2014 will be a special year for the Camden International Film Festival. January marks the start of an exciting year-long celebration of our 10th festival, and a commemoration of a decade’s worth of bringing the very best documentary films and filmmakers to Maine.
We hope you will join us in this celebration, and will consider making a year-end contribution. Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated, and tax-deductible to the extent of the law.
To contribute to CIFF, visit www.camdenfilmfest.org/support.
1. Can you talk a bit about why you two decided to focus your life and careers on making documentary films?
An overwhelming number of sociologists use documentaries to teach in their courses, yet 99% of sociology teachers do not encourage video ethnography as a legitimate research practice. I left academia to develop my interest in video ethnography and documentary. It remains a debate whether sociology as a discipline begins to recognize or value what it uses as knowledge.
2. You two have a very organic approach towards deciding what your next project is – can you talk a bit about this process, and your reasons for starting your film career with Mardi Gras: Made in China?
I made Mardi Gras Made in China to teach myself how to make a film. Afterward, I thought I’d make a ‘real’ documentary. Little did I know Mardi Gras Made in China would become so well received.
3. David, you are currently working on a novel version of the film Mardi Gras: Made in China, can you talk about out the differences creatively between the two in regards to the telling of this story?
The book of words includes a more nuanced explanation of tracing Mardi Gras beads as commodity chains, whereas the movie of images and sounds is able to experientially convey material in ways that words cannot grasp. The ‘series editors’ of the book are interested in how video ethnography can be integrated into sociology. Therefore, the book is academic and unlikely to reach the same people the movie has reached. I hope the two can work well together to bridge that gap.
4. As storytellers, can you talk a bit about some of the things you look for when you are deciding whether or not to commit to a specific story or project?
First, we’re currently interested in materiality (the ‘stuff of life’) that can’t be treated with words or spoken language. What does this material look and sound like? How does it move? Where does it go? How does it speak to the body? Second, we are interested in experiential activities of sound, movement, and image. Third, we’re interested in the ‘materiality of experience’ that leaves an impression. Last, we will likely break these layers of interest and make another movie, like Downeast or Mardi Gras Made in China, with words.
5. We’re living in what has been called a “renaissance” or another “golden age” of nonfiction cinema. Can you talk a bit about how you feel the doc landscape has changed since you two began making films? And perhaps some of the trends you are seeing.
The renaissance I’ve seen is in the technology that allows more people to make different types of documentaries. A confession, however, is that it’s difficult for me to finish watching most documentaries released in festivals, online, in theaters, etc. Maybe four to six documentaries each year, in my opinion, actually accomplish an impression. The majority of documentaries use technologies to convey words or arguments to a public – they are discursively directed and often reaffirm what an audience (and programmer) wants to hear, or what the filmmaker already believes. With the advent of new technologies, why not dare the documentary form and content? I think Tom Rosen over at the POV Blog has written a bit about your question. I admire him for asking the question, but disagree, at times, with his analysis.
6. Mardi Gras: Made in China won CIFF’s first Harrell Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2005. If you remember, can you talk a bit about your experience at the festival?
I don’t remember much of anything except fragments of lobsters and meeting Nina Davenport, Ellen Perry, a man named John, and Jake with family in Ireland. Memory works in this way for me; it is a fragmented blur of nonlinear associations. These fragments congeal to resemble a broken or reassembled map – something unlike what I probably experienced, but it’s all I can remember.
I do remembering receiving several phone calls from Ben Fowlie who relentlessly tried to convince me to attend Camden. Ben said, “Well fly you here on a private plane.” I was living in Brooklyn during this conversation and told Ben, “But why would you fly me to New Jersey? I can take the train; I live in Brooklyn.” Ben said, “No, not Camden, New Jersey, Camden, Maine!”
7. We’ve shown more of your work then any other filmmakers at CIFF, and you two have likely been to more CIFF’s then any other filmmaker, can each of you share one of your favorite memories?
Every year at Camden Film Festival is a favorite memory. This year, 2013, we left Camden and stopped to pick apples for the first time with Magnolia, our baby (three months old at the time).
8. What are the two of you working on now? Can you fill us in on any details?
We’re working on two movies: one about Donkeys and another about Silence. We have other ideas and will soon pursue them, but they involve movies without words. Enjoy the silence.
9. Any final words for potential readers who might view this film or yours (or any other for that matter) either in a theatre or online? What should a viewer expect from a Carnivalesque Film?
I think readers or viewers shouldn’t expect anything. It would delight us if viewers wanted to be surprised.
The Camden International Film Festival and The Strand Theatre celebrate the upcoming 10th edition of CIFF with 10 for 10, a monthly screening series co-presented by and held at The Strand Theatre in Rockland, Maine. Each month CIFF will bring back a highly acclaimed documentary from past festivals, or share a new film fresh from the festival circuit.
Screenings in the 10 for 10 series are held in 2013: November 20, December 11 and in 2014: January 15, February 12, March 19, April 16, May 21, June 18, July 23 and August 20. All screenings begin at 7:00 pm.
Upcoming Screenings: December 11th – 7pm
THE CHANCES OF THE WORLD CHANGING
A decade ago, after an epiphany at a New York restaurant, Richard Ogust began dedicating his time and resources to rescuing endangered turtles – confiscating hundreds bound for Southeast Asian food markets. When the filmmakers catch up with the 50-year-old writer, he is sharing his Manhattan loft with 1,200 turtles, including five species extinct in the wild. But his growing “ark” and preservation efforts are threatening to exhaust him, both mentally and financially. With luminous images and a haunting musical score, the award-winning The Chances of the World Changing documents two years in the life of a man who finds himself struggling to save hundreds of lives, including his own.
The series kicked off on November 20th with David Redmon and Ashley Sabin’s award-winning MARDI GRAS: MADE IN CHINA from the inaugural 2005 Camden International Film Festival.
Moviemaker Magazine announced the list of the coolest film festivals in the world and the Camden International Film Festival was one of five doc festivals listed! Other fests include our friends, True / False, DocNYC and Sheffield Doc/Fest.
Moviemaker stated that “with an estimated population of 4,847, CIFF is one of the best small-town festivals in the world.”
We’re honored to be recognized, and want to thank our entire staff and crew who help to make this event so damn cool each and every year. Thank you!!
In order for us to refine what we do, we need your help! If you attended CIFF this year, please take one minute to fill out this very simple audience survey. As always, we greatly appreciate your support. Click here for the 2013 CIFF Audience Survey.