For its 15th edition, the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) which will take place September 12-15, 2019 throughout Camden, Rockport and Rockland, Maine, will present 38 features, 50 short films, and 16 virtual reality and immersive experiences from over 35 countries. More than half of the feature films are presented as major premieres, including the US Premiere of Alex Gibney’s Citizen K.
A program of the Points North Institute, CIFF is one of the top documentary film festivals in the world. The festival’s 2019 edition aims to advance industry-wide conversations about Story & Power — examining the ways in which power structures deeply embedded in society have continued to shape the documentary field, including which stories are told, by whom and for whom.
CIFF will present eight World Premieres by award-winning filmmakers, including BAFTA winner Dan Vernon’s Changin’ Times of Ike White, Martha Shane’s Narrowsburg, Vytautas Puidokas’s El Padre Médico, and Michel Negroponte’s My Autonomous Neighbor, all films that set out to tell a story one way, only to uncover countless unexpected turns.
“We’ve been thinking a lot about how power is inherently embedded in the way films are made, in the stories we uphold about ourselves, our values, our places,” says Senior Programmer Samara Chadwick. “As a way of normalizing the questioning of that power, we have curated constellations of works within the program that, together, offer varying approaches to common narratives.” For example, a trilogy of Filipino films present very different angles on the interwoven histories of the US and the Philippines. The world premiere of Alexander A. Mora’s The Nightcrawlers offers a harrowing undercover look into the Duterte regime’s brutal war on drugs. Sung-A Yoon’s Overseas, a study of filipina domestic workers training to work abroad, is set in sharp contrast to Lauren Greenfield’sThe Kingmaker, which tells the story of Imelda Marcos, exposing her family’s long history of corruption, extravagance, and brutality.
The conflict in Syria will be represented in a kaleidoscope of films, including the US Premiere of Feras Fayyad’s The Cave about a women-led underground hospital, Locarno title Copper Notes of a Dream in which director Reza Farahmand explores the indomitable spirits of children staging a concert in the rubble, and Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’s multiple award winning film, For Sama, documenting a journalist mother’s love letter to her war-born daughter.
As a leading showcase of international works, CIFF welcomes the North American premieres of nine films, including the works of several emerging filmmakers, such as The Giverny Document (Single Channel) by Ja’Tovia Gary, Lovemobil by Elke Margarete Lehrenkrauss, Progress In The Valley of the People Who Don’t Know by Florian Kunert, Sankara is not Dead by Lucie Viver, and La Vida en Común by Ezequiel Yanco.
The festival will present new work by documentary luminaries including Agnès Varda, Brett Story, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Nanfu Wang, Steve Bognar, Julia Reichart, Juan Pablo González, and Ian Cheney. Each of these films, in their own way, finds creative ways of asserting the filmmakers’ role within the story being told. Nearly all screenings will be attended by the filmmakers, with creators from Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, and Syria, as well as creators from over over a dozen indigenous tribes, all converging on the coast of Maine.
Storyforms: Remixing Reality is CIFF’s growing exhibition of immersive documentary experiences and installations. This year the program will feature four room-scale VR and AR installations, nine works of 360° cinema, and a series of large-scale projections that explicitly interrogate representations of race in America, including Garrett Bradley’s award-winning America and Whitney Dow’s The Whiteness Project.
“For the 4th edition of our Storyforms exhibition, we’re showcasing how immersive media can create new spaces for reflection and interrogation of the invisible forces that shape our world,” said Program Director Sean Flynn. Highlighted works include the World Premiere of Alex Suber’s virtual reality documentary, Lux Sine, Lisa Jackson’s Biidaaban: First Light,Common Ground by Darren Emerson and Home with América by Alvaro Morales.
2019 Camden International Film Festival Features
Emily Taguchi | USA | 2019
In the immediate aftermath of the devastating 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, filmmakers embedded with students and parents whose lives were forever changed—from quiet hours of grief and reflection to those of political awakening.
ALAN MAGEE: ART IS NOT A SOLACE
David Wright, David Berez | USA, Germany | 2019
This film explores the ways in which art can address the greatest challenges that we face as a society—social injustice and the urgency of speaking truth to power. World Premiere
Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert | USA | 2019
A deep dive into a post-industrial Ohio, where a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant and hires two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.
BY THE NAME OF TANIA
Mary Jiménez, Bénédicte Liénard | Belgium, Peru | 2019
The Amazon flows lazily through the goldmine-gashed landscape of northern Peru. Using real eyewitness accounts, directors Bénédicte Liénard and Mary Jiménez tell the story of a young woman who winds up forced into prostitution. The film reconstitutes a space of dignity and returns voice and identity to that which has been formally rendered nameless. North American Premiere
Juan Pablo González | Mexico | 2018
Members of a Mexican village slowly losing its old-fashioned lifestyle recall a young man’s death as the camera observes the setting.
Olivier Meyrou | France | 2018
Olivier Myron’s “Celebration” offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look of Yves Saint Laurent’s last few years of genius at the helm of his self-made fashion behemoth, before his exit from the house in 2002.
CHANGIN’ TIMES OF IKE WHITE
Dan Vernon | UK, USA | 2019
Released in 1974, Ike White’s Changin’ Times was an extraordinary album recorded in extraordinary circumstances. The film charts Ike’s journey from prison to his life as a free man, and a subsequent reinvention of himself as a performer for hire called David Maestro. World Premiere
Sam Ellison | USA, Mexico | 2019
Two young Haitians find themselves stranded at the US-Mexico border, searching for a way forward with no one to depend on but each other.
CIRCUS OF BOOKS
Rachel Mason | USA | 2019
How do you explain to your friends that your mom and pop run a gay pornography shop? That is just one question asked in this playful documentary about the titular LA store and its unlikely proprietors.
Alex Gibney | USA, Russia | 2019
This latest film from Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney considers the strange case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky – once believed to be the wealthiest man in Russia – who rocketed to prosperity and prominence in the 1990s, served a decade in prison, and became an unlikely martyr for the anti-Putin movement. US Premiere
EL PADRE MÉDICO
Vytautas Puidokas | Lithuania, Brazil | 2019
A Lithuanian doctor, priest and a war refugee resettles to Amazonian jungle in 1960’s and becomes a local hero. Yet, as he gets involved in a brutal crime, countless fake narratives that he had created around himself begin to resurface. World Premiere
Nikolaus Geyrhalter | Austria | 2019
Several billion tons of earth are moved annually by humans – with shovels, excavators or dynamite. Nikolaus Geyrhalter observes people, in mines, quarries and at large construction sites, engaged in a constant struggle to take possession of the planet. North American Premiere
Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts | UK, Syria | 2019
An intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war.
FORTSCHRITT IM TAL DER AHNUNGSLOSEN (PROGRESS IN THE VALLEY OF THE PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW)
Florian Kunert | Germany | 2019
Memories of the relations between the GDR and Syria return in the ruins of the former GDR-factory “Fortschritt” (Progress), when former workers and Syrian refugees meet. North American Premiere
David Hambridge | USA, Hong Kong, Kenya | 2019
A feature documentary that journeys beyond the global headlines that have accumulated around ‘Sudan,’ the last male northern white rhino in existence, and explores the painful emptiness of extinction through the eyes of Sudan’s three primary caregivers.
LA VIDA EN COMÚN
Ezequiel Yanco | Argentina, France | 2019
A puma stalks Pueblo Nación Ranquel. Hunting is a rite of passage, and the older boys want to kill it. But Uriel decides to take another path. US Premiere
Elke Margarete Lehrenkrauss | Germany | 2019
Along the dark country roads of rural Germany, prostitutes from foreign countries work in old caravans. In this uncanny world, the murder of one of the women takes place. North American Premiere
Luke Lorentzen | USA, Mexico | 2019
In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help.
Hassan Fazili | USA, UK, Canada, Qatar | 2019
When the Taliban puts a bounty on Afghan director Hassan Fazili’s head, he is forced to flee the country with his wife and two young daughters. Capturing the family’s uncertain journey firsthand, Fazili documents their harrowing trek across numerous borders revealing the danger and uncertainty facing refugees seeking asylum juxtaposed with the unbreakable love shared amongst the family on the run.
MY AUTONOMOUS NEIGHBOR
Michel Negroponte | USA | 2019
Fred “Tate ” Billings is an outsider artist, post-psychedelic philosopher and compulsive knick-knack collector who spends his waking hours creating playful work about hidden dimensions and galactic time travel to excavate personal and historical mysteries. World Premiere
Martha Shane | USA, UK | 2019
NARROWSBURG follows a French film producer and a mafioso-turned-actor as they turn a tiny town upside down, peddling Hollywood dreams and persuading the town it can become the “Sundance of the East.” World Premiere
NOTHA-YE- MESI YEK ROYA (COPPER NOTES OF A DREAM)
Reza Farahmand | Canada, Iran | 2019
Childhood and happiness are great and sacred concepts. Even war, cannot destroy these profound and holy words. North American Premiere
ONE CHILD NATION
Nanfu Wang | China | 2019
After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.
Sung-A Yoon | Belgium, France | 2019
In a learning center dedicated to the domestic work in The Philippines, several candidates prepare themselves for homesickness and for the abuses that they will possibly endure. North American Premiere
READY FOR WAR
Andrew Renzi | USA, Mexico | 2019
Andrew Renzi’s heartfelt and hard-hitting documentary sheds light on the lives of three of the estimated thousands of immigrants who volunteer for service in the American military, yet find themselves deported from the US once their tours of duty are over. US Premiere
SANKARA IS NOT DEAD
Lucie Viver | France | 2019
After Burkina Faso’s 2014 popular uprising, the young poet Bikontine decides to go meet his fellow citizens along the country’s only rail line. North American Premiere
Andrea Kalin | USA, Kenya, Australia, Honduras, Brazil, Egypt, Israel, UK, New Zealand, Philippines, France, Holland, India, Nepal | 2019
When a heartbroken mom asked the world to help honor the memory of her beloved son, the loss of one became the journey of many. World Premiere
Feras Fayyad | Syria | 2019
Director Feras Fayyad (Last Men in Aleppo) returns to his native, wartorn Syria to follow a dedicated team of female doctors tirelessly treating casualties in an underground hospital, while battling systemic sexism. US Premiere
THE GIVERNY DOCUMENT (SINGLE CHANNEL)
Ja’Tovia Gary | USA, France | 2019
Filmed on location in Harlem, USA and in Claude Monet’s historic gardens in Giverny, France, The Giverny Document is a multi-textured cinematic poem that meditates on the safety and bodily autonomy of Black women. North American Premiere
THE HOTTEST AUGUST
Brett Story | USA, Canada | 2019
Ordinary people in New York are asked to talk about their lives and their hopes for the future in a time marked by political division and climate change.
Lauren Greenfield | USA, Philippines | 2019
Acclaimed documentarian Lauren Greenfield (The Queen of Versailles) aims her lens at Filipino politician and former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who, despite disgrace, remains unbowed and enmeshed in her nation’s politics. US Premiere
Alexander A. Mora | USA, Philippines | 2019
THE SEER AND THE UNSEEN
Sara Dosa | USA, Iceland | 2019
A magic realist documentary about invisible elves, financial collapse, and the surprising power of belief told through the personal story of an Icelandic grandmother who speaks on behalf of nature under threat.
Ian Cheney | USA | 2019
In midcoast Maine, a series of scientists, artists, hunters, paragliders, and naturalists reveal the wonders of a small plot of land they have never seen before. World Premiere
VARDA BY AGNÈS
Agnès Varda | France | 2019
Agnès Varda’s new documentary sheds light on her experience as a director, bringing a personal insight to what she calls “cine-writing”.
Lesley Chilcott | USA | 2019
Co-founder of Greenpeace and founder of Sea Shepherd, Captain Paul Watson has spent 40 years fighting to end the destruction of the ocean’s wildlife and its habitat. Part pirate, part philosopher, Watson’s methods stop at nothing to protect what lies beneath.
WHERE MAN RETURNS
Egil Håskjold Larsen | Norway | 2019
A man, a dog, a cabin near the sea. Steinar, age 75, has chosen to live a life in communion with nature.
He lives in an isolated, frozen universe at the outermost point of Europe, barely one kilometer from the Norwegian-Russian border. North American Premiere
2019 Storyforms Slate
Garrett Bradley | United States | 29 mins
Rooted in New Orleans, AMERICA is a modern day silent film, challenging the idea of Black cinema as a “wave,” or “movement in time,” proposing instead a continuous thread of achievement.
The Atomic Tree
Adam Loften, Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee | United States | 10 mins
The Atomic Tree is a virtual reality journey into the memories of one of the most revered trees in the world—a 400-year-old Japanese White Pine bonsai that survived the atomic blast in Hiroshima.
Biidaaban: First Light
Lisa Jackson | Canada | 8 mins
An interactive VR project that illuminates how Indigenous languages can help us understand our place in a reconciled version of Canada’s largest urban environment
Darren Emerson | United Kingdom | 30 mins
Welcome to the Aylesbury Estate, home to thousands of Londoners, a concrete monument to the history and legacy of social housing in the UK, and a stark insight into the realities of gentrification and social cleansing.
Deniz Tortum | USA, Turkey | 13 mins
A mysterious tree watches over a forest while humans traverse its paths, planning construction zones and searching for a lost person. As civilization slowly unravels, quiet new dynamics emerge.
Home with América
Alvaro Morales | USA, Peru | 13 mins
Gladys, an undocumented immigrant, cannot visit her dying mother, América. Defying this separation, Gladys finds a way, however ephemeral, to reunite with her mother.
Nyasha Kadandara | Kenya | 10 mins
The oasis of the Sahel, Lake Chad, is not who she used to be. Ninety percent of her water is gone, leaving her feeling depleted, wary, scared and insecure.
Alex Suber | USA | 15 mins
Set in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the experience takes participants into the subterranean depths of Wind Cave and Sanford Research Lab as they unravel the cosmos from different angles. World Premiere
Stealing Ur Feelings
Noah Levenson | USA | 6 mins
Stealing Ur Feelings is an AI-powered augmented reality experience that learns your deepest secrets just by analyzing your face.
The Dynamic Range
James N. Kienitz Wilkins | USA | 22 mins
A speculative essay film, presented in a Virtual Reality version, that explores the limits of perception through advances in camera technology, and the accompanying human presumptions which fuel such advancements.
Whiteness Project – Intersection of I
Whitney Dow | Canada | 35 mins
Whiteness Project is multi-platform media project that examines both the concept of whiteness and how those who identify as “white” or partially whiteprocess their racial identity.
Traveling While Black
Roger Ross Williams, Ayesha Nadarajah (co-director) | USA | 7 mins
Confronting the way we understand and talk about race in America, this virtual reality documentary immerses the viewer in the long history of restriction of movement for black Americans and the creation of safe spaces in our communities.
Accused #2: Walter Sisulu
Gilles Porte, Nicolas Champeaux | USA | 10 mins
Transported back into a world of secret court sessions during the apartheid nightmare, discover the testimony of an exceptional man who instigated one of the turning points of 20th century history.
Dreams of the Jaguar’s Daughter
Alfredo Salazar-Caro | USA, India | 8 mins
A three-part Experimental VR Documentary where Achik’, the spirit of young Mayan immigrant, guides the viewer’s through her dreams and memories of the journey north.
Jennifer Baichwal | France | 8 mins
Follow blocks of prized Carrara marble as they are hewn from pristine peaks in Tuscany and travel down the mountainside to artisans’ studios and out into the global export economy.
Jennifer Baichwal | France | 6 mins
The hills and canyons of a massive Kenyan landfill represent an emerging microeconomy where the discarded plastic is both a commodity and a future geological marker of humanity’s time on Earth.
Anthropocene: Ivory Burn
Jennifer Baichwal | France | 6 mins
Witness the largest ivory burn in history, when over a hundred tons of confiscated elephant tusks and rhino horns were torched in Nairobi National Park to send a deeply symbolic and visceral message to poachers and illegal trade syndicates.