Camden International Film Festival and all is right in the world.
I should say that Camden is Maine, not New Jersey, I mention this because last year when the festival was put on my radar I considered driving across New York and going to the wrong city. This year I considered making a trip to the right city with a friend but we couldn’t line up dates to go together.
CIFF is a documentary festival unlike any other. A beautifully curated festival it has the best docs from the previous year not only from other festivals but going to other fests. Last year I delighted in HALE COUNTY and MAIDEN before they became big deals. This year they have a kick ass slate of films that I’m certain are going to be talked about (I’ll give you some choices in a minute).
I know there are other doc fest, say Hot Docs or DOC NYC, but they are huge and almost unmanageable. They screen so many films that by the end you don’t know which way is up. With CIFF its manageable and limited to not only the cream of the crop but also damn interesting films, sure some of these are not going to be in the Oscar mix, but they are the ones you will be talking about.
I love this festival.
Last year it was sprung on me unexpectedly and I fell in love with it. Half way through my coverage last year I was reaching out to friends saying they had to cover this. As a result Nate Hood jumped in as did a few others. This year when I got the press release of the schedule I just jumped and started forwarding it simply saying cover this.
What you need to do is put it on your list of festivals to watch. Look at their schedule and make notes. What they are a screening are going to be the docs you should be seeing. Read the reviews that post from various places and you’ll see that the films really are that good. (God bless the programmers-may they choose films forever)
Okay on to the important stuff- what you should be seeing.
First off we’ve covered seven films at various festivals this year already.
AFTER PARKLAND- You maybe tired of docs about the aftermath of a tragedy, I was, but this one's different and a must see. Its gotten better in my mind since I saw it at Tribeca
AMERICAN FACTORY this portrait of a Chinese company taking over an American company is amazing and is probably going to be an Oscar contender.
CIRCUS OF BOOKS great time with great people as the filmmakers investigate the fact that their straight laced parents ran a gay porn book store. An absolute joy
KIFARU the story of the fight to save rhinos is a film that Ariela Rubin says you'll need tissues for.
MIDNIGHT FAMILY - A good look at a family run ambulance service in Mexico that will make you happy for what service you have.
ONE CHILD NATION the story of the Chinese one Child policy is a film that rocked Joe Bendel
WATSON- portrait of Paul Watson who founded Greenpeace. It is a film Ariela Rubin called beautiful and important.
And we’ve seen a chunk of the films screening and we are working on a chunk more…and the one that we put at the top of the must sees (in addition to the ones listed above) are….
CONTINENTS QUIVER AS MEMORIES ERUPT INTO EARTHFLAMES - a short docu-essay that creates its own world thanks to journal entries beautiful images, a discussion of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing and stray thoughts. Its a one of a kind gem
EPOCH- a two minute short is which is one of the greatest things I've ever seen. EVER. Its Google Maps images and just WOW.
SHOULDER SEASON- short portrait of a dodgeball league in Maine. One of my favorite films of the festival
OVERSEAS-observational documentary about a group of women in the Philippines learning to be maids, nannies and care givers. I suspect this will be in the running for the Oscars.
WALLED UNWALLED- more performance piece than documentary its a one of a kind viewing experience about criminal cases that hinged on seeing through or going beyond walls.
THE CHANGIN TIMES OF IKE WHITE- I would be tempted to call this this year's SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN except it's not that kind of story, it's something much more complex and intriguing but with great music.
SANKARA IS NOT DEAD- Poet Bikontine travels across Burkina Faso to discover the lasting influence of murdered leader Thomas Sankara. It's a lovely portrait of a country and a hero.
NARROWSBURG- the story of a town, an actor (and ex-con), their dreams and a film festival. Its a wild true story for anyone who thought about making a movie.
But don't stop at this list everything we've seen, which is well over 50 films, is worth trying. If it looks good follow Hunter S Thompson's advice and "buy a ticket and take a ride"
If you can go to the festival. All the information on the films or for tickets is here and travel information is here. If you can’t go keep checking back for reviews of their huge sked of films.