The Camden Opera House Credit: Gabor Degre

The Camden International Film Festival kicks off Thursday, offering a long weekend of documentary films. For the first time, more than half the festival’s selected documentaries are either directed or co-directed by women.

“Programming at [gender] parity celebrates the contributions of the many formidable women in the field, while also emphasizing the fact that in a century of documentary filmmaking, we’ve largely known one dominant perspective,” Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) senior programmer Samara Chadwick said in a release.

This is the 14th year that the Points North Institute, a Camden-based media arts organization, has put on the film festival, which features only documentary and nonfiction films.

The festival opens Thursday with feature film screenings at the Camden and Rockport opera houses. Through Sunday — at venues in Camden, Rockport and Rockland — 37 feature films, 43 short films, one episodic series, and 20 virtual and augmented reality screenings will be shown. The films presented represent more than 30 countries of origin.

Having gender parity among directors and co-directors of the festival’s films was an “organic” process, a representative of the festival said. Having a large portion of the films being made by women is representative of the number of “quality” films women are producing.

“Documentary film is representing the world today, and traditionally, there has been one very prominent perspective, not just in documentaries but in all media,” the representative said. “That is a very narrow perspective that we get as audience members.”

The Points North Forum runs concurrently with the film festival and features a number of masterclasses and panels on the topic of storytelling and filmmaking.The representative said this year a major theme of the forum is documentary film in a “post fact” era.

With gender equality and truth being themes running not only through this year’s festival, but also through American social and political discourse, the representative said CIFF is highlighting what documentary filmmakers have always done — take the pulse of the world in which they live.

“Documentary filmmakers are taking the temperature of the world, and so what they are producing is going to feed into the conversations that are going on,” the representative said. “A lot of this is very organic and coming out of the moment that we’re in.”

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