Camden International Film Festival

CIFF film selections announced

Sep 15, 2013
“The Genius of Marian” is part of this year’s Camden International Film Festival’s Engagement Summit focus on aging.

The Camden International Film Festival has announced its slate of feature and short films. CIFF will run Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 26 through 29, at venues in Camden, Rockport and Rockland. More than 65 features and short films from all across the globe, as well as from Maine, will be screened.

Now in its ninth year, the Camden International Film Festival presents a snapshot of the cultural landscape through the year’s best non-fiction storytelling. CIFF is recognized as one of the top 25 documentary film festivals in the world; and one of the 12 best small-town film festivals in the United States. In addition to the festival’s inaugural Engagement Summit: Aging in Maine and new partnership with The New York Times to bring the Op-Docs live pitch to North America, the 2013 CIFF will include two new grant-funded programs and a panel on the all-too-timely topic of Internet privacy.

"This year’s festival program is extremely diverse, showing the range of artistry and craftsmanship behind documentary filmmaking from both emerging and established artists," said Ben Fowlie, founder and executive director of the festival.

CIFF will introduce two new programs, thanks to a grant from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Then and Now pairs classic documentary films and filmmakers with new, visionary work from emerging non-fiction filmmakers. This program celebrates the current state of the documentary form by honoring its exceptional past and affirming its connections to the future. CIFF also will present Process, a curated program of documentaries from the past and present focusing on artists, their work and the creative process.

Following a screening of the feature documentary “Terms and Conditions May Vary,” CIFF will host an extended panel discussion with some of the nation's leading thinkers and activists on the issue of Internet privacy including corporate data collection, government surveillance and what Internet users can do to achieve greater control over their personal data. Panelists will include Ben Wizner (ACLU), Shahid Buttar (Bill of Rights Defense Committee) and Amie Stepanovich (Electronic Privacy Information Center).

"One of the themes running through this year's festival and forum is the power of documentary storytelling to generate public dialogue about the social issues that matter most … We believe Internet privacy and security is one of the most critical issues facing our society today — for both media makers and the general public," said panel organizer and Points North Director Sean Flynn.

Following are brief synopses of the 2013 Camden International Film Festival Selections for feature film screenings.

“The Act of Killing” (2012, Denmark/Indonesia), directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn and Anonymous. In a country where killers are celebrated as heroes, filmmakers challenge unrepentant deathsquad leaders to dramatize their roles in genocide. The hallucinatory result is a cinematic fever dream, an unsettling journey deep into the imaginations of mass-murderers and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit.

“Bending Steel” (2013, USA), directed by Dave Carroll. This moving documentary follows Chris Schoeck, an endearing yet unassuming man, as he trains to become a professional old-time strongman. While preparing to perform incredible feats of strength publicly, Chris privately struggles to overcome crippling fears and inhibitions. For the first time in his life he is compelled to confront his own social awkwardness, unsupportive parents and an overwhelming fear of failure. What unfolds is one man’s inspirational quest to find his place in the world.

“Big Men” (2013, USA), directed by Rachel Boynton. In Ghana, a small American energy company fights to hold onto its discovery of oil just as a new government comes into power. With unprecedented access and an unflinching eye, “Big Men” takes us deep into the African oil industry in Ghana and Nigeria, delivering an exposé on the ambition, greed and corruption that threaten to exacerbate Africa’s resource curse and leave more of its citizens behind.

“Caucus” (2013, USA), directed by AJ Schnack, tells the story of the 2011-2012 campaign in Iowa as eight Republicans fight to become their party’s standard-bearer and take on Barack Obama. But to win, each must first navigate state fairs, town hall meetings and agitated questions from the increasingly contentious GOP base. This revealing look at the difficulty of running for office, particularly the presidency, features private, human moments of very public figures.

“Crash Reel” (2013, USA), directed by Lucy Walker. Snowboard legend Kevin Pearce crashed on a Park City half-pipe and ended up fighting for his life. Now all Kevin wants to do is get on his snowboard again, even though medics and family fear it could kill him.

“Cutie and The Boxer” (2012, USA), directed by Zachary Heinzerling, is the 2013 CIFF’s Opening Night Film and part of Process. A reflection on love, sacrifice and the creative spirit, this candid New York tale explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and artist Noriko Shinohara.

“Darwin’s Nightmare” (2004, France/Austria/Belgium), directed by Hubert Sauper, is part of Then and Now and offers a tale about humans between the North and South, about globalization and about fish. Sometime in the 1960s, in the heart of Africa, a new animal was introduced into Lake Victoria: the Nile Perch, a voracious predator that extinguished almost the entire stock of the native fish species. However, the new fish multiplied so fast, that its white fillets are today exported all around the world. A booming multinational industry of fish and weapons has created an ungodly globalized alliance on the shores of the world’s biggest tropical lake.

“Elena” (2013, Brazil), directed by Petra Costa. A young Brazilian woman travels to New York with the same dream as her mother, to become a movie actress, leaving behind a childhood spent in hiding during the years of the military dictatorship. She also leaves Petra, her 7-year-old sister. Two decades later, Petra becomes an actress and goes to New York in search of Elena, with only a few clues to guide her. Gradually, the features of the two sisters are confused and when Petra finally finds Elena, she has to learn to let her go.

“Expedition to the End of the World” (2013, Denmark/Sweden), directed by Daniel Dencik. A grand, adventurous journey of discovery to the last uncharted areas of the globe. On a three-mast schooner packed with artists, scientists and ambitions worthy of Noah or Columbus, we set off for the end of the world: the rapidly melting massifs of North-East Greenland. Curiosity, grand pathos and a liberating dose of humor come together in a superbly orchestrated film where one iconic image after the other seduces us far beyond the historical footnote that is humanity.

“The Genius of Marian” (2013, USA), directed by Banker White and Anna Fitch, is a visually rich, emotionally complex story that follows Pam White in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease as her son, the filmmaker, documents her struggles to retain a sense of self.

“Harlan County U.S.A.” (1977, USA), directed by Barbara Kopple, is screened as part of Then and Now. The Oscar-winning documentary film covers the Brookside Strike, an effort of 180 coal miners and their wives against the Eastover Coal Company’s Brookside Mine and Prep Plant in Harlan County, southeast Kentucky, in 1973.

“Hearts and Minds” (1974, USA), directed by Peter Davis, is an Oscar-winning documentary that unflinchingly confronts the United States’ involvement in Vietnam. Using a wealth of sources, from interviews to newsreels to documentary footage of the conflict at home and abroad, Davis constructs a powerfully affecting portrait of the disastrous effects of war. Part of Then and Now.

“The Kill Team” (2013, USA), directed by Dan Krauss, looks at the devastating moral tensions that tear at soldiers’ psyches through the lens of one highly personal and emotional story. Specialist Adam Winfield was a 21-year-old infantryman in Afghanistan when he attempted to alert the military to heinous war crimes his platoon was committing. An intimate look at the personal stories so often lost inside the larger coverage of the longest war in U.S. history.

“Last Dream (Sidste Drømme)” (2013, Denmark), directed by Estephan Wagner, follows three women during their last month of life. The film explores their relationship with doctors, nurses, priests and family members, and through them we get an intimate and honest picture of what it means to be close to death — stories of solitude, reconciliation and love during the process of saying goodbye.

“The Last Station (El Estacion Ultima)” (2012, Chile/Germany), directed by Cristian Soto and Catalina Vergara. Under the competitive look of a camera, the life and moments some old people face in their last stage are portrayed in an atmosphere of solitude and abandonment. These homes, and their long lasting passage of time, are the last station in life before setting out on the inevitable journey to death.

“Maidentrip” (2013, USA), directed by Jillian Schlesinger, follows 14-year-old Laura Dekker as she sets out, camera in hand, on a two-year voyage in pursuit of her dream to be the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone. In the wake of a year-long battle with Dutch authorities and global media scrutiny, Laura finds herself far from land and family, exploring the world in search of freedom, adventure and distant dreams of her early youth at sea.

“Moon Rider” (2013, Denmark), directed by Daniel Dencik, is a coming-of-age story about bike rider Rasmus Quaade. The film follows young Rasmus’ struggle to become a professional rider, a rough and winding road through hell and back.

“My Architect” (2003, USA), directed by Nathaniel Kahn, is part of Process. World-famous architect Louis Kahn had two illegitimate children with two different women outside of his marriage. Son Nathaniel always hoped that someday his father would come and live with him and his mother, but Kahn never left his wife and died when Nathaniel was only 11. The filmmaker travels the world visiting his father's buildings and haunts, meeting his father's contemporaries, colleagues, students, wives, and children.

“Narco Cultura” (2013, USA), directed by  war photographer Shaul Schwarz, is an explosive look at the drug cartels’ pop culture influence on both sides of the border as experienced by an LA narcocorrido singer dreaming of stardom and a Juarez crime scene investigator on the front line of Mexico’s Drug War.

“Night Labor” (2013, Canada/USA), directed by CIFF regulars David Redmon and Ashley Sabin. Sherman lives in a remote and unknown place: by day, he digs for clams; by night, he works alone in a factory that we find hard to imagine is ever empty. A moment, as commonplace as it is lyrical and mysterious, unfolds through a combination of the powerful image and sound, minimal use of narration and a personality with exceptional traits.

“Our Nixon” (2013, USA), directed by Penny Lane, is an all-archival documentary presenting home movies for the first time from White House aides H.R Halderman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin. Along with other rare footage seized by the FBI during the Watergate investigation, the film creates an intimate and complex portrait of the Nixon presidency as never seen before.

“Pablo’s Winter (El Invierno de Pablo)” (2012, Spain/UK), directed by Chico Pereira. Set in Almadén, Spain, the home of the most productive mercury mines in the world's history, this film tells the story of Pablo, a retired 70-year-old miner who is trying to stop smoking. With the mines closing 15 years ago, the film is a profound reflection on past and present, the traditional and the new.

“Pandora’s Promise” (2013, USA), directed by Robert Stine, is CIFF’s Closing Night Film. The atomic bomb and meltdowns such as Fukushima have made nuclear power synonymous with global disaster. But what if the one technology we fear most could save our planet from a climate catastrophe, while providing the energy needed to lift billions of people in the developing world out of poverty?

“Public Hearing” (2012, USA), directed by James N. Kienitz Wilkins, is the verbatim re-performance of a rural American town meeting from a transcript downloaded as public information. Shot entirely in cinematic close-up on black-and-white 16mm film, a cast of actors and non-actors read between the lines in an ironic debate over the replacement of an existing Wal-Mart with a Super Wal-Mart.

“Remote Area Medical” (2013, USA), directed by Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman. Over three days in April 2012, Remote Area Medical, the pioneers of “no-cost” health care clinics, treated nearly 2000 patients on the infield of Bristol, Tenn.’s massive NASCAR speedway.

“Running From Crazy” (2013, USA), directed by Barbara Kopple, examines the personal journey of model and actress Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, as she strives for a greater understanding of her family’s history of suicide and mental illness. Through stunning archival footage of the three Hemingway sisters and intimate verite moments with Mariel herself, the film examines the remarkable though often heartbreaking Hemingway legacy.

“See” (2013, USA), directed by Bo Bartlett, Betsy Eby and Glenn Holsten. Artists Bartlett and Eby set off to make a film about seeing, traveling the country stumbling upon art sites, characters and luminaries. But then the unexpected happens, sending their adventure into unforeseen territory. A moving meditation, “See,” part of Process, delivers the beauty of America through the eyes of artists determined to see art in the everyday.

“Suitcase of Love and Shame” (2013, USA), directed by Jane Gillooly, is a tender, erotic and pathetic reconstructed narrative that examines the obsession to chronicle the details of an adulterous affair. The film is a mesmerizing collage woven from 60 hours of reel-to-reel audiotape discovered in a suitcase purchased on eBay.

“Terms and Conditions May Apply” (2013, USA), directed by Cullen Hoback, is a documentary that shows the outrageous and downright scary things that happen when you click “I Agree.” The Internet privacy panel discussion follows this screening.

“These Birds Walk” (2012, USA/Pakistan), directed by Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq. Filmed over nearly three years, this portrait of contemporary Pakistan is created through the eyes of an ambulance driver and a runaway boy who call a humanitarian and his mission based organization home.

“To the Wolf (Sto Lyko)” (2013, Greece/France/United Kingdom), directed by Aran Hughes and Christina Koutsospyrou. Set over four days of unrelenting wind and rain in a remote village high up in the Nafpaktia mountains in western Greece, the film follows the lives of two shepherd families struggling for survival at a time of deep national crisis.

“Town Hall” (2013, USA), directed by Sierra Pettengill and Jamila Wignot. An inside look into the lives of two Tea Party activists from Pennsylvania as they fight to preserve their vision of America is more a tone poem than a political treatise, painting a portrait of those who fear being left behind by a nation's transition.

“A Will for the Woods” (2013, USA), directed by Amy Browne, Jeremy Kaplan, Tony Hale and Brian Wilson. Psychiatrist and musician Clark advocates for natural burial, and plans his own, while battling lymphoma. Capturing the genesis of a revolutionary social and environmental movement, this film is a life-affirming portrait of people coming to terms with death by embracing its central place in nature.

“William and The Windmill” (2013, USA), directed by Ben Nabors, is a feature-length documentary about William Kamkwamba, a young Malawian who rescued his family from famine by building a power-generating windmill from scrap parts. His achievement leads to new opportunities and complex choices.

Short Film Selections

CIFF also will screen a number of short films, some in the popular free Shorts programs at the Bayview Street Cinema and others in conjunction with feature films in evening screenings or at the Farnsworth. Selected for the 2013 festival are “Art Is …” (1974, USA), directed by DeWitt Sage; “A Story for the Modlins (2012, Spain), directed by Sergio Oksman; “Bradley Manning Had Secrets” (2011, USA), directed by Adam Butcher; “Breakfast” (2013, USA), directed by Wes Sterrs; “Brendan O’Connell is Blocking the Bread Aisle” (2013, USA), directed by Julien Lasseur; “Catnip Egress to Oblivion” (2012, USA), directed by Jason Willis; “Choreography” (2013, USA), directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin; “Constraint” (2013, USA), directed by Eric Gulliver; “Corn Mother,” (2012, USA), directed by Taylor Dunne; “The County” (2013, USA), directed by Chris Giamo, Kelsey Kobik and Michael Ferry; “Da Vinci” (2012, Italy), directed by Yuri Ancarani; “Flo” (2013, USA), directed by Riley Hooper; “Gowanus Canal” (2013, USA), directed by Sarah Christman; “Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven (Morfar och Jag & Helikoptern till Himmeln)” (2013, Sweden), directed by Johan Palmgren and Åsa Blanck; “Greg Packer: Most Quoted Man in America” (2013, USA), directed by Andrew David Watson; “The Horsemen” (2013, UK), directed by Glen Milner; “Joseph Fiore — The Nature of the Artist” (2013, USA), directed by Richard Kane; “Magnetic Connection” (2012, Canada), directed by Kyle Armstrong; “Niagara’s Fury” (2012, Canada), directed by Benjamin R. Taylor; “Nile Perch” (2013, USA), directed by Josh Gibson; “Notes on Blindness: Rainfall” (2013, UK/Australia), directed by Peter Middleton and James Spinney; “Oh Holy Cow (Ô Divin Bovin) (2013, Canada/France), directed by Alexandre Rufin; “Reviving the Freedom Mill” (2013, USA), directed by David Conover; “Rougarouging” (2013, USA), directed by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher; “Skiningrove” (2012, USA), directed by Michael Almereyda; “Slomo” (2013, USA), directed by Josh Izenberg; “The Sea [is Still] Around Us” (2012, USA), directed by Hope Tucker; “We Will Live Again” (2013, USA), directed by Myles Kane and Josh Koury; “When the Song Dies” (2012, Scotland), directed by Jamie Chambers; “When the Zombies Come” (2012, USA), directed by Jon Hurst; “Wolf Mountain” (2012, USA), directed by Dan Duran, Brendan Nahmias and Sam Price-Waldman; and “World Fair” (2013, USA), directed by Amanda Murray.

For more information on each film, as well as festival passes and other ticket information, visit camdenfilmfest.org.

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Dagney C. Ernest
A&E editor for Courier Publications, LLC
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Dagney has been providing Courier coverage of the local arts scene since 1985 and has helmed the multi-paper A&E section since it debuted in 2003. She has been a local performing artist, community and professional, for 30 years and spent a decade writing, producing and announcing on-air for several Midcoast radio stations. When not in the NewsNest, Dagney likes to be in motion.

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