GENERAL ORDERS NO. 9
Just six years into its life, the Camden International Film Festival — a four-day documentary showcase running from September 30-October 3 at venues in Camden, Rockport, and Rockland — has achieved breakout status on the crowded festival circuit. Last year, influential documentary filmmaker and gossip-blogger AJ Schnack (among other industry figures) appeared in Camden with his film Convention, came away charmed ("poised to become the top US doc showcase in the fall"), and gave CIFF a welcome kick into the upper echelons.
This weekend, with a program twice as big (30 features and plenty of shorts) and probably twice as good as '09 (or any other previous year), festival founder and director Ben Fowlie and company offer a sweeping chronicle of world conflicts, generational changes, personal stories, and genuine oddities, not to mention some cozy/boozy parties and special art installations, and post-screening appearances by nearly all participating filmmakers.
For full ticket info on this dirt-cheap weekend (VIP passes top out at $100; individual films are $8.50), see camdenfilmfest.org; for some help with your scheduling, see our recommendations, listed chronologically, below.
BUDRUS | Sep 30 @ 7 pm, Camden Opera House | What begins as a dry study of an agrarian Palestinian village threatened by an Israeli security fence encroaching on (indeed, around) its land slowly evolves into a remarkably suspenseful examination of the limits of non-violent opposition. Julia Bacha's film, and its subjects, don't flinch in the face of a group of numbed, determined Israeli border police.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF LIFE | Oct 1 @ noon, Bayview Street Cinema | Probably the best film you're likely to see at CIFF this year. Two teenagers in a Cape Town shantytown teeming with shacks, vibrancy, and crime stand accused of murder. Stefanie Brockhaus and Andy Wolf follow the boys from prison to an ancient rite of passage into manhood as they try to determine how to remain both proud and secure on unpredictable, dangerous terrain. The protagonists, sympathetic yet savvy, are magnetic.
POINTS NORTH FORUM | Oct 1-2, Rockport Opera House | An inexpensive ($25 for two days of sessions) opportunity for filmmakers looking to meet and impress the most influential funders in the industry, with discussions and a pitch session.
DAVID WANTS TO FLY | Oct 1 @ 6:30 pm, Strand Theatre | The US premiere of German David Sleveking's interesting, possibly controversial feature, which starts with the director dabbling in transcendental meditation at the behest of his idol, David Lynch, and ends in an investigation of the practice's curious financial dealings.
HEAVEN AND EARTH AND JOE DAVIS | Oct 2 @ noon, Bayview Street Cinema | A work-in-progress screening of a film by Peter Sasowsky, about a "peg-legged motorcycle mechanic" who breaks into MIT and escapes with a job, then goes on to an unusual, occasionally important career melding the arts and sciences (by, for instance, encoding poetry into DNA).
MADE-IN-MAINE SHOWCASE | Oct 2 @ noon, Farnsworth Art Museum | Short films about pinball wizards, Cuban history, a female boxer, rock sculptors, and other slices of local flavor. A handful of locally-made feature-length films (including The Eventful Life of Al Hawkes and Canvasman) are also in this year's program.