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Camden International Film Festival Blog.



Jurying a festival can be a very challenging experience, especially when its at one of the best programmed festivals in the world. As the official program for SILVERDOCS came to a close yesterday and my duty as a jury member came to a close, I’ve had the opportunity to spend the past couple of days letting all the material I had the chance to view in DC soak in. There was a lot.

The shorts at this year’s SILVERDOCS Festival challenged viewers in a number of ways. It was a very strong program with what seemed to be a number of great works coming from Scotland and the UK. Sky and her team did a wonderful job pairing similar themed shorts with features as well as constructing several shorts programs on different subjects. In the end, our jury decided to give 2 special jury mentions to films that have been receiving great attention on the circuit, THE POODLE TRAINER and BETWEEN DREAMS. But it was a new film by UK director Andy Taylor Smith called THIS CHAIR IS NOT ME that resonated the most with our jury. The film follows Alan Martin as he speaks about the turning point in his life, the point where he decides that he will no longer be defined by his cerebral palsy, but as the beautiful and unique individual he is. Our reason for awarding this film?

“The film we are honoring strikes a perfect balance of substance and style. By mimicking the subject’s refusal to limit himself, the filmmaker pushes the boundaries of traditional storytelling techniques. Using an innovative visual language and complex narrative structure, it allows viewers an opportunity to experience the world through the subject’s unique point of view.”

All in all, my first SILVERDOCS experience surpassed my very high expectations. There is a reason why so many people consider this the largest and best doc festival in the US. Sky and her team do an amazing job programming, not just features and shorts but also a number of wonderful sidebars. There is also a great sense of community between filmmakers and industry, despite the festival being so large. I was quite surprised at just how “homey” this festival felt. And then there is the Conference and The Good Pitch which I was only able to make for one afternoon. The pitches were compelling and the entire Good Pitch crew ran one of the tightest events I’ve seen in quite some time. They had a number of industry broadcasters, NGO’s and philanthropists reviewing pitches…and believe it or not, it was a success! Out of the 3 pitches I saw, all walked away with leads to broadcast and one very special filmmaker went home with nearly $60,000 in hand.

So despite the intense heat, SILVERDOCS was an unforgettable experience. We walked away with several shorts and some features that we are very excited about sharing with our audiences next Fall. This will be the last festival I’ll attend before CIFF and it was a pleasure to end on such a high note. We’ve been traveling pretty much non-stop since February searching for little film treasures along the way…there’s lots and they’re out there!

Congrats to Sky Sitney and crew for putting on such a wonderful event. Looking forward to 2011.


CIFF Collaborates on ALLELUIA JUNCTION Screening

The Camden International Film Festival is proud to be teaming up with local filmmaker, Dana Rae Warren to premiere her latest work ALLELUIA JUNCTION at the Strand Theatre on July 3rd, 2010. The film follows 80 people ages 10 to 85 sing their way across 15 time zones in 2 weeks. By the time they arrive in the Russian Far East on the 4th of July,
they have a new understanding of what it means to be a citizen of the world.

Reflecting the choir’s magical experience on the Trans-Siberian Railway (portrayed in the film), the day begins with a vintage train ride from Brunswick to Rockland, Maine.
Maine Eastern Railroad will sponsor the romantic Parlor Car, which will serve as an event car for a “sing-along” with choir members. Upon arriving at the train station restaurant, riders will be treated to historical archival train footage provided by Maine-based Northeast Historic Film.

A free reception will follow at the gallery of North Haven artist Eric Hopkins. The film’s musicians will perform four pieces.

This is a free screening! For more information visit The Strand Theatre’s website.

Check out the trailer here.

CIFF Director Will Attend SILVERDOCS 2010 as Jury Member

Last week SILVERDOCS announced an impressive slate of documentary films for their 2010 festival. Camden IFF’s Ben Fowlie has been asked to be on the shorts jury along with Aron Gaudet from THE WAY WE GET BY and Elena Fortes from the amazing doc fest and traveling showcase, AMBULANTE. We are very honored to be able to take part in the festival in such a meaningful way… and we definitely look forward to checking out some of the feature offerings.

Aside from film screenings, SILVERDOCS also hosts THE GOOD PITCH in collaboration with the Sundance Institute and Channel 4. 8 films in production will have a chance “pitch” their projects and associated campaigns in front of a who’s who from the doc community as well as invited NGOs, charities, foundations, campaigners, advertising agencies and media.

Oh, one final note…SILVERDOCS will also be honoring Fred Wiseman this year! They’ll be showing a number of his works, although unfortunately not his 1998 248 minute film called BELFAST, MAINE a portrait of our neighbors to the North. Anyone living in Maine and especially the Midcoast should check this out, you’re bound to recognize someone.

Congrats to Sky Sitney and crew on another wonderful program! And if you are heading to DC in about three weeks for the festival, drop us a line and say hello!

CIFF Sponsors The DocYard

The Camden International Film Festival is honored to announce its participation in The DocYard, a new documentary screening series taking place at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA.

The bi-weekly series will kick off on June 7th at 8PM with a screening of the acclaimed doc, CLEANFLIX. Just like we do in Camden, all films will be accompanied by a filmmaker or two for a post-screening Q&A and shenanigans (which will take place at NOIR in the Charles Hotel after the film). There are a few notable CIFF alums who will take part in the inaugural summer series, including P-STAR RISING and last years winner of the Emerging Cinematic Vision Award, Patrick Shen’s PHILOSOPHER KINGS.

The series is brought to you by our good friends, The LEF Foundation and Boston’s very own Principle Pictures (creators of great docs!)

Now you might ask why a film festival in Maine would want anything to do with a screening series in Boston. There are two answers…
1.) Our love for docs knows no boundaries.
2.) It’s a great way to share our mission with the very wonderful filmmaking community in Boston.

So we hope you all enjoy these offerings and when it’s all done on Sept. 13, have no fear the Camden IFF falls just two weeks later (Sept. 30 – Oct. 3)!!!

For more information, visit The DocYard site, or friend us on facebook.

CIFF at Hot Docs

Before I get into a much delayed recap of CIFF’s first experience at North America’s largest documentary film festival, I must apologize on the radio silence over the past month and a half. There’s been much going on here this spring including a new website (which is nearly ready to launch) and of course, lots of time in dark theatres at film fests looking for some quality stories….They ARE certainly out there and Hot Docs had their fair share!

So Hot Docs is one that I’ve been wanting to attend since research and dreaming began for CIFF back in 2004. The great thing about festivals is that they all have their own distinct feel. Sometimes by the end you’re ready to go home, others like Hot Docs you wish could continue on forever. There is something magical about an event the size of Hot Docs and its ability to make you feel completely comfortable. Other fests similar in size seem disjointed and unnavigable. Screenings and sessions are held in gorgeous facilities throughout several universities that even make Harvard Yard look unappealing. Then there is Toronto, one of my favorite cities from my touring days with my old band CONSTANTS.

Most importantly, Hot Docs is an event that allows for some serious networking between key industry leaders from all over the world. Programmers, distributors, filmmakers and broadcasters all come together, carving out conversations between screenings or panels outside in sun filled green spaces or at parties like the British Party thrown by Sheffield with a captivating dj spinning classics from Journey.

So thanks to Sean Farnel and the entire Hot Docs crew for providing one hell of a week…paradise found!

Here are a few trailer from some choice films we previewed…Enjoy and mark your calendar now for Hot Docs 2011. We’ll see you there!

Now Accepting Submissions for CIFF 2010!

The Camden International Film Festival has officially opened its call for entries for 2010 and is now accepting documentary feature and short submissions for the 6th Annual Camden IFF. The deadline for online submissions is August 1st, 2010. The festival emphasizes work that focus on artistry and craft, as well as films that expose important issues of our day. Above all else, the festival is looking for a good stories, BIG and small.

Submissions deadlines are below.

Earlybird deadline: May 15th.
Regular Deadline: June 15th.
Late Deadline: July 15th.
Extended deadline: August 1st.

For more information, or to submit your film visit our submissions page.

A few testimonials from ’09 visiting filmmakers:
“…It’s truly hard to beat finding yourself in this small village on the coast of Maine, welcomed by a crew of staff and volunteers who seem to be taking a page from the old Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney days (let’s put on a show and let’s get all our friends to help out!), who clearly love docs and love their hometown… So congrats to the entire staff of CIFF. You’ve arrived. And – particularly in the current festival environment – not a moment too soon.”
AJ Schnack – Director, Convention

“In the vast sea of nearly impenetrable festival juggernauts and the countless other festivals void of soul and originality, it’s refreshing to know that there are places, like the Camden International Film Festival, where providing audiences with the opportunity to interact with filmmakers and honoring filmmakers isn’t an afterthought but the reason to be gathering in the first place…. Thankfully there are festivals that simply get it – like the brilliantly hip and culturally relevant CIFF.”
Patrick Shen – Director, The Philosopher Kings

“This festival has a sharp young energy, strong programming, and seriously engaged audiences (so engaged that our Q&A got a bit intense – an awesome, if prickly situation.)”
Donal Mosher – Director, October Country