CAMDEN — The Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) wrapped its 17th edition late last month after a 10-day virtual festival and a four-day in-person festival. This year’s festival was the largest documentary-focused industry gathering since the start of the global pandemic with more than 200 filmmakers, fellows, and industry professionals participating in CIFF or one of the concurrent Points North Artist Programs.

In addition to the filmmakers and industry, nearly 2,000 attendees participated in this year’s CIFF, including nearly 750 pass holders for the in-person festival. Organizers laid out a number of protocols leading up to the festival including vaccine, mask, and pre-travel testing requirements, along with rapid testing onsite throughout the festival for filmmakers, industry, and staff. As of Oct. 6, organizers announced that there have been no reports of positive COVID-19 cases associated with CIFF’s in-person event.

Organizers also announced that dates for the 18th edition of the Camden International Film Festival will be Sept. 15 through 18, 2022 in-person with more information on the virtual festival to come.

“Despite the challenges of staging in-person experiences at this time, this year’s CIFF was a beautiful reunion of the documentary community, and a reminder of just how important it is to come together in-person to support and celebrate cinema exhibition and the creative artists behind the stories being presented,” said Ben Fowlie, Founder of CIFF and the Executive and Artistic Director of the Points North Institute. “For over a year now, our mantra has been that the show must and will go on, and so it has been thrilling to see just how impactful and transformative this year’s CIFF has been. Re-connecting, re-centering, and re-imagining has never felt so good, and I’m proud to see how Points North and CIFF have stepped up to think creatively about the ways in which we can bring communities together to support the work of documentary filmmakers at all stages of the creative process.”

Films were exhibited at four venues, including the festival’s recently built Shotwell Drive-In and a new pop-up cinema called Journey’s End, which was constructed inside a 12,000-square-foot boat barn located on the edge of the Atlantic.

As a leading showcase of international work, the festival presented 14 US premieres, including several award-winning titles including the recent winner of the prestigious Oeil d’Or award for Best Documentary at Cannes, “A Night Of Knowing Nothing.” Major highlights also included screenings of “The Rescue” by Academy Award-winning directors Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin; “Becoming Cousteau” by Emmy Award-winning director Liz Garbus; “Procession” by Robert Greene, which was recently acquired by Netflix; “All These Sons” by Academy-nominated filmmaker Bing Liu, and “Faya Dayi,” the multi-award-winning film by Jessica Beshir.

The festival has announced CIFF’s 2021 Audience Award-winning films. The Audience Award for Best Feature went to “The Rescue” by Academy Award-winning directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. The National Geographic Documentary Film will be released theatrically this month. The Audience for Best Short went to “The Intersection (Le Carrefour)” by Jessamine Irwin and Daniel Quintanilla, which was supported by Points North through the inaugural Maine Heritage Film Grant sponsored by TV5Monde. Audiences included those participating in both the in-person and virtual festivals.

Organizers also recently announced the award-winning films from their competitive programs with Angelo Madsen Minax’s family portrait “North by Current” taking home the festival’s Harrell Award for Best Documentary. The jury, which included filmmaker Penny Lane, filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes, and IDA’s new Executive Director Richard Perez, also recognized the Russian film “Ostrov – Lost Island” by Svetlana Rodin and Laurent Stoop with a special jury mention.

CIFF’s Cinematic Vision Award went to “A Night Of Knowing Nothing” by Payal Kapadia, which had its US premiere at CIFF. The jury, which was comprised of programmer Rachel A. Rakes, filmmaker Ziad Kalthoum, and critic Desanne Lopez Cassell, also extended a special jury mention to Jessica Beshir’s “Faya Dayi.”

The 2021 Contemporary Ethnographic Media Award, supported by Documentary Educational Resources, went to “Shared Resources” by Jordan Lord. The jury also awarded “Songs That Flood The River” by Germán Arango Rendán with an honorable mention.

In addition to the Audience Award, the 2021 Vimeo Staff Pick Award for Best Short at CIFF went to “The Diamond” by Caitlyn Greene. The film had its world premiere at CIFF.

The festival continued its Filmmaker Solidarity Fund, distributing more than $15,000 directly back to filmmakers through a one-of-a-kind funding model established in 2020 that redirects 50% of box office revenue from CIFF’s virtual festival back to participating filmmakers.

In addition to the festival, Points North brought together four cohorts of filmmaker fellows in Maine through the organization’s growing Artist Programs: the North Star Fellowship, 4th World Media Lab, LEF/CIFF Fellowship, and the Points North Fellowship. The 2021 Points North Pitch Award, which includes an in-kind post-production package from Modulus Studios, went to “La Flaca” by Jessica Chermayeff and Ana Veselic. The institute also partnered with the BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship and the If/Then x Hulu Short Documentary Lab. More than 40 filmmakers participated in the in-person fellowships.

Each of these groups had opportunities to take meetings with 70+ influential funders, distributors, and producers through Points North’s 1:1 Meetings program, which facilitated nearly 500 meetings both in-person during the festival and virtually in the weeks following.

In the coming weeks, Points North will announce the 2021 recipients of the American Stories Documentary Fund. The program, which includes a $50,000 fund and virtual residency, is a collaboration between Points North and presenting partner CNN Films.

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