A still from Alexander A. Mora’s “The Nightcrawlers,” an undercover look into the Duterte regime’s brutal war on drugs in the Philippines
A still from Alexander A. Mora’s “The Nightcrawlers,” an undercover look into the Duterte regime’s brutal war on drugs in the Philippines
The 15th edition of the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) will take place September 12 to 15 throughout Camden, Rockport and Rockland. Screening venues include Camden Opera House, Rockport Opera House, the Strand Theatre and Farnsworth Art Museum. Festival passes and a complete festival lineup can be found on the Points North Institute website, pointsnorthinstitute.org.

A program of the Points North Institute, CIFF is one of the top documentary film festivals in the world. This year the festival will present 38 features, 51 short films, and 17 virtual reality and immersive experiences from more than 35 countries. More than half of the feature films are presented as major premieres, including the U.S. premiere of Alex Gibney’s “Citizen K.”

The festival’s 2019 edition aims to advance industry-wide conversations about story and power — examining the ways in which power structures deeply embedded in society have continued to shape the documentary field, including which stories are told, by whom, and for whom.

“Our 2019 slate celebrates documentary as a reimagining of the ways we engage with stories from both near and far,” Ben Fowlie, executive and artistic director of the Points North Institute and founder of the Camden International Film Festival, said through a press release. “As programmers, we have been transformed by these films. They take us beyond the headlines and into the hearts of people and their stories, while also engaging us with the creative, political, and ethical decisions that went into these unforgettable films.”

CIFF will present eight world premieres by award-winning filmmakers, including BAFTA winner Dan Vernon’s “Changin’ Times of Ike White,” Martha Shane’s “Narrowsburg,” Vytautas Puidokas’s “El Padre Médico,” and Michel Negroponte’s “My Autonomous Neighbor” — films that set out to tell a story one way, only to uncover unexpected turns.

“We’ve been thinking a lot about how power is inherently embedded in the way films are made, in the stories we uphold about ourselves, our values, our places,” Senior Programmer Samara Chadwick said through the news release. “As a way of normalising the questioning of that power, we have curated constellations of works within the program that, together, offer varying approaches to common narratives.” For example, a trilogy of Filipino films present very different angles on the interwoven histories of the U.S. and the Philippines. The world premiere of Alexander A. Mora’s “The Nightcrawlers” offers a harrowing undercover look into the Duterte regime’s brutal war on drugs. Sung-A Yoon’s “Overseas,” a study of Filipina domestic workers training to work abroad, is set in sharp contrast to Lauren Greenfield’s “The Kingmaker,” which tells the story of Imelda Marcos, exposing her family’s long history of corruption, extravagance, and brutality.

The conflict in Syria will be represented in a kaleidoscope of films, including the U.S. premiere of Feras Fayyad’s “The Cave,” about a women-led underground hospital, “Copper Notes of a Dream,” in which director Reza Farahmand explores the indomitable spirits of children staging a concert in the rubble, and Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’s multiple-award-winning film “For Sama,” documenting a journalist mother’s love letter to her war-born daughter.

As a leading showcase of international works, CIFF welcomes the North American premieres of nine films, including the works of several emerging filmmakers, such as “The Giverny Document (Single Channel)” by Ja’Tovia Gary, “Lovemobil” by Elke Margarete Lehrenkrauss, “Progress in the Valley of the People Who Don’t Know” by Florian Kunert, “Sankara Is Not Dead” by Lucie Viver, and “La Vida en Común” by Ezequiel Yanco.

Nearly all screenings will be attended by the filmmakers, with creators from Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, and Syria, as well as creators from more than a dozen indigenous tribes, all converging on the coast of Maine.

Storyforms: Remixing Reality is CIFF’s growing exhibition of immersive documentary experiences and installations. This year the program will feature four room-scale VR and AR installations, nine works of 360-degree cinema, and a series of large-scale projections that question representations of race in America, including Garrett Bradley’s award-winning “America” and Whitney Dow’s “The Whiteness Project.”