Docs

CIFF ’17: “Taste of Cement,” “Quest” take prizes

Ziad Kalthoum’s Taste of Cement and Jonathan Olshefski‘s Quest took home Best Documentary Feature and the Audience Award, respectively, at the 2017 Camden International Film Festival. The 13th edition of the ...
September 19, 2017

Ziad Kalthoum’s Taste of Cement and Jonathan Olshefski‘s Quest took home Best Documentary Feature and the Audience Award, respectively, at the 2017 Camden International Film Festival.

The 13th edition of the Maine-based doc and shorts festival ran Sept. 14 to 17, with prizes presented at the closing night awards ceremony to four documentary features, one doc short and the Points North Pitch winner.

CIFF hosted their annual Awards Ceremony on Sunday (Sept. 17), presenting four awards for documentary features and one for a documentary short, in addition to its Points North Pitch Award.

The 2017 Harrell Award for Best Documentary Feature went to Ziad Kalthoum’s Taste of Cement (pictured), a portrait of Syrian construction workers building a skyscraper in Beirut after losing their past and their future.

A special jury mention was presented to Gustavo Salmerón’s Lots of Kids, A Monkey and a Castle, in which the Spanish actor captures the winsome eccentricities of his mother, Julita, who dreamed of having lots of kids, owning a monkey, and living in a castle.

This year’s feature doc jury was comprised of Tribeca Film Institute’s Jose Rodriguez, filmmaker Robb Moss and Fork Films’ Molly O’Brien.

The 2017 Camden International Film Festival Audience Award, meanwhile, went to Jonathan Olshefski’s Quest, chronicling the daily struggles and successes of the Raineys — an African-American family living in Philadelphia.

Martin Dicicco’s All That Passes By Through A Window That Doesn’t Open, documenting laborers constructing a new high speed train line in Azerbaijan, was awarded with the 2017 Cinematic Vision Award. Jurors Iyabo Boyd, Brett Story and James N. Kienitz Wilkins provided special mention to Drew Xanthopolous’s The Sensitives.

The third annual John Marshall Award for Contemporary Ethnographic Media went to Tala Hadid’s House in the Fields. The jury consisted of Documentary Educational Resources’ Alice Apley and Alijah Case; director Ilisa Barbash; sound artist Ernst Karel; critic Irina Leimbacher; and filmmaker Maple Razsa.

Last year, the festival became an Oscar-qualifying event for documentary shorts, making the winner of the Camden Cartel Award for Best Short eligible to enter the Documentary Short Subject competition for the Academy Awards. The award was handed out to Ben Knight’s The Last Honey Hunter, with a special jury mention to Adam and Zack Khalil’s The Violence of a Civilization without Secrets.

Earlier this month, the Points North Institute revealed its 2017 class of fellows who received US$1,000 cash grant, mentorship and acceptance into workshops.

The winner of the 2017 Points North Pitch Award, which included in-kind post-production services from Boston-based Modulus Studios, went to Hassan Fazili’s Midnight Traveler. The project was also offered an additional $10,000 by the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms.

Recognized as one of the top documentary film festivals in the world, CIFF saw a 30% rise in submissions from 2016, while attendance of filmmakers, industry and passholders was at a record high for the 2017 Festival.

The 2018 Camden International Film Festival – taking place in Camden, Rockport and Rockland, Maine – will run Sept. 13-16. Submissions will open in January 2018.

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