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Points North Fellows and more

Sep 11, 2017
Martin DiCicco, a Points North Pitch vet, will make his U.S. premiere with “All That Passes By Through A Window That Doesn’t Open,” a film about a journey by rail where workers reflect upon opportunity and regret.

Camden — The Points North Institute, parent organization of the Camden International Film Festival, has announced the 14 documentary filmmakers and media artists selected for its 2017 Artist Programs.

Points North’s growing suite of Artist Support Programs include the Points North Fellowship and Pitch, celebrating its eighth year with a new Presenting Sponsorship from Showtime Documentary Films. The Shortform Editing Residency continues for a second year.

PNI launched two new Artist Support Programs this year. The North Star Scholarship is a festival travel scholarship for young filmmakers of color to attend the Festival and Forum, created in partnership with Kickstarter and the School of Visual Arts MFA in Social Documentary Film. Also new are Points North 1:1 Meetings, connecting 20 documentary features, shorts and series in development with 25 industry delegates including Catapult Film Fund, Cinereach, Field of Vision, Hot Docs, ITVS, PBS, Tribeca Film Institute and Working Films. These 1:1 Meetings are by invitation only.

Each of Points North Institute’s Artist Support Programs are designed to connect filmmakers with mentors, funders and potential collaborators, using CIFF as a platform to build a community of support, nurture the careers of diverse nonfiction storytellers and help them develop a stronger artistic voice.

“The Points North Institute is dedicated to the idea that doing creative work — particularly documentary storytelling — requires a strong community of support,” said Points North Program Director Sean Flynn. “We are thrilled that our growing partnerships with SHOWTIME Documentary Films, Kickstarter and the School of Visual Arts will create new opportunities for diverse nonfiction storytellers to find that community of support in Camden.”

The Points North Fellowship and PNI’s Camden/TFI Retreat — a June collaboration with Tribeca Film Institute and CNN Films —already have developed a strong track record of successfully incubating powerful documentary films. This year, seven features that have been developed through these programs will be screening at CIFF. These films have garnered awards and debuted at prestigious festivals including Sundance, Locarno, Tribeca, Rotterdam and Visions du Reel.

“I didn't know anyone in the documentary world. I had never pitched anything anywhere,” said Martin DiCicco, director of “All That Passes By Through A Window That Doesn’t Open,” a veteran of the Points North Pitch and recent award winner at Visions du Reel. “Before I came to pitch at CIFF, my film was a dumb idea in my head, and it was the pitching workshop and Forum that made me realize, OK, I can do this … It was an experience that was both incredibly challenging and encouraging. So I spent the next five years trying to get back here. And five years, later I'm making my U.S. premiere here.”

Sierra Pettengill, co-director of “The Reagan Show,” which debuts this September on CNN, said that every step of this project was nurtured through the support of the Camden International Film Festival and Points North Institute, “from our very first pitch there in 2014, through the editing lab in 2015, and now screening it in 2017. It's nearly impossible to overstate how valuable the input of team CIFF has been to the film's success, including securing distribution with CNN … we're thrilled to be able to bring it back to what feels like home.”

Points North Fellowship

The Points North Fellowship helps six early-career filmmakers accelerate the development of their feature-length documentary projects through a combination of funding, mentorship, workshops, industry meetings and participation in the annual Points North Pitch. This year’s mentors include Kristin Feeley, director of Labs and Artist Support Programs at Sundance Institute; Ryan Harrington, Hot Docs Industry Programs Director; and Mila Aung-Thwin, producer/director of EyeSteelFilm.

Following are the 2017 Points North Fellows:  “Area 2,” exploring the Chicago police torture saga (directed by James Sorrels, produced by Joshua Louis Simon): “Ghost Wives,” a documentary/fiction hybrid about a Chinese journalist investigating the case of a real-life serial killer who killed six women to sell their bodies for ghost weddings (directed by Eva Weber); “Hwangsa,” a cinematic portrait of enormous dust storms (directed by Claire Sanford, produced by Adam Pajot Gendron); “Jacinta,” a portrait of a family in Maine fractured by a cycle of addiction, incarceration and crime (directed by Jessica Earnshaw, produced by Holly Meehl and Nimisha Murkeji); “Midnight Traveler,” which follows the struggles of a family of Afghan filmmakers on the run from the Taliban (directed by refugee Hassan Fazili, produced/edited by Emelie Mahdavian); and an untitled “safer schools” project that explores the landscape of 21st-century school security in the United States (directed by Todd Chandler, produced by Ted Passon and Kevin Iwashina).

North Star Scholarship

The inaugural North Star Scholarship mentors include Jennifer MacArthur, producer at Borderline Media; Elise McCave, director of narrative film at Kickstarter; Monika Navarro, senior manager of Content + Initiatives at ITVS; and Rose Vincelli Gustine, director of operations, MFA Social Documentary Film, School of Visual Arts.

The 2017 North Star Scholarship recipients are: Paige Polk, a storyteller and communications designer based in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Jude Chehab, a Lebanese/American filmmaker, whose early career work has landed over 20 international awards in film festivals worldwide; Ishan Thakore, a journalist and filmmaker based in East Brunswick, N.J.; and Miasarah Lai, a Chicago-based filmmaker.

Shortform Editing Residency

Fostering an informal, collaborative environment for independent filmmakers and journalists to edit their documentary shorts and series with guidance from peers and experienced mentors, the Shortform Editing Residency begins one week prior to the start of CIFF. During the festival, participants meet with some of the industry’s leading funders and distributors of shorts and series. Mentors include directors Donal Mosher, Michael Palmieri, Farihah Zaman and Sadie Bass.

The 2017 Shortform Editing Residency selections are: “Aftermaths,” a hybrid documentary exploring the psychological impact of peace for FARC female rebels who have defined themselves for so long by war in Colombia (directed by Emily Wright); “The Children’s City,” which follows fifth graders from suburban Portland, Ore., as they navigate a simulated world (directed by Mike Attie and Meghan O’Hara); “The Last Child,” about a 23-year-old man who moves back into his parents house and seems content to resume his role as the baby of the family (directed by Kamau Bilal); and “Stray,” which enters the world of Turkish street dogs (directed by Elizabeth Lo).

For more information about all the Points North Forum programming, visit

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

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