TFI headed to Maine last month for our third annual Camden/TFI Filmmaker Retreat, with our partners at Points North Institute and the Retreat’s presenting sponsor, CNN Films. Five U.S.-based documentary filmmaking teams from diverse backgrounds participated and received professional guidance and mentorship to advance their filmmaking skills and learn about impact producing, financing, the state of the documentary marketplace and more.
Why leave (distracting, bustling) NYC? The idea is to have participants go completely offline and allow themselves a week to purely focus on diving deep into their creative projects, without the minutia of everyday life.
“There are not that many opportunities out there to be immersed in a place full of creativity and talent, where projects can take flight and filmmakers find the confidence to push our films forward through all the obstacles ahead. In our experience the Camden/TFI Retreat is that place and more. We came back knowing what we need to do to make an amazing film, and with the confidence that we can make it happen.” - Filmmaker, Raul Paz-Pastrana, BORDER SOUTH
This year’s industry mentors included director/producer Kristi Jacobson, director/producer/writer Amir Bar Lev, Andrea Meditch, Founding Director of Back Allie Entertainment, Courtney Sexton, Vice President of CNN Films, editor/producer Jean Tsien and Sue Turley, President, ro*co films productions.
“One of our main objectives is to always cultivate an intimate and fruitful collaboration between the participating filmmakers and the invited mentors, and this year brought about a legendary trope of experts that enthusiastically delved deep into the group conversations,” said Jose Rodriguez, TFI’s Director of Documentary Programs. “Our mentors were instrumental in covering crucial elements about the documentary film landscape, from the pro’s and con’s of impact distribution campaigns to learning to edit your film with your heart. Although TFI has been partnering with the Points North Institute and CNN Films for over three years to conduct and run this workshop, it was my first time actually attending the Camden / TFI Retreat this year. After such a productive week, I truly feel that I learned as much as the filmmakers did!”
Here are the 2017 participants hard at work:
BELLY OF THE BEAST – Erika Cohn (Director/Producer); Angela Tucker (Producer)
BELLY OF THE BEAST intimately chronicles the journey of women fighting reproductive injustice in their communities.
BORDER SOUTH – Raul O. Paz Pastrana (Director/Producer/Cinematographer); Ellen Knechel (Editor/Co-Producer)
Since 2014 Mexico has deported more immigrants than the United States, becoming an expansion of the U.S. Southern Border and forever changing the migrant trail. Through a series of portraits BORDER SOUTH melds ethnography and cinema-verité to explore the harsh physical environment and brutal journey of undocumented Central American immigrants crossing Mexico towards the United States under these new conditions.
HOW TO HAVE AN AMERICAN BABY – Leslie Tai (Director/Producer); Jillian Schultz (Co-Producer)
There is a city in Southern California that is teeming with pregnant women from China. Through a network of deeply personal vignettes, this film traces the human supply chain of the booming shadow economy of Chinese birth tourism from Beijing and Shanghai to Los Angeles—chronicling the fortunes and tragedies that befall the ordinary people caught in the web of its influence.
THE MOUNTAIN AND THE MAGIC CITY – Bridget Besaw (Director/Producer); Ben Severance (Director/Producer)
In the shadow of a mountain, a place once known as the Magic City stands as a symbol of the American heartland, abandoned by industry and disappearing back into the forest. THE MOUNTAIN AND THE MAGIC CITY is an intimate portrait of neighbors forced to confront the issues dividing America today when a controversial national park comes to town.
THE YOUTH – Eunice Lau (Director/Producer); Arthur Nazaryan (Director/Producer)
THE YOUTH explores a father’s search for answers after his firstborn is arrested in an FBI sting operation and accused of attempting to join ISIS in Syria. Through the journey of Yusuf Abdurahman and his family, THE YOUTH will confront issues of Islamophobia, the rise of radical Islam, and seek to understand what it means to be Muslim in contemporary America.
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