Courtesy of Points North Institute
The 18th edition of the Camden Intl. Film Festival, kicking off Sept. 15, will feature a handful of award-contending documentaries fresh off showings at Telluride and the Toronto film festivals. The Maine-based festival will unfold in a hybrid format, with both in-person events over a three-day period concluding Sept. 18, and online screenings available from Sept. 15 to Sept. 25 to audiences across North America.
This year’s CIFF highlights include the U.S. premiere of Tamana Ayazi and Marcel Mettelsiefen’s Netflix release “In Her Hands,” which follows one of Afghanistan’s first female mayors during the months leading up to the Taliban takeover the country in 2021; Chris Smith’s “Sr.,” centered on the life and career of Robert Downey Sr. and his relationship to his son, Robert Downey Jr.; and Steve James’ “A Compassionate Spy,” about Manhattan Project physicist, Soviet spy and University of Chicago alum Theodore Hall. Each of the three featured documentaries will have made its world premiere before CIFF, at festivals in Toronto, Telluride and Venice, respectively.
The fest will also offer a special sneak preview of Patricio Guzman’s “My Imaginary Country,” which chronicles the recent protests in Chile in which millions took to the street to demand democracy, dignity, and a new constitution.
It is also teasing “a special secret screening” which will be the opening night film, with little additional information besides the fact that it is a new film by an Academy Award-winning director that will be in attendance.
Located in a small, remote village on the coast of Maine that is two hours from a major airport, CIFF has become an Oscar campaign hotspot in recent years. Last year, Oscar contending docus including “The Rescue” (Nat. Geo), “Procession” (Netflix), “Ascension” (MTV Documentaries), and “Flee” (Neon) all screened at CIFF, where the who’s who of the doc community — including Oscar winner Alex Gibney, Cinetic Media founder and principal John Sloss and former Sundance Institute CEO Keri Putnam – come to celebrate the fest.
“Much of our slate this year will be brand new to audiences in the U.S. or North America, and one of the greatest things we can do as a festival is to build buzz and momentum for (films) here,” says Ben Fowlie, executive and artistic director of the Points North Institute and founder of CIFF. “This means getting filmmakers to Maine for their in-person screenings and connecting them with attending industry and press.”
All told, the 2022 fest will include 34 features and 40 short films from over 41 countries.
Over 60% of the entire program is directed or co-directed by BIPOC filmmakers; this is the sixth consecutive edition that the festival has reached gender parity within the program.
“This year’s program celebrates the diversity of voices and forms in documentary and cinematic nonfiction,” says Fowlie. “This year’s program emphasizes the international that represents the ‘I’ in CIFF and reminds us time and again of the limitless creative potential and potency of the documentary form.”
Alex Pritz’s “The Territory,” Reid Davenport’s “I Didn’t See You There,” and Margaret Brown’s “Descendant” are among the Sundance 2022 docus screening at CIFF. Jason Kohn’s “Nothing Lasts Forever,” which premiered at the Berlin Intl. Film Festival in February and Jennifer Tiexiera and Camilla Hall’s “Subject,” which debuted at Tribeca Festival in June, are also part of this year’s lineup.
“We were drawn to films that were aesthetically and politically urgent, that transformed us and that transported us somewhere new as viewers,” says Fowlie. “We are always looking for films and filmmakers that are taking creative risks and pushing the boundaries of traditional cinematic language with bold, singular visions. For all of the selected work, it is important for us to have an understanding of the film and filmmaker’s relationships with the communities, contributors, and collaborators involved.”
A program of Points North Institute, CIFF will also present two world premieres: Mike Day’s “Cowboy Poets,” about American national cowboy poetry gatherings and “Lily Frances Henderson’s “This Much We Know,” about the investigation of Las Vegas teenager Levi Presley’s suicide, which leads to the story of a city with the highest suicide rate in the country, and a nation scrambling to bury decades of nuclear excess in a nearby mountain.
The festival will present seven North American premieres, including “Foragers” by Jumana Manna, recent Locarno premieres “It Is Night in America” by Ana Vaz and Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s “Matter Out of Place,” as well as “Polaris” by Ainara Vera, which premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.
In honor of Diane Weyermann, the industry veteran and former chief content officer at Participant who died in October 2021, CIFF will screen several of the last films she executive produced, including James’ “A Compassionate Spy,’ Geeta Gandbhir and Sam Pollard’s “Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power” and Margaret Brown’s “Descendant.”
For the third consecutive year, CIFF will present its filmmaker solidarity fund. The fund will provide $300 honoraria to all feature and short filmmaking teams participating in the virtual festival. This year also marks the return of in-person panels and masterclasses through the festival’s Points North Forum program, which will feature conversations around the ethics of film financing, an exploration of experimental filmmaking about the climate, a masterclass led by veteran editor Maya Daisy Hawke and a special performance lecture on sensorial cinema led by award-winning Iranian artist Maryam Tafakory.
The forum program will conclude with a “town hall” gathering of the documentary community following the screening of “Subject,” which explores the life-altering experience of documenting one’s life on screen through the participants of five acclaimed docus.
The 2022 festival will run concurrently with Points North Artist Programs, a fellowship that supports early- and mid-career filmmakers. This year 21 projects will be supported through four fellowship programs.
A complete list of the program’s features and short can be found below.
“5 Dreamers and the Horse”
“A Compassionate Spy”
“All Of Our Heartbeats Are Connected Through Exploding Stars”
“All That Breathes”
“Crows Are White”
“Day After… “
“Geographies of Solitude”
“I Didn’t See You There”
“In Her Hands”
“It Is Night in America”
“Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power”
“Matter Out of Place”
“My Imaginary Country”
“Nothing Lasts Forever”
“Rewind & Play”
“This Much We Know”
“What We Leave Behind”
“Bigger on the Inside”
“Call Me Jonathan”
“Congress of Idling Persons”
“Deerfoot of the Diamond”
“Everything Wrong and Nowhere to Go”
“Fire in the Sea”
“The Family Statement”
“Life Without Dreams”
“Murmurs of the Jungle”
“One Survives by Hiding”
“The Sower of Stars”
“When the LAPD Blows Up Your Neighborhood”
Variety's Addie Morfoot contributed to this post.