,” which recently premiered at Cannes; “The Mushroom Speaks” by Marion Neumann; and “Roots (Koreni)” by emerging filmmaker Tea Lukač’, set to premiere at Karlovy Vary Film Festival this month.

Storyforms, CIFF’s exhibition of immersive documentary experiences and installations will include a collection of work by Simon Liu, a film artist whose work has been featured at festivals and museums across the world for its exploration of his place of origin in Hong Kong through alternative documentary forms, diary films, and multi-channel video installations.

In total, nearly 50 filmmakers are expected to converge in Maine for the festival, and films will be exhibited in person in four venues, including the festival’s recently built Shotwell Drive-In and a new pop-up cinema housed inside a 12,000 square foot boat barn located on the edge of the Atlantic designed with social distancing in mind. Organizers also announced that it will continue with its Filmmaker Solidarity Fund, a one-of-a-kind funding model established in 2020 that redirects 50% of all revenue from CIFF’s virtual pass and ticket sales back to participating filmmakers.

For tickets and a complete list of films, visit pointsnorthinstitute.org/ciff.