Wednesday, June 19, 2013
By DENNIS PERKINS
For aspiring Maine filmmakers, leaving home for the bright lights of New York or Los Angeles might seem a necessity. After all, that's where the action is, and how can you get your work to the right people when the right people aren't exactly right around the corner?
The Points North Pitch brings major players in the worldwide documentary industry to Camden to hear Mainers explain their current work.
COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS
MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Thursday: "The Grapes of Wrath." The Maine Historical society's ongoing celebration of Portland's favorite son John Ford continues with a screening of Ford's classic 1940 adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel, with Henry Fonda suffering nobly as he tries to keep his family together during the Great Depression.
PORTLAND PUBLIC LIBRARY
Wednesday: "I'm Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful." Director Jonathan Demme's inspirational documentary portrait of Parker, a civil rights activist and mother, and her struggle to rebuild her life, house and church after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans' Ninth Ward.
Unless, once a year, the world comes to you.
The Points North Pitch brings major players in the worldwide documentary industry to the Camden International Film Festival to hear five Maine documentarians explain their current works-in-progress. Taking place this year on Sept. 28-29 as part of Camden's Points North Forum for documentary filmmakers, the Pitch, according to festival founder/director Ben Fowlie, is an unprecedented opportunity for Maine directors to reach a wider audience and for the festival to help out the state's best.
"The Pitch started as a way to shine a spotlight on all this great work being created in Maine, so far from the hubs of indie documentary production," explains Fowlie (who collaborates on running Points North with director Sean Flynn), "and we bring in a distinguished panel of delegates, funders, broadcasters -- people who might be interested in a co-production."
In past Pitches, those industry insiders have included representatives from the likes of HBO, PBS, BBC, the Tribeca Film Institute, the New York Times and documentary powerhouse ITVS, with a similarly impressive lineup planned for this year's panel.
Previous winners of the Points North Pitch include "Betting the Farm" by directors Jason Mann and Cecily Pingree, which documents the risky move by rural Maine dairy farmers to start their own milk company (an official selection for the 2012 AFI/Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Film Festival) and "Mosquito" by Jesse Epstein and Hannah Rosenzweig about the global battle against Maine's unofficial state bird.
In addition to its invaluable networking opportunities (and the $1,000 cash prize for the winner), this year, Fowlie promises an added bonus for directors selected for the Pitch.
"One thing we're doing is a lot more one-on-one mentoring this year," says Fowlie. "That, coupled with the nuts-and-bolts expertise and experience in actually pitching your project, means it's a more intimate experience. Plus, this allows us to stand behind several projects each year to make sure they get finished and funded. We're really proud seeing the benefits even just in the last two years."
The submission deadline is Aug. 31, and for an aspiring documentarian, the $30 submission fee seems like a gamble well worth taking. See camdenfilmfest.org/pointsnorth for details.
Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.