We had the chance to visit the fifth annual Camden International Film Festival last weekend, and are pleased to report that the four-day event went off without a hitch, but more importantly, brought a diverse selection of non-fiction cinema to some of New England's most picturesque coastal havens. Having grown exponentially in size and stature over the last few years, the CIFF looks bound to become one of the preeminent documentary festivals in America.
Expertly run by Ben Fowlie and Leah Hurley, the films, panels and events were run across the three participating towns, and an overall congeniality left this visitor with nothing but positive sentiments. Although we weren't able to see all of the films, here are a few that caught our eye:
At turns troubling and endearing, Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher's "October Country" takes an unflinching look at the hardships and demons haunting three generations of a family in New York's Mohawk Valley. Shot over the course of a year, the film bookends with beautifully executed Halloween footage that captures the flawed humanity underlying the film as a whole.
Particularly topical when screened in coastal Maine, Kirk Wolfinger's "The Rivals" pits two polar opposite Maine towns against each other through the lens of high school football. The undefeated squads from struggling mill town Rumford and upscale, coastal Cape Elizabeth battle for supremacy of Western Maine, while the filmmaker effectively chronicles the multiple dimensions of seemingly monolithic communities.
And screened the final day as a special sneak preview, Shelley Rogers' "What's Organic About Organic?" takes a different angle on one of the most debated issues in contemporary culture. Rather than focusing on organics from the consumer perspective, the film focuses on farmers, activists and scientists who delve deep into issues of sustainability and environmental impact, while warning against the burgeoning commercial giants whose dubious practices can be overshadowed by the umbrella of organics.
The festival also screened a handful of CH videos before the features. We were happy to participate and look forward to what promises to be another great festival in 2010.