Founded in 2005 and recognized as one of the top documentary film festivals in the world, the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) brings the finest non-fiction cinema to the rugged coast of Maine, showcasing over 80 documentary feature and short films from around the globe each fall.

CIFF is an experience just as unique as the films we exhibit. Nearly all films are followed by Q&A sessions with filmmakers and the festival boasts a number of musical performances, interactive installations, networking sessions and special events that enrich participant experiences. At CIFF, the emphasis is on building relationships between fellow filmmakers and industry. Each year our audiences grow, but our commitment to our mission remains the same. We love a good story, and we love to share them with our audiences.

CIFF's Points North Forum provides emerging documentarians with opportunities for professional development and creative inspiration.

The 2020 Camden International Film Festival and Points North Documentary Forum will take place October 1-12 in Camden, Rockport and Rockland, Maine.

If you have a documentary feature or short in development, consider applying for the Points North Fellowship, North Star Fellowship, or North Shorts Fellowship:

***2020 UPDATE***
Points North Institute, the organizers of the Camden International Film Festival, have announced updated plans for the 2020 festival with a singular goal in mind: to directly support independent filmmakers and collaboratively create spaces for community-building, organizing and collective imagination. In response to the ongoing worldwide health crisis, this year's CIFF and Points North Forum will be the most global, accessible edition of the festival to date, and will include a 12-day creative virtual experience with dozens of livestream events, alongside the launch of the festival’s very own drive-in movie theatre, and screenings at a small number of reduced-capacity theatres in Maine. The sixteenth edition of the Camden International Film Festival will take place from October 1-12, 2020 and will culminate with a special program to honor Indigenous People's Day in partnership with Nia Tero and Big Sky Documentary Festival.

During this year of unprecedented uncertainty and change, we are committed to examining how power and resources are distributed in the documentary film world and how festivals like CIFF can stand in solidarity with filmmakers to create more equitable, sustainable conditions for independent filmmaking — particularly for filmmakers that have been marginalized or excluded by the industry.

This year, 50% of net proceeds from our virtual festival box office will be added to our Filmmaker Solidarity Fund, a funding pool that will be divided evenly into honoraria for every participating filmmaker (or filmmaking team) in our 2020 program. If you’re able to consider a Patron or Producer pass, your purchase includes a tax deductible contribution and will help us direct even more resources to filmmakers, building more equitable and sustainable documentary field.

To read the full announcement:

Features (this category is a competition):
Harrell Award for Best Documentary Feature
Best Documentary Feature, awarded by a Jury
Cash and in-kind components
Sponsor: Harrell Foundation
Cash Award Value: $1,000USD

Emerging Cinematic Vision Award
Searching for new voices in non-fiction storytelling, awarded by a jury.
Prize consists of both cash and in-kind services / donation.
Cash Award Value: $1,000USD

John Marshall Award for Contemporary Ethnographic Media
Award for one film that recognizes excellence in ethnographic media.
The award is named after John Marshall, a pioneer in ethnographic filmmaking.
Sponsor: Documentary Educational Resources
Cash Award Value: $1,000USD

Audience Choice Award
Voted by the CIFF Audience
Cash and in-kind components
Cash Award Value: TBD

1st Place
Best Short Documentary
Sponsor: NonFiction Cartel
Cash Award Value: $500USD

Rules of entry:
The Camden International Film Festival is open to all documentary films of all styles, subjects and lengths. We also encourage submissions that push the boundaries of the form. All selected films will be notified by approximately August 19, 2020.

Works-in-progress are accepted at all deadlines and will be considered for screening at the Camden International Film Festival. The festival is open for discussion on this topic. If you have questions, please contact us.

The filmmaker agrees to be responsible for all shipping and insurance costs for shipping submission materials to the festival office. The submission will not be returned to the entrants unless a stamped, self-addressed envelope is included for return.

Films and videos are submitted complete with English commentary and/or English dialogue or in the original version with English subtitles.

All submitting filmmakers and distributors will be notified of the official selections prior to the festival. Films screening in competition will be announced on approximately August 19, 2020.

The festival has the right to use the publicity material (press books, posters, stills etc.) from selected films to promote the festival.

Upon gaining possession of the films or videos, the festival will only then accept limited responsibility for the films or videos, extending to the time that the festival organization ships the film or video back to the sender. The definition of this limited responsibility only includes a refund of laboratory expenses for making a new print of the roll or rolls of film damaged, or in case of a video, duplication of the videotape. This refund will be calculated according to the current US laboratory prices. It does not extend to negatives, positives or any other type of film component.

By submitting this documentary, I understand that I am agreeing to the following:

I own or control the copyright in and to, and am duly authorized to submit this documentary film to the Camden International Film Festival and to the best of my knowledge, all statements on this document are true;

This documentary contains no material which could result in tort claims, royalty claims, claims for breach of contract, or claims of any sort whatsoever;

Filmmakers give permission to festival to use press kits for marketing purposes, and a 60-second or less clip from film in highlight reel for box office and online festival trailer.

Overall Rating
  • Nancy Ghertner

    CIFF2020, provided many experiences that go beyond a festival experience for the documentary film maker. Webinars, Q & A's with selected film makers, networking opportunities through Discord, and Zooms, remember this was primarily a virtual year. They did screen select films at the Shotwell Drive-In which provided a spirit of "festival" even for those of us who were virtual. I would add that the communication level was exceptional - friendly and personal. A unique festival with its own way of engaging with its home state - Maine, and the documentary community.

    October 2020
  • Michel Negroponte

    CIFF is very special, one of my all time favorites, and I've been to countless film festivals. Camden, Maine is one of the most beautiful places on the east coast. The festival staff is involved and friendly. The venues are terrific, and the screenings are packed with enthusiastic crowds. Most importantly, the programming is thoughtful and first rate.
    Clearly, CIFF cares about filmmaking and filmmakers, and they do a tremendous job of sharing their vision with their audiences.

    September 2019