The Camden International Film Festival announced the award winning films from its ninth edition, which marked the end of a four-day weekend that included the screening of over 70 films from dozens of countries, as well as the 5th Points North Documentary Forum. The festival hosted over 100 filmmakers and industry leaders, with filmmakers in attendance for almost every public screening and doubled pass sales from 2012.
This year’s Harrell Award for Best Documentary Feature went to THE GENIUS OF MARIAN directed by Banker White and Anna Fitch.
THE GENIUS OF MARIAN is an intimate family portrait that explores the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s disease, the power of art and the meaning of family. THE GENIUS OF MARIAN follows Pam White in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease as her son, the filmmaker, documents her struggle to hang on to a sense of self.
“A film whose perspective is so warmly intimate, it is clearly crafted by a filmmaker whose connection is colored not only by blood ties, but by a profound sense of affection and respect. This relationship imbues the film with a nuanced and lyrical representation of woman who is deeply loved, receding from life long before her time,” Rebecca Richman Cohen shared Sunday evening on behalf of the 2013 Harrell Award Jury, which included esteemed critic John Anderson, producer and festival-veteran Nancy Schafer and filmmaker Rebecca Richman Cohen (WAR DON DON, CODE OF THE WEST).
Banker and Anna were in attendance to receive the award for their film. THE GENIUS OF MARIAN will travel the state of Maine as part of CIFF’s inaugural Engagement Summit: Aging in Maine thanks to the support of the Fledging Fund and Camden National Bank.
The Harrell Award for Best Documentary Feature Special Jury Mention went to EXPEDITION TO THE END OF THE WORLD directed by Daniel Dencik. 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. An epic journey where the brave sailors on board encounter polar bear nightmares, Stone Age playgrounds and entirely new species. The Jury noted, “With a mood and setting at once surreal and breathtakingly vivid, the film is laced with moments of unexpected humor and profound insights about the human experience. It is nothing short of a gorgeously crafted film.”
This year’s Emerging Cinematic Vision Award sponsored by Vimeo went to BENDING STEEL directed by Dave Carroll. BENDING STEEL is a moving documentary, which follows Chris Schnoeck, an endearing yet unassuming man as he trains to become a professional oldtime strongman. “The deliberation was extremely difficult because of the extraordinary quality and formal lyricism that the films all share, and we’re looking forward to seeing the next works by all of these artists. BENDING STEEL is a film that takes the viewer on a complete journey that is both surprising, satisfying and deeply human. Every frame of the film conveys the profound sense of trust between the filmmakers and their subject, which makes for an extraordinarily intimate viewing experience,” Michael Palmieri expressed on behalf of the 2013 Emerging Cinematic Vision Jury, which included filmmaker Michael Palmieri (OCTOBER COUNTY, OFF LABEL), critic Anthony Kaufman, and LEF Foundation’s Program Director Sara Archambault.
The Emerging Cinematic Vision Special Jury Mention went to LAST DREAMS by Estephan Wagner. LAST DREAMS follows three women during their last month of life. 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 Jury selected two films that stand out for their focused and empathic approach to their characters. We give a special jury mention to Estephan Wagner’s LAST DREAMS for its deeply compassionate look at the psychological and emotional journey of three women in their final moments of life,” added the Emerging Cinematic Vision Jury.
In an unprecedented turn of events, the Camden International Film Festival had two films tie for the 2013 Audience Award sponsored by Dick and Ann Costello. With higher attendance, and more votes then ever before, CIFF’s 2013 Audience Award goes to Dave Carroll’s BENDING STEEL and Jillian Schlesinger’s MAIDENTRIP. “These two films resonated in such strong and meaningful ways with the local community,” said Ben Fowlie, CIFF’s founder and executive director. “There’s nothing more gratifying then walking into a capacity filled theatre only to see attendees standing, cheering and crying. They captured the hearts of hundreds of community members and we couldn’t be happier.”
In addition to these award winning films, seven filmmakers took the stage of the Camden Opera House on Saturday, September 28 for the fourth annual Points North Pitch, part of CIFF’s growing Points North Documentary Forum that runs concurrently with the festival. The filmmakers pitched their documentary works-in-progress to a panel of funders broadcasters, distributors and producers. The 2013 Points North Pitch Award and Modulus Finishing Fund was given to Drew Xanthopoulos for THE SENSITIVES. “The curators at CIFF and the Forum do a particularly good job of finding compelling, thoughtful, cutting edge stories from new and emerging filmmakers, which is clearly reflected in this year’s outstanding winning pitch,” adds moderator Andrea Meditch (President of Black Allie Films).
The award comes with a $1000 cash prize from Documentary Educational Resources, 60 hours of sound mix or color correction services from Modulus Studios, worth approximately $10,000, a $3,000 tuition scholarship to the Maine Media Workshops and three consultations with the Tribeca Film Institute.
CIFF’s partnership with The New York Times brought filmmakers to pitch their ideas for an Op-Doc as part of Points North Documentary Forum on Sunday, September 29 at Union Hall in Rockport. The winning pitch receives the opportunity to produce an Op-Doc for The New York Times with a budget of $2,000 (USD). This year’s 2013 winner was PROJECT NODAK directed by Lewis Wilcox and James Christenson. “The public pitching forums at this years festival introduced a number of new projects to the independent documentary community,” said Ben Fowlie. “ The energy and excitement around the selected projects and the attending filmmakers added a level of depth to the festival. We couldn’t be more honored to be recognized as a platform that showcases the films of tomorrow.”