The sixth annual Camden International Film Festival will run Thursday evening, Sept. 30, through Sunday evening, Oct. 3. According to many in the industry, the festival, founded and directed by Midcoast native Ben Fowlie, really caught fire last year. In December, blogger and filmmaker A.J. Schnack named it one of the top 25 festivals for non-fiction film.

Forty-six films, both features and short subjects, were selected from more than 300 submissions for the Camden IFF, as CIFF is marketing itself to the wider world this days so as to differentiate itself from the many international film festivals that start with “C” (including Cannes). Fowlie termed this year’s lineup the fest’s most ambitious program to date.

There are a number of international films making their first appearances in the United States, along with several of the most award-winning films from this year’s festival circuit, set to screen. As always, there also are a number of regional premieres, and nearly every film will be accompanied by a post-screening Q&A with directors or producers.

Back and expanded for its second year is the Points North Forum, an opportunity for the New England non-fiction production community to connect with key industry decision makers through panels, structured networking sessions, receptions and informal gatherings. Top media executives from Europe and the United States will attend Points North Friday and Saturday at Rockport Opera House.

To whet the festival-going appetite Wednesday night, Sept. 29, downtown Rockland gallery Asymmetrick Arts will host an opening reception for “Panoptic,” a new media show, with a live multi-media performance by Maile Colbert beginning at 6 p.m. Camden IFF proper will open Thursday at the downtown Camden Opera House. The 2009 feature “Budrus,” a product of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel and the United States, will be screened at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A with director Julia Bacha. Those with VIP passes can bookend the film with the 5:30 p.m. opening reception at the opera house and the 9:30 p.m. opening night party at Brevetto’s.

The full days of screenings begin Friday with films from noon on at Camden’s revived-for-CIFF Bayview Street Cinema and, beginning 6:30 p.m., Rockland’s Strand Theatre. The day ends with a late-night VIP pass party aboard Rockland’s M/V Monhegan. Both Saturday and Sunday begin 10:30 a.m. with Shorts For Brunch programs at Bayview Street Cinema, followed by screenings at Bayview, the Strand and Rockland’s Farnsworth Art Museum, the latter the site of the popular Made-In-Maine Showcases as well as film shorts from the Bucksport-based Northeast Historic Film Archives.

In addition to the screenings and the conclusion of the Points North Forum, the weekend will feature a “Panoptic” gallery talk and panel discussion with the Maine Arts Commission’s Kirsten Gilg, University of Maine’s Owen Smith and artists Maile Colbert and Jonathan Laurence 4 p.m. Saturday at Rockland’s Asymmetrick Arts; a VIP cocktail party 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Rockland’s Dowling Walsh Gallery; a late Saturday VIP party at a location to be announced; and Sunday’s 5 p.m. closing night reception and award ceremony and 7 p.m. sneak preview of a yet-to-be-titled film at Lincolnville’s Cellardoor Winery and Vineyard.

The historical footage from NHF will feature local sights, and there also are a couple of films with Midcoast connections. Local filmmaker Dana Rae Warren and Moody Mountain Media tell the inspiring story of the Rachmaninoff Choir, comprised of the Bowdoin College Chorus and the Midcoast’s Down East Singers, in “Alleluia Junction: A Community Choir Journeys From Maine to Russia.” The one-hour film is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Farnsworth. And “A Road Not Taken” will be screened 1:30 p.m. Sunday along with another short, “Sun Come Up,” both sponsored by Unity College and presented at the Strand.

Thursday, Sept. 30

Camden Opera House

7 p.m. “Budrus,” 82 minutes

Friday, Oct. 1

Bayview Street Cinema

Noon “The Other Side of Life,” 88 minutes

2 p.m. “My Perestroika,” 88 minutes

4 p.m. “La Belle Visite (Journey’s End),” 80 minutes

6 p.m. “Tankograd,” 58 minutes 8 p.m. “Dreamland,” 89 minutes

Strand Theatre

6:30 p.m. “David Wants to Fly,” 97 minutes

8:30 p.m. “The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan,” 77 minutes

Saturday, Oct. 2

Bayview Street Cinema

10:30 a.m. Shorts for Brunch, program 1 Noon “Heaven and Earth and Joe Davis,” work in progress

2 p.m. “War Don Don,” 83 minutes

4 p.m. “Circo,” 75 minutes 7 p.m. “Goodnight Nobody,” 77 minutes

8:30 p.m. “Do It Again,” 85 minutes

Farnsworth Art Museum

Noon Made in Maine Showcase: NHF present portraits of Millinocket, Rockland and Portland, 65 minutes

1:30 p.m. Made in Maine Showcase: “Alleluia Junction,” 62 minutes

3 p.m. Made in Maine Showcase: “Bearwalker of the Northwoods,” 60 minutes

Strand Theatre

2 p.m. “Cape Wind,” work in progress, 67 minutes

4 p.m. “General Orders No. 9,” 72 minutes

6:30 p.m. “On Coal River,” 81 minutes 8:30 p.m. “Marwencol,” 82 minutes

Sunday, Oct. 3

Bayview Street Cinema

10:30 a.m. Shorts for Brunch, program 2 Noon “Waste Land,” 89 minutes

2 p.m. “Summer Pasture,” 85 minutes

4 p.m. “Family Affair,” 80 minutes

Farnsworth Art Museum

Noon Collection of Maine Shorts program

2 p.m. “The Eventful Life of Al Hawkes,” 47 minutes

3:30 p.m. “Canvasman: The Robbie Ellis Story,” 53 minutes

Strand Theatre

12:30 p.m. “Sun Come Up,” 38 minutes; and “A Road Not Taken,” 66 minutes

2:30 p.m. “Greetings From The Woods,” 75 minutes

4 p.m. “Prodigal Sons,” 86 minutes

Cellardoor Winery and Vineyard

5 p.m. Closing night reception and awards ceremony

7 p.m. Untitled film about light pollution and the disappearing dark, work in progress

Unity College does more than sponsor “A Road Not Taken”; the Waldo County college plays an integral role in this first film by Swiss multimedia artists Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller. Their first film prompted their first visit to Maine as well.

“We both stayed some time in New York City — as all (Swiss) artists do. I guess Maine wasn’t even present in our minds. But it was wonderful to go there. At the beginning of October, some aspects are similar to Switzerland — you just have a lot more space,” said Keller by e-mail a day before departing Zurich for a film festival in Costa Rica.

“A Road Not Taken” tells the story of the solar panels former President Jimmy Carter had installed on the roof of the White House. His successor, Ronald Reagan, had the panels removed as part of a radical alienation from Carter’s energy program. Thirty years later, the two filmmakers tracked the panels down to their current installation at Unity College.

The pair considers themselves visual artists but work in a range of media, as evidenced by their 2006 “Postpetrolism,” a multimedia happening in Zurich.

“We’re interested in the question how energy and culture interferes, so we did a manifesto in 2006 about an art age after the oil and weaved in some arguments that the way we use energy always had a major impact on our culture and the other way round,” said Keller.

During their research, Hemauer and Keller learned about Carter’s solar installation during the 1979 oil crisis and its removal in 1986, when oil prices were down again. They started  with the idea of an art project and had a solo show about the subject in 2007, figuring that inviting Jimmy Carter to the opening might be a chance for an interview.

As for the Unity College connection, Keller said they discovered it via Google.

“There was an outdated Web site of the Unity College, where they stated that they would auction some of the panels to find money to buy a new solar installation on the cafeteria,” said Keller.

“Actually, that was very important for us because we thought, wow – we can do something with them! So we contacted the college — Mick Womersley — and started to plan the trip together,” Keller said.

The filmmakers said they found professor Womersley and the college very supportive. They ended up making four trips to Unity, which they had not expected to be “that small.” They were intrigued by the college’s Vietnam-era origins and by “the different waves of back-to-landers and all the thinking that came with them. And also, we found the Quaker village names — Unity, Freedom, Liberty — very nice,” said Keller.

The small-town atmosphere proved a boon when it came to gathering material for the film.

“We think it wouldn’t have been easy to get so many interesting people for an interview in such a short period of time here in Switzerland. People [here] would ask a lot of questions before agreeing for an interview … 2006 was during the end of the Bush era; everybody wanted to talk,” said Keller.

For first-time filmmakers, Hemauer and Keller have garnered some impressive kudos. “A Road Not Taken” was selected as the best cinema film in Switzerland by the Swiss National Networks and was screened in about 20 cinemas. It also has been selected for a number of festivals. It was a small movie project, however, and did not get funding and support from the country’s film industry.

“So, more people have heard about the movie than have seen it. That’s why we work hard on the DVD/book release at the moment. We hope it will be out in November,” said Keller, adding, “as far as we know, this is not the way films are normally produced.”

For more information on Hemauer’s and Keller’s work, visit roadnottaken.info.

Festival passes may be purchased online through Oct. 1 at camdenfilmfest.org as well as at the Strand Theatre’s box office. They can be picked up at the CIFF Box Office in Camden’s Washington Street Conference Room starting on Wednesday, Sept. 29 at noon. Passes for the two-day Points North Forum are $25, $15 for a day pass. Film festival passes are $100 for a VIP Pass, which grants entry to all festival events plus priority queuing; and $65 for a Film Pass, for all screenings with priority queuing. Individual screening admission is $8.50 and may be purchased at venues as available prior to show time.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.