This past weekend was the Camden International Film Festival in Camden, ME, and the staff of LEF New England turned out in its entirety. LEF’s Executive Director Lyda and Program Director Sara were industry delegates for the Points North Forum, and I was there to screen my short documentary Gold Party. It’s a big deal to have this high-quality, all-documentary festival in the New England region that brings in really great international and national films to screen alongside Maine- and New-England focused stories.
Betting the Farm, Cecily Pingree and Jason Mann’s about the Moo Milk collective of dairy farmers in Maine, was the 2012 opening night film. This is a LEF-funded film that marries really good filmmaking with a New England story; it’s a project we’ve been watching grow over the course of a few years and we were thrilled to be present at the sold-out Maine premiere. The farmers who are the stars of the film did the Q&A afterwards with Jason and Cecily, and I think it’s safe to say that Moo Milk gained dozens of loyal new customers/fanatics after this screening. Downeast, David Redmon and Ashley Sabin’s film about a lobster processing factory in Maine, was back in the line-up after the filmmakers presented a work-in-progress last year; Downeast received a Special Jury Mention for the Harrel Award for Best Film
I dedicated most of my time to watching new movies; highlights for me included Canicula, a quiet, beautiful film about a small town in Veracruz, Mexico by Jose Alvarez, and Colombianos, a moving story a Columbian-Swedish family dealing with addiction by Swedish filmmaker Tora Martens. I like d seeing some nice Vimeo shorts screened before features – a new addition to the program this year now that Vimeo is a CIFF sponsor.
I also managed to take part in an instructional workshop about using Zeega, the online interactive platform that’s in development at Harvard’s Metalab (which I’ve written about here before). We learned how to use Zeega and broke up into groups to practice using the online software; I don’t think that my group’s workshop project broke through any transmedia boundaries, to be honest (we were chatty), but I’m excited to put my new-found skills to use in making more Zeega projects soon.
Sara met with filmmakers at the Points North Forum in face-to-face meetings, and Lyda was a panel member and judge during the Points North Pitch. The Best Pitch Award went to Mike Attie and Meghan O’Hara’s project In Country – they presented some pretty riveting footage from this in-progress film about Vietnam War re-enactors, and like the other pitching filmmakers, generated promising opportunities for their project.
There have been tomes written about it elsewhere, but the relaxed and fun atmosphere at Camden really makes this a great festival by any standard. Festival Director Ben Fowlie, Points North Director Sean Flynn and all of the staff and volunteers (Tech Director Geoff Parker is a marvel) pull off a real feat!