A collection of reviews of films from off the beaten path; a travel guide for those who love the cinematic world and want more than the mainstream releases.
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
CIFF Announces 2018 Features and Storyforms (VR) Lineup
Points North Institute announces 2018 Forum and Artist Programs at Camden International Film Festival
Documentary filmmakers and industry leaders convene for a series of workshops, residencies, masterclasses, panels, networking events, and the celebrated Points North Pitch.
Forum Highlights Include a Masterclass with renowned iconoclast Russian director Vitaly Mansky, conversations between filmmakers James Longley and Talal Derki, Astra Taylor, Alexis Bloom and Alex Gibney, Jill Magid and Nathaniel Kahn, and for the first time, real-time public funding of selected projects at the Points North Pitch.
August 30, 2018 [Camden, Maine] – The Points North Institute has unveiled the lineup for its 10th annual Points North Forum, as well as the 30 documentary filmmakers selected for its 2018 Artist Programs. Industry delegates include Maxyne Franklin (Doc Society), Ryan Harrington (Pulse Films), Hayley Pappas (RYOT Films), Chi-hui Yang (Ford Foundation / JustFilms), and many more.
The Points North Forum runs concurrently with the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) from September 14 – 16 at the historic Camden Opera House and High Mountain Hall in Camden, Maine. Workshops, masterclasses and panel discussions are presented in tandem with CIFF screenings, parties and receptions, presenting attendees with numerous opportunities to connect – both formally and informally - with an impressive roster of the documentary film industry’s most accomplished storytellers and influential decision makers.
One of the Forum’s most popular and beloved events is the Points North Pitch, the culmination of the year-long long Points North Fellowship. Six teams of filmmakers work with industry mentors to present their feature documentary works-in-progress to a top-level panel of funders, producers and broadcasters -- all before a live audience at the Camden Opera House. For the 2nd year, Showtime Documentary Films is the Presenting Sponsor of the Fellowship.
For the first time, nearly 500 audience members at the pitch will have an opportunity to contribute to a live crowdfunding campaign, providing direct funding to all six projects. As part of a new partnership with the Chicago Media Project, Points North Fellows will also have an opportunity to participate in a 2nd public pitch session at CMP’s DOC 10 festival in April. Following the pitch, panelists will select one winner of the Points North Pitch Award, which includes an in-kind post-production package from Boston-based Modulus Studios.
In keeping with the Camden International Film Festival’s mission to foster and support rising talent, The Points North Institute (PNI), parent organization of the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF), runs a suite of year-round artist support programs.
The Fellowship and Pitch, along with the week-long North Star Residency and Shortform Editing Residency, are among the PNI Artist Programs designed to connect filmmakers with mentors, funders and potential collaborators, using the Camden International Film Festival as a platform to build a community of support, nurture the careers of diverse nonfiction storytellers, and help them develop a stronger artistic voice.
Since 2015, the number of filmmakers and artists supported annually by the Points North Institute has multiplied more than five-fold, thanks to new or expanded industry support and partnerships with Showtime Documentary Films, Kickstarter, RYOT Films, Chicago Media Project, POV, Maine Media Workshops, Modulus Studios, School of Visual Arts MFA Social Documentary Film, LEF Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, the MAE Private Foundation, Cohen Gardner LLC, Documentary Educational Resources, CNN Films, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
“It’s a privilege to bring together such a diverse, talented and accomplished group of filmmakers in Camden, where they can find creative inspiration and a welcoming, inclusive community,” says the Points North Institute’s Program Director Sean Flynn. “Even better, these programs create opportunities to connect with major funders, distributors and producers in more personal ways than you’d find at most festivals or markets.” A full list of the 2018 Artist Programs and Recipients is below.
Other highlighted Forum events include a conversation between Talal Derki (OF FATHERS AND SONS) and James Longley (ANGELS ARE MADE OF LIGHT), a Masterclass with Russian iconoclast Vitaly Mansky, as well as two Director’s Commentary Sessions: one on Sound and Score with directors Mike Palmieri and Donal Mosher (THE GOSPEL OF EUREKA), and the second on Narrative Construction with Gabrielle Brady, director of ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS. The Forum will also feature an Editing Masterclass with editors Lindsay Utz and Enat Sidi, and an extended conversation between filmmaker and contemporary artist Jill Magid (THE PROPOSAL) and Academy-Award nominated director Nathaniel Kahn (THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING).
Central to the 2018 Forum is the new Points North Agora: a series of informal yet rigorous conversations about the role of documentary, journalism, and co-creation models in this age of murky realities, post-truth, and political polarization. Key speakers at the Agora will be Astra Taylor (WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?), Alexis Bloom and Alex Gibney (DIVIDE AND CONQUER: THE STORY OF ROGER AILES), and Maxim Pozdorovkin (THE TRUTH ABOUT KILLER ROBOTS).
Access to the full conference program is open to all CIFF passholders. Passes are now on sale on the Camden International Film Festival website. For more information, please visit: https://pointsnorthinstitute.org/ciff
10:00am - 11:30am (High Mountain Hall) Children of War: A Conversation between Talal Derki and James Longley Both masterpieces of observational cinema, Talal Derki’s OF FATHERS AND SONS and James Longley’s ANGELS ARE MADE OF LIGHT offer reflections on the meaning of family, the nature of childhood, and the prospects for peace in the midst of protracted conflict. In this intimate conversation, the two directors discuss the aesthetic and ethical considerations that went into making these portraits of children whose daily lives and futures are shaped inexorably by war.
12:00pm - 1:30pm (Camden Opera House - Tucker Room) Director's Commentary: Sound and Score in THE GOSPEL OF EUREKA Directors (and musicians!) Mike Palmieri and Donal Mosher offer a guided tour into the many sonic layers of their aural masterpiece THE GOSPEL OF EUREKA and other original soundtracks. Few directors are as involved in the scoring process as these two: join them in a live commentary of the film’s key musical moments, with insights into the crucial relationship between score, edit, and sound design as well as working with the film’s glorious omnipotent orator Mx Justin Vivian Bond. THE GOSPEL OF EUREKA plays the Camden Opera House on Saturday Sept 15th at 6:30pm
12:00pm - 1:30pm (High Mountain Hall) In the Cut: Editing Masterclass with Enat Sidi and Lindsay Utz No matter how much we celebrate “auteur” directors, documentaries are almost never the product of a singular vision. In this in-depth conversation, Enat Sidi (Detropia, The Wolfpack) and Lindsay Utz (Quest, In Country), who have collaborated on multiple projects, discuss the delicate craft of documentary editing and the artistic process that unfolds not only between director and editor, but between fellow editors.
2:00pm - 3:30pm (High Mountain Hall) Vitaly Mansky Masterclass No one brings quite the wit, grit, and color to the portrayal of contemporary Russia as director Vitaly Mansky. His prolific and award-winning works have inspired, enticed, and inflamed many. Considered one of Russia's best documentary talents, we’re humbled to welcome Vitaly to Camden to share his process in a chronological masterclass, featuring highlights of some of his most difficult shoots and insights into his very particular form of creative subversion.
3:00pm - 4:30pm (Camden Opera House - Tucker Room) Private Collections: A Conversation between Jill Magid and Nathaniel Kahn Who controls access to a work of art? And who determines its value? Jill Magid and Nathaniel Kahn discuss how the worlds of art and commerce collide in their films, which playfully peel back the layers of systems that allow an architect’s legacy to become guarded intellectual property and an artist’s works to be traded as speculative assets.
Nathaniel Kahn (THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING)
Jill Magid (THE PROPOSAL)
5:00pm - 6:30pm (High Mountain Hall) Points North Reception presented by LEF Foundation After a busy day of panels, masterclasses and screenings, join the LEF Foundation for drinks, light fare and conversation with new friends at this annual gathering of the documentary film community. Open to All Access and Screenings + Forum passholders only.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
10:00am - 12:30pm (Camden Opera House Auditorium) Points North Pitch Whether you’re a film professional or not, the Points North Pitch is an invaluable chance to learn about the process of developing a documentary film and see first-hand how leading decision makers evaluate projects. Six teams of filmmakers selected for the Points North Fellowship will pitch their works-in-progress to a distinguished panel of funders, broadcasters, distributors and producers. Each pitch lasts exactly 7 minutes, followed by 12 minutes of constructive feedback.
This year, you can show your support for the Points North Fellows by contributing to our live crowdfunding campaign. Text“PITCH” to 44321 to donate directly from your phone! Funds raised will be split evenly between all 6 projects. Panelists:
Charlotte Cook (Field of Vision)
Maxyne Franklin (Doc Society)
Leah Giblin (Cinereach)
Ryan Harrington (Pulse Films)
Justine Nagan (POV)
Hayley Pappas (RYOT Films)
Jose Rodriguez (Tribeca Film Institute)
Caroline von Kuhn (SFFILM)
Chi-hui Yang (Ford Foundation / Just Films)
Moderated by Brian Newman (Sub Genre)
1:30pm- 3:00pm (Camden Opera House - Tucker Room) Director's Commentary: Narrative Construction in ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS A film like ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS is a revelation on many fronts - beyond its masterful sound and imagery, the film’s humanity glows at its core. Filmmaker Gabrielle Brady explores the central ideas within her film by talking through her process and contextualising the film’s hybrid elements in terms of ethics, technique, craft, and performance. Her director’s commentary will be interactive with the audience, exploring construction and co-creation in documentary filmmaking while dissecting how certain narrative tools, when appropriated into the documentary form, allow access to deeper emotional truths.ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS plays the Camden Opera House on Friday Sept 14th at 6:30pm
1:30pm - 5pm (High Mountain Hall) The Points North Agora Taking inspiration from the Athenian site of public assembly and democratic debate, the Points North Agora is a series of informal yet rigorous conversations about non-fiction approaches to the current state of reality. Using selections from the CIFF program as a starting point, filmmakers and audiences are invited to exchange their thoughts on how the documentary form can address, question, and potentially disrupt power structures, while also debating the role of documentary in a media landscape increasingly defined by misinformation, political polarization and a seeming crisis of faith in core democratic values.
(1:30-2:15) The Public Sphere Can democracy survive in an age of increasing inequality and global high finance, and can journalism and non-fiction filmmaking help?
Astra Taylor (WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?)
Director (SECRET SCREENING)
(2:15-3:00) Media Manipulation What does it mean when journalism - once a tool for democratic empowerment - becomes an amplifier of fear, misinformation, and political division?
Alexis Bloom (DIVIDE AND CONQUER)
Alex Gibney (DIVIDE AND CONQUER)
Maxim Pozdorovkin (THE TRUTH ABOUT KILLER ROBOTS)
Sky Sitney (Double Exposure Film Festival)
(3:30 - 5:00) Documentary as Co-Creation Make media with people and within communities rather than for or about; Focus on process rather than just product; Reframe who gets to tell and represent which story and why; Create and use new technology, new workflows, new tools, new kinds of teams --- these are but a few of the tenets proposed for new models of co-creation. This conversation brings together a constellation of co-creators, all actively engaged in finding a new language of storytelling that shifts narrative paradigms. Together they discuss their approaches to not only interpreting the world, but also changing it.
Adam Mazo (DAWNLAND)
Tracy Rector (DAWNLAND)
Nick Pilarski (FIREFLIES: A BROWNSVILLE STORY)
Jasmine Bowie (Brownsville Community Justice Center)
Kindling Fund / SPACE Gallery session (12pm - 1pm) The Kindling Fund supports artist-organized projects that engage audiences and incorporate the visual arts in meaningful ways. With a focus on experimentation, the Fund distributes grants to Maine artists ranging from $1,500 - $5,000. Successful applications value unconventional engagement, critical dialogue, collaboration, and create new models for presenting artists' work. This event is one of six statewide informational sessions that are free and open to the public. Attendance is recommended for applicants living in Maine who are not currently enrolled in an academic program.
Elizabeth Spavento (SPACE Gallery)
2018 Artist Programs
Each of Points North Institute’s Artist Support Programs are designed to connect filmmakers with mentors, funders and potential collaborators, using the Camden International Film Festival as a platform to build a community of support, nurture the careers of diverse nonfiction storytellers, and help them develop a stronger artistic voice.
PNI Artist Programs Include the Points North Fellowship and Pitch, The North Star Residency, The Shortform Editing Residency, The Camden/TFI Retreat, and the Points North 1:1 Meetings.
In 2018, Points North is offering two week-long residency programs for early-career filmmakers.
The North Star Residency brings together five young filmmakers of color to participate in career-building workshops, screenings, critical discussions and industry meetings, while living and working together in a large private residence. The program was developed in partnership with Kickstarter. Additional support provided by RYOT Films, the School of Visual Arts Social Documentary MFA program and Maine Media Workshops + College, which is offering a $1200 tuition scholarship to all 2018 North Star filmmakers.
The 3rd edition of the Shortform Editing Residency is made possible by POV, which joins for the first time as a Major Sponsor, with additional support from the MAE Private Foundation. The residency convenes four filmmakers with short documentary in post-production for a week of focused editing, workshops and industry meetings.
Points North’s 1:1 Meetings program connects 15 documentary features in development with more than 15 Industry Delegates, including representatives from Ford Foundation, Sundance Institute, Cinereach, Pulse Films, San Francisco Film Society, ITVS, Field of Vision and more.
“This year, we welcome 3 different artist programs to Midcoast Maine in the week leading up the festival, and their seminars and workshops will flow into the 3-day Forum, which is designed to be accessible and energising; productive but also provocative’’ says Senior Programmer Samara Chadwick. “Our intent is to create the fertile soils in which new works can continue to grow, and where the richness of filmmakers’ behind-the-scenes processes can be shared with the greater public.”
We are proud to announce the selections for the 2018 Points North Institute Artist Programs:
The Ark When two eccentric, blue-collar workers face eviction from their home in upscale Southampton, they come up with a marvelous plan – a broken-down 50-foot yacht and a chance of redemption. The Ark is a dark, comedic observational documentary about those who thrive in the strange and dangerous cracks of the American Dream. Directed by Madeline Gordon Producer by Francesca Pagani, Paul Gallasch
The In Between Through a collection of interweaving vignettes, The In Between follows a cast of characters that take us on a tour of life on the Mexican-American border. Here, people’s lives are spread across two countries, connected by a bridge that everyone must cross. Following a journalist capturing the changing landscape as a new administration settles in, a mother straddling a life in two countries to keep her family together, and the quotidian moments of the lives lived in between two nations and their cultures. The In Between is a poetic ode to a greater reality of the border, offering a nuanced and intimate portrait of a place and its people at the heart of Mexican-American identity. Directed by Robie Flores
Joonam Joonam is the story of one filmmaker’s search to uncover her family’s Iranian past. Diving head first into the precarious coming-of-age tales of her grandmother, mother, and self, the filmmaker reflects on the evolving shape of girlhood across her family’s path from Iran to America. A deeply personal story following three generations of women, Joonam explores the relationships between mother and daughter, Iran and America, and the immigrant experience as it echoes through time. Directed by Sierra Urich
Light Darkness Light Light Darkness Light follows Ian’s pioneering journey into medical history as he becomes one of the first people in the world to receive a bionic eye implant and see again after thirty years of blindness. Told through Ian’s intimate, first person experience as he participates in an experimental medical trial, the film presents an expansive personal odyssey that explores the nature of perception, faith, technology, memory, and the construct of reality. Directed by Landon Van Soest Produced by Trevor Martin
Plan C for Civilization In 2019 a team of scientists launch a 300-foot balloon into Earth's stratosphere - the first step toward a “geoengineering” technology to shield us from the sun, putting human hands on the levers of Earth's climate. Decades after the first warnings that carbon emissions would steer us toward a cliff, endless catastrophes signal we’re already in freefall. Geoengineering could buy us time or trigger unintended effects that ripple across our planet. Is this a threshold we’re willing to cross? Directed by Ben Kalina, Jennifer Schneider
The Sacred and the Snake The Sacred and the Snake' is a vérité, character-driven documentary about four Native oil pipeline fighters - Lauren, Olive, Cheryl, and Vanessa - who reinvent themselves through their experiences at Standing Rock. Directed by Sara Lafleur-Vetter, Jonathan Klett Produced by Romin Lee Johnson
North Star Residency Mentors: Iyabo Boyd (Brown Girls Doc Mafia), Tracy Rector (Vision Maker Media), Assia Boundaoui (The Feeling of Being Watched), Elise McCave + Liz Cook Mowe (Kickstarter), Monika Navarro + Pamela Torno (ITVS), Andrea Meditch (Back Allie Films)
The 2018 North Star Residency recipients are: BRITTANY SHYNE Brittany Shyne’s works analyze race, gender and culture by utilizing observational techniques and poetic language. Her films seek to depict the complexity of the human experience by examining themes such as personal histories; alienation, and cultural modernization. Brittany is currently working on a documentary project about generational black farmers.
DANIEL CHEIN Daniel Chein is an independent filmmaker whose work explores transculturalism and expressions of identity in the performative. His feature documentary in development, SONSPLITTER, profiles a German Turk dancer for the internationally renowned Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, tracing his identity and intergenerational trauma through the lens of performance.
MILTON GUILLEN Milton Guillén is a Nicaraguan independent filmmaker who dwells in the borders between fiction and documentaries and the cinematic intersections of ethnographic research and sensorial experiences. At the moment Milton is working on an observational auter-ish anthology of displaced activists/refugees that focuses on both the physical and mental health threats they face in their newly found spaces.
VICKY DU Vicky Du has directed and edited films for Art21, TEDx, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The North Face, and her short film GAYSIANS (2016) screened at 30+ film festivals worldwide. She is currently in production on her first feature documentary on Chinese diaspora and intergenerational trauma.
SHELBY COLEY Shelby Zoe Coley is a Black queer filmmaker working across nonfiction and documentary forms. Shelby uses rhythm portraiture and the spoken word to explore intersections between queerness race and creative practices––from documenting renowned lesbian performance troupe Split Britches to detailing the origin story of #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke. More details on the program are available at: https://pointsnorthinstitute.org/artist-programs/north-star-residency/
Shortform Editing Residency Mentors: Donal Mosher + Michael Palmieri (The Gospel of Eureka), Chloe Gbai (POV), Mary Lampson (Editor), Lindsay Utz (Editor), Emmanuel Vaughn-Lee (Earthrise), Monika Navarro + Pamela Torno (ITVS)
The 2018 Shortform Editing Residency selections are: DRAWING LIFE Drawing Life combines documentary footage of cartoonist George Booth, with animated stories from his long life, exploring his singular vision of America, and how Booth’s work surmounts lines of class to show a shared humanity. Drawing Life is the first episode in a short form documentary series about visual artists working in cartooning and graphic novel formats. Directed by Nathan Fitch
LUPITA, LA SEMILLA (LUPITA, THE SEED THAT SURVIVED) Set against the backdrop of autonomous Zapatista territory, forced indigenous displacement, increased militarization, and the 2018 elections, we dive into the story of Guadalupe Vázquez Luna — Lupita-- a beautiful and humble massacre survivor who finds her voice alongside “Marichuy,” the first indigenous woman to campaign for president of Mexico. The film asks the viewer, if anyone can change the future and consciousness of Mexico, could it be her? Directed by Monica Wise
A SHOT AT REDEMPTION In 1982, James Stevens (now known legally as TJ Stevens) went to his high school in Northern Virginia with a high-powered rifle, intending to kill himself and anyone else he saw. He shot up the school and took 10 adults hostage for 21 hours, but in the end, no one was hurt. Thirty-six years later, as the rates of mass shooting and suicides are increasing, TJ is ready to talk about his experience and what changed him — a portrait of a complicated man with many twists and turns in his quest for personal redemption. Directed by Carolyn McCulley
SUSTAINED OUTRAGE For over 100 years, the family-owned Charleston Gazette-Mail has been a relentless watchdog over West Virginia’s most powerful, propelled by its unofficial mantra: “Sustained Outrage”. But just eight months after winning the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, the Gazette-Mail grappled with a painful reality: after decades of dwindling readership and revenue, the paper filed for bankruptcy. An intimate look inside the paper, following in real-time as the future of the paper is decided. Directed by Gabriela Cavanagh
Established in 2016, the Points North Institute is the launching pad for the next generation of nonfiction storytellers. Building on the success of the Camden International Film Festival, the Points North Institute’s mission is to bring together a unique, interdisciplinary community of filmmakers, artists, journalists, industry leaders, and audiences, forming a creative hub on the coast of Maine where new stories and talent are discovered, collaborations are born, and the future of nonfiction media is shaped.
Programs include the annual Camden International Film Festival and Points North Forum, as well as a year-round calendar of artist development initiatives that nurture the careers of diverse nonfiction storytellers and help them develop a stronger artistic voice.
Founded in 2005 and recognized as one of the top documentary film festivals in the world, the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) brings the finest non-fiction cinema to the coast of Maine, showcasing nearly 80 documentary films from around the globe each fall. Running concurrently with CIFF, the Points North Forum provides filmmakers with opportunities for professional development and creative inspiration.
Past Forum industry participants include representatives from HBO, A&E, CNN Films, Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and the Sundance Institute.
The 2018 Camden International Film Festival and Points North Forum will take place September 13 - 16 in Camden, Rockport and Rockland, Maine. Major support provided by Showtime Documentary Films, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.