TFI & Points North Institute Announce Fourth Annual Filmmaker Retreat in Partnership with CNN Films

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[New York, NY - June 15, 2018] - Tribeca Film Institute®  and Points North Institute (PNI) today announced the fourth annual filmmaker retreat in partnership with CNN Films. The Camden/TFI Retreat, presented by CNN Films, kicks off June 15 in Camden and Rockport, Maine and will run for seven days, providing five U.S.-based documentary filmmaking teams with professional guidance and mentorship, from notable filmmakers, editors and producers, to help them advance their filmmaking careers.


This year’s selected projects represent a variety of thought-provoking themes around American culture and social issues, from Syrian refugees resettling in New England amidst an opioid crisis, to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, the effects of terrorism, the search for immortality within a globalized world, and what the American Dream really looks like in today’s society. Each tells a powerful and vital story about contemporary America.


“TFI is delighted to partner again with CNN Films and Points North Institute on the June lab” said Amy Hobby, Executive Director of TFI. “The retreat allows storytellers a rare chance to get out of the intensity of the edit room, to gain fresh perspectives and feedback from peers and mentors alike.”


Members of each of the five filmmaking teams this year will attend a pre-workshop, weekend getaway to Hurricane Island in Maine. The workshop portion of the retreat will consist of four intensive days of mentoring sessions and master classes led by a team of accomplished filmmakers and industry experts. Each filmmaker will advance their filmmaking skills and learn about storytelling craft, producing, the state of the documentary marketplace, and more.


“CNN Films is so pleased to partner with TFI and PNI, two leaders in the documentary film industry, in our shared mission of fostering these emerging filmmakers,” said Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide.  “We are dedicated to ensuring a viable career path for documentarians, the chronicling storytellers of our lives and times,” she said.


All five projects that participated in last year’s retreat are currently in post-production. Three of the five projects in 2016 and 2015 have been completed and distributed, most notably THE FAMILY I HAD and NO MAN’S LAND (originally MALHEUR) which premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival®.  THE REAGAN SHOW, a participant in the 2015 retreat, also premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and was acquired for broadcast by CNN Films. ROLL RED ROLL, a participant in the inaugural 2015 retreat, just recently had its World Premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.


This year’s industry mentors and experts include director/producer Kristi Jacobson (A PLACE AT THE TABLE, SOLITARY) producer Susan Bedusa (KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE, BISBEE ‘17), editor Francisco Bello (OUR NIXON, THE REAGAN SHOW), filmmaker Yoruba Richen (THE NEW BLACK), Courtney Sexton (vice president of CNN Films) and Josh Braun (film producer and co-founder of Submarine Entertainment). 


"We're honored to welcome another extremely talented group of filmmakers to Maine" said Ben Fowlie, Points North Institute's executive and artistic director. "Opportunities to take a deep dive into the creative process in a distraction-free environment supported by an incredible group of mentors are rare. We're thrilled to continue our partnership with CNN Films and TFI to ensure these creative storytellers and these important stories continue to evolve."


The retreat participants are:


ETERNAL LIFE FAN CLUB - Rita Baghdadi (co-director); Jeremiah Hammerling (co-director)

A reclusive YouTuber and a Transhumanist politician embark on a road trip across the U.S in a 1978 RV modified to look like a coffin. Their mission? To convince the world they should never die.


TREASURE ISLAND - Cecilia Aldarondo (director)

A kaleidoscopic portrait of life in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico.


THE GUT (WORKING TITLE) - Jennifer Maytorena Taylor (director)

Filmed over two years in a small New England community caught in the opioid epidemic and a battle over Syrian refugee resettlement, THE GUT (working title) explores what changes – and what doesn’t – when small town America meets the world and discovers it is us.


THE TERRORIST'S SON - Danny Yourd (director)

An intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the life of an Zak Ebrahim, an American boy raised by his terrorist father - the man who helped plan the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Zak has spent his life trying to understand what drew his father to terrorism, and struggled with the knowledge that he has his blood in his veins. This is a portrait of a young man who was raised in the fires of fanaticism and embraced nonviolence instead.


TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES - Hannah Jayanti (director)

 In 1950, the residents of a small desert town in New Mexico voted to rename themselves after the game show, “Truth or Consequences”. Like many towns where work is scarce, they poured their dreams into the prosperity that might come. Now, nearly seventy years later, the same hopes are playing out as Spaceport America, the world’s first commercial spaceport, is built just outside of town. 


About Tribeca Film Institute (

Tribeca Film Institute champions storytellers to be catalysts for change in their communities and around the world. Each year, we identify a diverse group of exceptional filmmakers and media artists then empower them with funding and resources to fully realize their stories and connect with audiences. Our education programs empower students through hands-on training and exposure to socially relevant films, offering young people the media skills necessary to be creative and productive global citizens. We are a year-round nonprofit arts organization founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of September 11, 2001.


Points North Institute


The Points North Institute is the launching pad for the next generation of nonfiction storytellers. Building on the success of the Camden International Film Festival, which is now entering its 13th season, the Points North Institute’s mission is to bring together a unique, interdisciplinary community of filmmakers, artists, journalists, industry leaders and local audiences, forming a creative hub on the coast of Maine where new stories and talent are discovered, collaborations are born, and the future of nonfiction media is shaped. Programs include the annual Camden International Film Festival and Points North Forum, as well as a year-round calendar of artist development initiatives that nurture the careers of diverse nonfiction storytellers and help them develop a stronger artistic voice. The 2018 Camden International Film Festival and Points North Forum will take place September 13 - 16 in Camden, Rockport and Rockland, Maine.


About CNN Films

CNN Films, now celebrating its fifth year, produces and acquires documentary feature and short films for theatrical and festival exhibition and distribution across CNN’s multiple platforms.  Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development, oversees the strategy for CNN Films; Courtney Sexton, vice president for CNN Films, works day-to-day with filmmakers to oversee projects.  For more information about CNN Films, please visit and follow @CNNFilms via Twitter.  Recent acclaimed CNN Films include: AMERICAN JAIL directed by Roger Ross Williams; RBG, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen; LOVE, GILDA, directed by Lisa D’Apolito; and Three Identical Strangers, directed by Tim Wardle.  

14 Jun 2018

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