Points North Forum conference

Aug 29, 2017
Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest The Points North Pitch offers six teams of filmmaker Fellows the opportunity to pitch their works-in-progress to a distinguished panel of funders, broadcasters, distributors and producers.

Camden — The Points North Institute has unveiled the lineup for its ninth annual Points North Forum. The three-day conference program runs concurrently with the Camden International Film Festival — Friday through Sunday, Sept. 15 through 17 — at the Camden Opera House, High Mountain Hall and St. Thomas' Episcopal Church.

The Points North Forum has long been a top festival destination for filmmakers to find creative inspiration and professional development. Accessible workshops and panel discussions feature some of the documentary film industry’s most accomplished storytellers and influential decision makers. This year’s program takes a deep dive into the evolution of the documentary arts in the digital age and tackles the changing conditions for nonfiction storytellers in a politically charged media environment.

Moderated discussions with attending filmmakers, artists, funders and industry leaders will address vital contemporary topics including race in America, press freedom, the politics of the ubiquitous documentary camera and what’s coming up for the next generation of nonfiction virtual reality experiences.

Highlighted documentary craft panels include one on character-driven documentary with acclaimed director Steve James (“Hoop Dreams,” “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”), which will be co-presented by Maine Media Workshops; and a session exploring the creative side of archival storytelling with director Sierra Pettengill (“The Reagan Show”), editor Nels Bangerter (“Cameraperson,” “Let the Fire Burn”) and writer/curator Eric Hynes (Museum of the Moving Image). An essential discussion of press freedom for the nonfiction community will feature Carrie Lozano (IDA Enterprise Fund), Katie Townsend (Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press), Harlo Holmes (Freedom of the Press Foundation) and Sam Gregory (“Witness”).

One of the Forum’s most popular and beloved events is the Points North Pitch, which is celebrating its eighth year with a new Presenting Sponsorship from Showtime Documentary Films. The pitch is part of the year-long Points North Fellowship, providing six teams of filmmakers from around the world an opportunity to work with mentors and present their feature documentary works-in-progress to a panel of influential funders, producers and broadcasters — all before a live audience at the Camden Opera House. The panel will determine one winner of the Points North Pitch and Modulus Finishing Fund, which includes an in-kind post-production package from Boston-based Modulus Studios.

“Our programming is driven by the belief that documentary storytelling is more important now than ever before,” said Sean Flynn, PNI’s Program Director. “It’s a privilege to bring together such a diverse, talented and accomplished group of filmmakers and industry leaders in Camden for urgent and inspiring discussions about the role of the documentary artist today."

This year’s Forum expands to two new venues and features the addition of an invitation-only 1:1 Meetings program, connecting 25 additional filmmakers with works-in-progress to funders and industry representatives. Points North also is expanding its partnership with the LEF Foundation, organizing an invitation-only Sustainability Roundtable convening where funders, thought leaders and filmmakers from across New England will discuss the challenges of building a career and opportunities to collectively build a stronger documentary field.

Filmmakers, students and other Points North attendees will have numerous opportunities to connect with industry delegates throughout the festival weekend, formally during master classes and panels; and informally during CIFF parties and receptions.

The strong lineup marks the continued growth of the Points North Forum since the July 2016 launch of the Points North Institute, a parent organization for CIFF that is dedicated to serving as the launching pad for the next generation of nonfiction storytellers.

Access to the full conference program is open to all CIFF passholders. Passes are on sale online at pointsnorthinstitute.org/ciff; and day-of walk-up tickets also will be available.

The Points North Forum is made possible by the generous support of Showtime Documentary Films, National Endowment for the Arts, Maine Office of Tourism, Modulus Studios, LEF Foundation and Maine Media Workshops. A full conference schedule and list of industry delegates is available online.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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