This September, the Camden International Film Festival will take place. Created by the Points North Institute, it is one of the most highly regarded annual documentary film festivals in the world.

The Camden International Film Festival, or CIFF, focuses on nonfiction storytelling and screens documentaries from the best and the brightest filmmakers all over the world. The festival screens about 80 documentary feature-length and short films each year.

The CIFF is a program of the Points North Institute, an organization centered around a passion for nonfiction storytelling. It has dedicated itself to the task of helping the careers of documentary filmmakers by promoting them to the worldwide audience.

The festival takes place in Camden and Rockport, along the picturesque coast of Maine, USA. The venues where the festival takes place the Rockport Opera House at 6 Central Street, the Strand Theatre at 345 Main Street, the Camden Opera House Auditorium at 29 Elm Street, and the Farnsworth Art Museum at 6 Museum Street in Rockland, Maine.

The Camden International Film Festival has been recently recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) as a qualifying festival for the Documentary Short Subject Award. The CIFF is also acknowledged as a qualifying festival for the Cinema Eye Honors.

This year marks the 14th edition of the Camden International Film Festival. Although the film lineup, prominent guests, and schedule of activities have not been formally announced yet, the CIFF promises to offer its usual annual events, including an opening night reception and party, the weekend “After Dark” parties, CIFF all access cocktail reception, Points North reception and forum, storyforms program, film screenings, and the closing night awards reception.

Camden International Film Festival Calls for Entries to Points North Fellowship

Visit CIFF’s official website to check the availability of the schedule of events.

History of CIFF and Points North Institute

The Camden International Film Festival is a program of the Points North Institute, a non-profit organization. The CIFF was founded in 2005 by Executive and Artistic Director Benjamin Fowlie in Camden and Rockport, Maine, USA.

The CIFF began as a small town film festival exclusive to documentary films. The festival committee found the location quite inappropriate since it quite some distance from New York and Los Angeles.

The festival has been gradually building its reputation over the last 13 years. It was able to gain the support of dedicated volunteers, loyal audience, sponsors, and established filmmakers.

In 2009, the Points North Documentary Forum, one of the main programs of the institute was first created. This is a two-day conference attended by some of the biggest names in the film industry to offer advice and tips to aspiring filmmakers.

Past forums were attended by representatives from HBO, the BBC, the New York Times, A&E, Discovery, Kickstarter, Vimeo, ZDF-Arte, the Sundance Institute, the Tribeca Institute, Harvard’s Berkman Center and MIT’s Open Doc Lab.

In 2015, the Points North Institute partnered with the Tribeca Film Institute to create the Camden/TFI Retreat. This is a program aims to recognize and develop contemporary U.S. based filmmakers. It focuses on nurturing the skills of emerging filmmakers to improve their documentary filmmaking.

The Camden International Film Festival has continuously attracted audiences from not only the local community but entire globe. It was heralded as being “among the elite of documentary fests” and is now regarded as one of the top 12 documentary festivals in the world.

Large ciff pitch nyt opdocs


The Camden International Film Festival presents the following awards and prizes to the festival winners:

Feature-Length Films

  • Harrell Award for Best Documentary Feature (Official Competition)- This is sponsored by Harrell Foundation and is awarded by a jury. The winning film gets the chance to be qualified for the Documentary Short Subject Category of the Academy Awards. The winner gets $1,000USD in cash value and other in-kind components.
  • Emerging Cinematic Vision Award- This is given to the film that exemplifies a new and creative approach to non-fiction storytelling. The winner gets $1,000USD and other in-kind services and donation.
  • John Marshall Award for Contemporary Ethnographic Media Award- This prize is named after John Marshall, a key personality in ethnographic filmmaking. The award is sponsored by the Documentary Educational Resources. The winner takes home the cash prize of $1,000USD.
  • Audience Choice Award- The prize is sponsored by Dick and Ann Costello. The winning film is chosen by the CIFF Audience and receives the cash value of $1,000USD and other in-kind components.

Short Films

  • Best Short Documentary, 1st Place- This award is sponsored by NonFiction Cartel. The winner gets the cash value of $500USD.


How to Enter Your Film

The Camden International Film Festival has partnered with FilmFreeway and Withoutabox for film submissions.

The festival accepts all kinds of documentary films regardless of style, subject, and length, and encourages projects that challenge boundaries of the documentary form.

The call for entries for the 2018 festival has closed. The deadline for submission of entries was on June 29, 2018. The chosen films will be notified on or before August 15, 2018, and will be screened in the festival.

If you are an aspiring filmmaker who wants to join the CIFF, stay tuned to their website for the date of new submissions next year. The EarlyBird Deadline would most likely begin on March 2019.

The films and videos to be submitted must have English commentary and/or dialogue, or the original version of the film must have English subtitles.

The filmmaker is accountable for all shipping costs and other costs involved in the shipping of submission materials to the festival office, including insurance.

For a complete list of rules and regulations, and to enter your films, you can visit the official websites of FilmFreeway and Withoutabox.

For all other questions concerning film submissions, you can send an email to the Programming Team at

For all other information regarding the Festival, you can head to the Official Website at

The Camden International Film Festival will run from September 13, 2018, to September 16, 2018.


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