Paul Simon in “In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon.” Photos courtesy of Points North Institute

If the Points North Institute only brought Mainers the annual Camden International Film Festival, that’d be enough.

Every September for the last 19 years, Camden International has transformed Midcoast Maine into a hotspot for nonfiction filmmaking. CIFF, now gearing up to celebrate its illustrious 20th anniversary, is the place for documentary and nonfiction filmmakers to bring their newest, groundbreaking films, turning the unassuming Camden-Rockport area into a launching pad for new and established directors to score deals, make industry connections and, most importantly, present their singular visions to a Maine audience conditioned to expect the best of the best.

Points North isn’t just CIFF, however. Its Points North Forum nurtures up-and-coming documentarians year-round, lending the organization’s insider skills as the filmmakers seek to take their careers to the next level. Points North provides grants and residency for filmmakers, nurtures Maine’s filmmaking (and filmgoing) tradition in central Maine, and constantly seeks to make cinema an integral part of Mainers’ daily life.

And sometimes, they just throw us an all-day festival.

That’s what’s happening Saturday at the Camden Opera House, when Points North presents its 4th annual Cabin Fever Film Festival. As new CIFF Program Director Sean Flynn puts it concerning this all-day event, “Cabin Fever is a way to say thank you to an incredible community. We host a big event every September, but Cabin Fever is a space where people can come together and we can strip away a lot of the extra elements.”

As anyone smart enough to have attended the Camden International Film Festival knows, CIFF is nothing but extra elements. Filmmakers from all over the world come to present their latest works and answer questions, and there are heavily attended meet-and-greets, concerts and parties. Cabin Fever, on the other hand, is all about the movies, a relaxed and comfy treat for Maine film fans staring down the back half of yet another interminable, cold winter.


“It’s just really nice to sit in a movie theater with your neighbors and other community members,” said Flynn, who’s taking the CIFF reins from longtime programmer Ben Fowlie this year. “It’s a chance to just watch a movie, have some snacks and hot beverages and talk documentary cinema during a time of the year where we don’t have that many opportunities.” For Flynn, Cabin Fever is a wintertime oasis for Mainers to come together. “It’s a place for people to mingle, bump into neighbors, make other plans – it functions as a public space at a time when there are fewer of these spaces around.”

Of course, coffee and chat are all well and good, but what about this year’s movies? Said Flynn, “Cabin Fever always has something for everyone.” Looking over the typically eclectic lineup of this year’s festival, I’d have to say Flynn knows what he’s talking about.

Up first is acclaimed director Alex Gibney’s (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” “Taxi to the Dark Side”) epic, two-part retrospective on the life and career of one of America’s most influential musicians, “In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon.” The three-and-a-half hour film is split into two parts, kicking off this year’s Cabin Fever bright and early at 10 a.m., and serves as something of a do-over for a film expected to serve as last year’s CIFF centerpiece.

“If you remember, a hurricane (Hurricane Lee, the spoilsport) swept through Camden during last year’s festival,” said Flynn. “It knocked out power, and so the most anticipated film of that season’s slate got canceled.” Bad luck for CIFF is Cabin Fever’s good fortune, as “Restless Dreams,” according to Flynn, “is simply an epic experience on the big screen, with outstanding sound at the Opera House.”

“Washington County” is one of three Maine-made short films in the festival’s Recovery in Maine program.

The middle portion of this year’s Cabin Fever Film Festival is especially close to Flynn and Points North’s heart, as the three Maine-made short films making up the Recovery in Maine program not only feelingly address the ongoing opioid epidemic in our state but represent Points North’s first-ever foray into producing original content.

Said Flynn, “We were set up to support filmmakers, develop ideas and help them get funding. Now we’re working with Maine filmmakers to produce original stories that need to be made, and told.” To that end, these three films, “Penobscot County,” “Washington County” and “Youth Voices” all serve under the Recovery in Maine banner to bring attention to the very real people fighting for survival and hope in the addiction and recovery communities.


As Flynn notes, “Since 2018, we’ve presented Recovery in Maine screenings that are part of our commitment to year-round engagement with the community. We’re invested in the possibility of the documentary space being a catalyst for engagement, and touring these films around the state, we seek to bring resources necessary to get people back on their feet and keep young people from the path of addiction.” As part of that goal, Flynn stresses that these three Maine-made shorts are all open and free to the public during Cabin Fever.

“Copa 71” unearths archival footage to tell the story of the inaugural – and defiantly successful – Women’s World Cup in 1971. The documentary by Rachel Ramsey and James Erskine will cap off the Cabin Fever festival.

Closing out this year’s festival at 7:30 p.m. is a rousing, eye-opening documentary that uncovers one of the great forgotten sports events in world history in Rachel Ramsey and James Erskine’s “Copa 71.” Did you know that the inaugural Women’s World Cup was held in front of hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic spectators in 1971 in Mexico? I sure didn’t, and neither do most people, as the unsanctioned world championship tournament was held in spite of worldwide disregard and even outright bans of women’s soccer (the sport was essentially illegal in Brazil until 1979). The film, produced by groundbreaking female athletes Venus and Serena Williams, unearths archival footage of the defiantly successful event and seeks out living players delighted that their part in the battle for respect and recognition in women’s sports is finally getting its due.

Said Flynn: “That a historic event like this can get written out of history books makes for a great example of the renaissance in archival storytelling. It’s a great feminist sports film that anyone of any age can appreciate, and we’re hoping that a lot of young athletes come to this and get inspired.”

Inspiration, community, art, warmth and great movies – that’s what the Cabin Fever Film Festival is all about. To book your tickets, head to Points North’s website,

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