Banker White and Anna Fitch took home the top award, the Harrell Award for Best Documentary Feauture, at this weekend’s ninth annual Camden International Film Festival for “Marian,” their film about White’s mother Pam as she enters the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Said jury member Rebecca Richman Cohen (“Code of the West,” “War Don Don”), “A film whose perspective is so warmly intimate, [‘Marian’] 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 a woman who is deeply loved, receding from life long before her time.”
Danish filmmaker Daniel Dencik’s “Expedition to the End of the World,” which follows a motley crew of scientists and artists as they exchange ideas on the purpose of life and the pursuit of knowledge and inspiration in Northeast Greenland, took home the Special Jury Mention in the Best Doc Feature competition.
The festival’s Emerging Cinematic Vision Award went to “Bending Steel,” Dave Carroll’s film about the strongman Chris Schnoeck. Said juror Michael Palmieri (“October Country,” “Off-Label”), “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.” A Emerging Cinematic Vision Special Jury Mention went to Estephan Wagner’s “Last Dreams,” which follows three women as they near the end of their lives.
The festival’s second annual Audience Award was a tie, going to “Bending Steel” and Jillian Schlesinger’s “Maidentrip,” about a young girl’s quest to circumnavigate the world in a sailboat.
The festival’s Points North Documentary Forum hosted its annual pitch contest for works-in-progress, and this year’s award went to Drew Xanthopoulos for “The Sensitives,” about people with a condition sometimes called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or Environmental Illness, but which has no agreed-upon treatment. According to the festival, “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.”
North America’s first-ever New York Times Op-Docs pitch took place at Camden and the jury of Op-Docs Staff and Richman Cohen commissioned a short film from “Project Nodak” filmmakers Lewis Wilcox and James Christenson, for their film about a North Dakota boom town.