LEF/CIFF Fellowship2020-10-29T16:32:28-04:00


Now in its 3rd year, the LEF/CIFF Fellowship is an opportunity for 6 New England-based filmmaker teams to attend the 2020 Camden International Film Festival and connect with funders, distributors, producers, and other industry professionals through a series of curated 1:1 meetings.

CIFF has become an important stop on the documentary festival circuit for both filmmakers and industry delegates, who attend to build new relationships with filmmakers participating in Points North Institute’s Artist Programs. Over the past two years, our 1:1 meetings have been attended by representatives from Ford Foundation | Just Films, ITVS, Netflix, SFFILM, Sundance Institute, and many more.

Developed in partnership with LEF New England, this program supports career sustainability for regional filmmakers by providing a unique point of access to potential industry supporters and the broader documentary community.

The LEF/CIFF Fellowship includes:

  • Participation in 1:1 meetings with industry attendees
  • Two Virtual All Access passes to 2020 CIFF and Points North Forum programming
  • $300 honorarium to all filmmaking teams who participate


  • The Fellowship is open to projects with directors who have established their primary residence in New England
  • Feature documentary projects in production or post-production
  • Prior LEF/CIFF Fellows are not eligible to participate in the program again with the same project. However, prior LEF/CIFF Fellows may apply with a new project.

Applicants will be evaluated based on LEF New England’s guidelines, which include these factors:

  • Quality of cinematic form and technique
  • Originality of filmmaker’s voice, vision, and point of view
  • Resonance and power of the film’s core idea or story
  • Feasibility of production

Applications for the LEF/CIFF Fellowship are now closed.

The LEF/CIFF Fellowship application follows the guidelines established by the IDA’s Documentary Core Application Project.

“We just wanted to thank you again for the incredible opportunity to join you all at CIFF this year as LEF/CIFF fellows! This is the kind of generosity we’ve come to truly appreciate in both of your organizations. When others seem to cultivate exclusion, you open your arms to filmmakers when we need it most. Getting the chance to introduce the project to industry and fellow creatives in Camden was deeply energizing and encouraging. The 1:1 meetings gave us tangible and valuable new relationships and information we’re eager to use.”

– Garrett Zevgetis, Ariana Garfinkel, and Jeff Consiglio

In partnership with

The mission of LEF New England is to fund the work of independent film and video artists in the region and broaden recognition and support for their work locally and nationally.

2020 LEF/CIFF Fellows

BOUND BY BLOOD – Echoes of the Elaine Massacre

When Sheila Walker discovers her ancestors were victims of the 1919 Elaine Race Massacre, it triggers a quest for understanding. Visiting Elaine Arkansas, she recognizes how the massacre still reverberates through her family and the still highly segregated community, which has not yet fully reckoned with its past. Through the stories of black and white descendants, BOUND BY BLOOD provides an extremely timely lens for investigating ideas around reconciling with race and history.

Directed by Franziska Blome, Llewellyn Smith

Produced by Franziska Blome, Llewellyn Smith, Annie Stopford

About the Directors

Franziska Blome is an Emmy and DuPont-Columbia Award-winning documentary researcher and filmmaker. She directed international research for the two PBS documentaries THE WALL and AFTER THE WALL, about the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall. She was co-producer and researcher for the highly acclaimed PBS series on health disparities, UNNATURAL CAUSES. During her nine years at WGBH, her projects included many documentaries for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and NOVA. She’s produced and edited several shorts in recent years. Currently, she’s editing a 1-hr documentary about the criminal justice system in New Orleans. BOUND BY BLOOD is her directorial debut.

A veteran filmmaker of over 30 years, Llewellyn Smith’s documentary work takes as its focus American History, race relations and social justice. His films have received numerous awards including the George Foster Peabody Award, the Alfred I. duPont Award, the Eric Barnouw Award, the John O’Connor Film Award, the National Science Writers Award, and the Emmy Award. For 10 years Llew was Series Editor for the acclaimed PBS history series AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and responsible for the acquisition and development of over 70 programs for broadcast. His race related film AMERICAN DENIAL was broadcast in 2015 on Independent Lens. He has since produced and directed several more documentaries for NOVA and PBS.

The Cleaning Writer (Working Title)

Beatriz, a domestic worker in the U.S. and Carolina, her daughter-filmmaker, collaborate to create the fictional character, Bea – author of the forthcoming book “How to Migrate to the United States.” The Cleaning Writer is a hybrid documentary that tells a story about immigration, labor, dreams and the power of fiction to generate emancipation.

Directed and Produced by Carolina González Valencia

About the Director

​Carolina’s practice lies at the intersection of personal, social, and political narratives. She weaves multiple media–animation, video, film, performance, writing, drawing, painting–to create documents that challenge social and historical representations of migration, otherness, diaspora, and labor. She has worked on projects in Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Lebanon, and the United States. Carolina’s work has been shown internationally at such venues as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Quito, Ecuador; the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (Rockland, ME); GAZE (San Francisco); International short films showcase (Jakarta, Indonesia); Full Frame Theater/International short films and videos (Durham, NC); Broward College (Davie, FL); Contra el Silencio Todas Las Voces (Mexico City); Cinemateca Distrital (Bogotá, Colombia); Gene Siskel Film Center (Chicago). Her films have been screened on public access TV on such sites as Can TV (Chicago) and Videonautas (Colombia). She is the recipient of the Lyn Blumenthal Scholarship (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), the Gelman Travel Fellowship (School of the Art Institute of Chicago); and the Programa Nacional de Estímulos (Colombian Ministry of Culture). She received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation). Carolina is now an assistant professor in the Department of Art and Visual Culture at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

No One Told Me

No One Told Me provides a rare look at the postpartum period, an experience shared by women worldwide but never before captured in documentary film. This radically intimate work follows Elise and Marc during the first six weeks of parenthood. Focusing on the new mother, it shares her profound identity shift and the significant physical, hormonal and psychological changes she faces after giving birth.

Directed and Produced by Zulilah Merry

About the Director

Zulilah is a Dutch filmmaker based in Maine. In 2013 she was selected for IDFAcademy with a personal project about having a father who struggles with bipolar disorder. She moved to Maine with her husband in 2015, where they own and run a small motel during the summer months. Her own experience as a first time mother inspired her current project No One Told Me.

Power & Light

The story of one family, Pastor Joel Almono and his wife Sue Seaquist, is woven with the larger narrative of a fractious group of clergy organizing for environmental justice in the LatinX town of Lawrence, MA. Brought together by a massive natural gas explosion, responding to the devastation of Covid19, this coalition of religious leaders is determined to put vulnerable communities like theirs at the center of the fight against the existential threat of climate change.

Directing/ Producing Team, New England: Sabrina Aviles, Jesse Ericka Epstein

Directing/ Producing Team, New York: Rose Rosenblatt, Marion Lipschutz

About the Directors

Sabrina Avilés is a Telly-award-winning independent filmmaker, whose work has taken her throughout Latin America, Canada and Europe. She recently completed producing her first film for public television entitled, “Childsplay: A Parting Glass,” a concert film featuring the fiddle band Childsplay, scheduled to air in the Fall 2020. During her 25+ year career, she has worked on many PBS programs. Her list of credits include: “Councilwoman,” (America Reframed 2019), American Experience’s “American Comandante” (2015) and “The Raising of America” (2014), a PBS documentary series about early childhood development produced by California Newsreel. In 2012, she worked on the Peabody award-winning PBS series, “Latino Americans.” That same year, she received development funds from the prestigious Independent Television Services (ITVS) to begin work on a documentary about the sterilization of Puerto Rican women. In addition to her work as a filmmaker, Ms. Avilés is also Executive Director of the Boston Latino International Film Festival.

Jesse Ericka Epstein is a Sundance Award-Winning documentary filmmaker. She received a Masters Degree in Documentary Film from NYU, and was named one of “25 filmmakers to watch” by Filmmaker Magazine. Her films have screened at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), MaSS MoCA, The Peabody Museum, and Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam. Jesse’s film 34x25x36 received a national PBS Broadcast on POV. She has a published video Op-Doc in the New York Times. Jesse received grants from Chicken & Egg Pictures, The Fledgling Fund, and Catapult Film Fund. She’s also received a National Endowment for the Arts residency at MacDowell, a Working Films Residency at MaSS MoCA, a Residency at Marble House Project, and a family friendly art residency at Rockland Woods.

The Story of Wealth

The United States of America has been dubbed the “wealthiest nation in the history of the world,” – but at what cost? The Story of Wealth dissects the economic interests of the United States and its citizens through an investigation of the imperial, racialized, and destructive consequences of wealth creation and concentration from the colonies to the current day.

Directed by Kevin Tobin

Produced by Negin Owliaei, Lisa Wall

About the Director

Kevin Tobin is a filmmaker in Boston, MA. He has been involved with media campaigns and content advocating for social, economic, and racial justice via Sen. Bernie Sanders (I, VT), the Institute for Policy Studies, and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for United for a Fair Economy.

Velvet Citizen

Jaroslav spent over forty years building his boat by hand in his backyard in the landlocked, former Czechoslovakia. Communist rule was harsh and limiting. Following the fall of Communism and the Velvet Revolution, Jaroslav worked with a renewed sense of intention and potential. Velvet Citizen is a story of hope, the journey towards greater freedom, and the wisdom learned along the way. This is Jaroslav’s story of sailing.

Directed by Lindsay Taylor Jackson

Produced by Lindsay Taylor Jackson, Katy Haas, Garrett Beltis, Craig Mellish

About the Director

Lindsay Taylor Jackson makes documentary, narrative, and experimental films. Jackson is a Director of Photography and was recently chosen for the 2020-2021 ASC Vision Mentorship Program (American Society of Cinematographers). In 2018, she was selected by the American Film Institute (AFI) to participate in the very first Cinematography Intensive for Women (CIW).
Jackson recently finished her first film, Navigating THRU, about women thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Previously, for The Address, she worked under Ken Burns as a Cinematographer and Assistant Edited for Craig Mellish, ACE at Florentine Films. She served as an intern at Florentine Films on The Dust Bowl, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, and Prohibition.
Jackson received her BA from Keene State College and studied at FAMU (The Academy of Film and Performing Arts) in Prague of the Czech Republic. She worked as a Teaching Assistant at Maine Media Workshops for the 2012 Filmmaking Track.

The fellowship begins with two full days of intensive pitch training and focused mentorship with industry veterans prior to the start of the festival on September 13-14. These sessions will prepare filmmakers to pitch their projects to an international panel of funders, broadcasters, distributors and producers before a live audience at the Points North Pitch on September 16. Each pitch lasts exactly 7 minutes, followed by 12 minutes of feedback from the panel.

Following the festival, all Points North Fellows will receive a ticket to the Cinema Eye Honors (held in mid-January 2017), an invitation to CIFF’s annual Cinema Eye Nominees Party and two nights of accommodations in New York. Taking place four months after the pitch, these events give Fellows an opportunity to connect with the wider documentary community and follow up on their pitches by setting up targeted one-on-one meetings with industry delegates.

Past panelists at the Points North Pitch include representatives from:

  • BBC
  • HBO
  • A&E IndieFilms
  • ARTE
  • POV
  • PBS
  • Al Jazeera America
  • ITVS
  • Ford Foundation
  • Sundance Institute
  • Tribeca Film Institute
  • Cinereach
  • Catapult Film Fund
  • The Fledgling Fund
  • San Francisco Film Society
  • Chicken & Egg Pictures
  • LEF Foundation
  • Participant Media
  • Naked Edge Films
  • The Orchard




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