CAMDEN, Maine — With the 18th annual Camden International Film Festival set to begin on Thursday, organizers are feeling pretty good, which wasn’t necessarily the case in 2020 and 2021.
It wasn’t easy to get people to leave their homes to watch movies during the first two years of the pandemic, and there’s a sense of relief for the festival this year that things are getting closer to normal.
“We just really want to get the word out that we’re here,” CIFF Executive Director Ben Fowlie said. “We’re bringing filmmakers in from all over the world and we really want to show those artists who are here sharing their work that this is a community and a state that loves documentary and nonfiction cinema.”
That has been the festival’s niche from the beginning — documentaries, no scripted films — and it has turned out to be crucial to its growth.
“I think it was huge,” Fowlie said. “Mainly because it gave the festival an identity in and of itself. There were very few organizations that were focused specifically on documentary.”
One of the festival’s venues is The Shotwell Drive-In in Rockport, which offers a movie-going experience that has caught on nicely in the midcoast.
“Some of the most exciting moments we have here are on Saturday nights with some of our family-friendly films, seeing kids playing ball, dogs running, people grilling,” Fowlie said. “The idea of a drive-in never gets old.”