CIFF unveils VR slate, Impact program

Organizers of the Camden International Film Festival will highlight issues of gun control and the impact of climate change on the world's oceans, and feature a raft of immersive and interactive non-fiction content.
September 2, 2016

Organizers of the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF), taking place from September 15-18 in Camden, Maine, say they are significantly expanding on their commitment to using non-fiction to bring communities together, spark dialogue and affect social change this year, while highlighting the new forms of storytelling within the genre.

This year, CIFF is unveiling Storyforms, its first collection of interactive and immersive non-fiction media. Among the projects featured are VR experiences from The Guardian, the BBC and The New York Times.

Projects slated for Storyforms include: 6×9: A VR Experience of Solitary Confinement, from The Guardian and director Francesca Panetta; The Ark, from directors Kel O’Neil and Eline Jongsma; The Fight for Falluja, from The New York Times and director Ben C. Solomon; Return to Chernobyl from PBS ‘Frontline’; Easter Rising: Voice of a Rebel from the BBC and director Oscar Raby; Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn from directors Matthew Niederhauser and John Fitzgerald; The Maribor Uprisings: A Live Participatory Documentary from Maple J. Razsa; (Dis)Locate from Billy Wirasnik, Emily Ferrier and Joey Pitzo; The Argus Project from Gan Golan, Raquel de Anda, Ligaiya Romero and Julien A. Terrell; Roundware: Rockland from Halsey Burgund with audio content from Meghan Vigeant / Stories to Tell; and time-lapse LED wall (the wall can see) from Alexander Reben.

Also for the 2016 edition, screenings and events will be a part of the Points North Impact program, a rebrand of CIFF’s previous Engagement Summit. Developed in partnership with Working Films and the Fledgling Fund, Points North Impact brings filmmakers and Maine-based non-profit leaders to brainstorm strategies for using non-fiction film and media as an organizing tool.

“We believe creative non-fiction storytelling can be a powerful tool for affecting social change, said Ben Fowlie, executive director of the Points North Institute, in a statement. “Documentary films and other forms of creative non-fiction help audiences develop greater empathy and understanding of an issue, they bring together communities and they inspire action.”

Through the Points North Impact program, several CIFF 2016 films will be used to shine a light on issues like gun control and the affect of climate change on on the world’s oceans with screenings and extended panel discussions with special guests and workshops.

On September 17, the festival will screen the world premiere of Sacred Cod, a documentary film just acquired by Discovery Channel that captures the collapse of the historic cod population in New England. The screening will be followed by a panel with the filmmakers and guests who will address issues including overfishing, the impact of climate change, the effect of government policies on fishermen and fish, and the economic impact of losing cod fishing.

And on September 18, the festival will screen the award-winning film Newtown, which tells the story of the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history. It will be followed by an extended Q&A with the film’s director, Kim Snyder, subjects from the film, members of the Newtown community and special guests from across Maine. The festival’s Points North Forum will also include a panel discussion called “Building Movements with Media: Newtown Case Study,” which will investigate the collaboration between filmmakers, funders, impact strategists and movement organizers attempting to use documentary film to affect gun control.

Additionally, through a partnership with Camden-based Conservation Media Group, CIFF will also host three finalists for the CMG Action Grant, filmmakers and organizations who will pitch at the festival for the chance to get a $10,000 grant to produce a short film about either healthy oceans or renewable energy solutions. The winner will be revealed at CIFF’s Closing Night on September 18, 2016. Finalists include Doug Woodring for Global Alert – Floating Trash, Jeff Talbot for Protect the Great Bear Sea and Alex Finn for Whale Heritage Sites.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.