A great documentary doesn’t necessarily have to be stranger than fiction, it just has to be more engaging. From substance abuse in Stockholm to World Latin Dance Champion Slavik Kryklyvyy’s story in “Ballroom Dancer,” this year’s Camden International Film Festival selections certainly meet that criteria.
The film festival, in its eighth year, has become a premier destination for documentary filmmakers, on a local and national scale, as well as fans of the craft. This year, the festival runs Sept. 27-30 and will screen nearly 70 films, with a few more shorts and a few more features than last year. The most significant change, however, is in CIFF’s Points North Forum, an educational resource where filmmakers have the opportunity to learn from industry professionals and even find distribution and sponsorship for their projects.
The Points North Forum has grown from last year, bringing in 30 delegates, up from about 20 last year. But the crown jewel of the forum, according to Ben Fowlie, CIFF founder and director, is the Points North Pitch, where eight filmmakers have the opportunity to pitch their projects to 12 delegates, who either have money to back the projects or are broadcasters.
“There’s a very real possibility that these projects that aren’t on anyone’s radar at this point could gain some recognition and some funding,” Fowlie said. “This year, I think that the quality of the work is outstanding. I think the projects are diverse, unique and exciting.”
In the past, this portion of the Points North Forum has been limited to New England filmmakers, but this year has been opened up to others outside the region.
“We’re excited knowing that the event is at such a level that people from Seattle, San Francisco, New York, will spend money and time to come up here,” Fowlie said, noting that the festival is still committed to its roots, and that half of the pitches come from New England.
Outside of Points North, the festival will bring in filmmakers from all over the world, with three from Mexico, including Jose Alvarez with his film “Canicula,” and Everardo Gonzalez with “Drought,” both of which Fowlie said feature “some of the most beautifully composed cinematic shots I’ve seen from any filmmaker as of late.”
Also, visiting from Sweden will be Tora Martens, whose film “Colombianos” will be screened 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28. The documentary examines the life of Fernando, who struggles with substance abuse, and the toll it takes on his mother, Olga, and brother, Pablo, who try to help him fight his dependency. “The intimacy and the access [of 'Colombianos'] is just unparalleled,” said Fowlie. “You couldn’t script a better story, truthfully.”
The festival kicks off Thursday with a screening of “Betting the Farm,” a much-talked-about film that hits close to home, following Maine dairy farmers at risk of losing their livelihood as they launch their own milk company. CIFF closes on Sunday with “Chasing Ice,” a film Fowlie describes as “the most beautifully terrifying thing you’ll ever see on the big screen.”
There are also three secret screenings included in this year’s schedule, and although Fowlie couldn’t divulge much information about them, they will undoubtedly leave audiences talking.
General admission tickets are $8.50, and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis 15 minutes prior to each screening at the appropriate venue. To guarantee your spot at screenings, you can purchase a pass.
Passes may be purchased online through Sept. 29 and can be picked up at the CIFF box office starting at noon Wednesday, Sept. 26. VIP festival passes are $150 and general passes are $75. For more information or the complete schedule for CIFF, visit camdenfilmfest.org.