Points North
Points North Forum 2018-06-06T23:22:27+00:00


Each year, the Points North Forum brings together the international documentary film community to reflect on the business, craft and future of nonfiction storytelling while connecting with peers and industry leaders in an intimate setting. Our full three-day program features hands-on workshops, panel discussions, one-on-one meetings, pitch sessions, networking events and master classes that help independent documentary filmmakers advance their projects in concrete, meaningful ways.

Access to Points North is included with all CIFF passes.


Friday, September 15

10:00am – 11:30am (High Mountain Hall)
From Deep in The Archives
This conversation will take on the creative side of archival filmmaking — finding, understanding, and recontextualizing footage — then looking at how it succeeds, where it can falter, and how far is too far. Sierra Pettengill, archival researcher and director of THE REAGAN SHOW and Nels Bangerter, editor of CAMERAPERSON and LET THE FIRE BURN will join writer and curator Eric Hynes, none of whom are lawyers, to go beyond the question of “is this fair use?” to address archival’s emerging creative and ethical issues.

  • Sierra Pettengill (THE REAGAN SHOW)
  • Nels Bangerter (editor, CAMERAPERSON)
  • Moderated by Eric Hynes (Film Comment Magazine, Museum of the Moving Image

10:00am – 11:30am (Camden Opera House Tucker Room)
What Do Cameras Do?
Jason Fox, Editor of the new journal World Records, invites a group of CIFF filmmakers to address a seemingly straight-forward question: what do cameras do? We often assume that cameras simply represent reality. Yet, from the cameras in our pockets to the cutting edge of virtual reality technology, the choices documentarians make about the cameras they use, how to use them, and the implications of those choices have never been so complex. How do the decisions these creators make inform their relationships with their subjects? When are cameras revealing, and when are they invasive? In the age of the camera phone, is everyone a documentarian?

  • Jacquelyn Mills (IN THE WAVES)
  • Angelika Spangel + Matthias Krepp (SAND UND BLUT)
  • Travis Wilkerson (DID YOU WONDER WHO FIRED THE GUN?)
  • Moderated by Jason Fox (World Records, Princeton)

12:00pm – 1:30pm (High Mountain Hall)
Trust Falls
Trust between filmmaker and subject is key. And yet subjects often have their own motivations for being filmed – and can be combative, unreliable, or compromise their own safety for the camera. The line between getting access and being honest is a tricky one to walk, and these filmmakers amplify the stakes by shooting in dangerously tense environments.This session breaks open the assumption of objective and virtuous documentary truths and deliberately lays bare, as do these filmmakers, the messiness of pursuing a story beyond the headlines… and the below the facades people often wish to present.

  • Violeta Ayala (COCAINE PRISON)
  • Daniel McCabe + Horeb Bulambo (THIS IS CONGO)
  • Jason Kohn (LOVE MEANS ZERO)
  • Mark Grieco (A RIVER BELOW)
  • Moderated by Charlotte Cook (Field_of_Vision)

12:00pm – 1:30pm (Camden Opera House Tucker Room)
Encounters in Documentary Sound
Sound designer and artist Ernst Karel’s work is behind some of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of recent years, including MANAKAMANA and LEVIATHAN. In this masterclass, he discusses ideas about three aspects of working with ethnographic or documentary audio — location recording, listening back, and editing – and the transformative potentials of each.


2:00pm – 3:30pm (High Mountain Hall)
Whose Stories?
From Black Lives Matter to Charlottesville, the stark realities of racial violence and the enduring legacy of white supremacy have become central to America’s political discourse in recent years. This moderated conversation between Sabaah Folayan (WHOSE STREETS?) and Lee Anne Schmitt (PURGE THIS LAND) explores the role of the documentary artist in helping audiences navigate and understand this historical moment. How can both white and black filmmakers confront the traumas of racism while remaining accountable to their histories, their communities and their racial identity? And how might documentary open up new frames for discourse and spaces for healing?

  • Sabaah Folayan (WHOSE STREETS?)
  • Lee Anne Schmitt (PURGE THIS LAND)
  • Moderated by Jennifer MacArthur (Borderline Media)

2:00pm – 3:30pm (Camden Opera House Tucker Room)
Real Stories, Virtual Worlds
Like other new media in their heydays, virtual reality has been greeted by both the inflated expectations of its promise as an “empathy machine” and skepticism about its viability as the “future of storytelling.” Nevertheless, the technologies that enable filmmakers, journalists and artists to tell reality-based stories in virtual worlds continue to mature each year. The groundbreaking VR creators featured in this year’s Storyforms: Remixing Reality exhibition discuss the nonfiction potentials of volumetric capture, 3D game engines, multi-sensory experience design and next generation VR platforms.

  • Carla Borras (Frontline PBS)
  • Winslow Porter (Tree VR)
  • Joseph Ellsworth (CFC Media Lab)

5:00pm – 6:30pm (High Mountain Hall)
Points North Reception presented by LEF Foundation
After a busy day of panels, masterclasses and screenings, join the LEF Foundation for drinks, light fare and conversation with new friends at this annual gathering of the documentary film community. Open to All Access passholders only.

Saturday, September 16

10:00am – 12:00pm (Camden Opera House Auditorium)
Points North Pitch (presented by SHOWTIME Documentary Films)
Whether you’re a film professional or not, the Points North Pitch is an invaluable chance to learn about the process of developing a documentary film and see first-hand how leading decision-makers evaluate projects. Six teams of filmmakers selected for CIFF’s Points North Fellowship will pitch their works-in-progress to a distinguished panel of funders, broadcasters, distributors and producers. Each pitch lasts exactly 7 minutes, followed by 12 minutes of critical feedback. Filmmakers will have an opportunity to win the Points North Pitch Prize and Modulus Finishing Fund, which includes an in-kind post-production package from Modulus Studios. This is a free, public event. The winner will be announced on Saturday at 5:30pm at the Dowling Walsh Reception in Rockland, open to All-Access passholders and Industry guests.

  • Daniel Chalfen (Naked Edge Films)
  • Lisa Kleiner Chanoff (Catapult Film Fund)
  • Charlotte Cook (Field of Vision)
  • Maxyne Franklin (Doc Society)
  • Tabitha Jackson (Sundance Institute)
  • Carrie Lozano (IDA Enterprise Fund)
  • Cara Mertes (Ford Foundation)
  • Marie Nelson (PBS)
  • Molly O’Brien (Fork Films)
  • Jose Rodriguez (Tribeca Film Institute)
  • John Van Wyck (Cinereach)
  • Caroline von Kuhn (SFFILM)
  • Moderated by Brian Newman (Sub-Genre)

1:30pm – 2:30pm (High Mountain Hall)
The Verité Director: A Conversation with Steve James and Jeff Unay
Presented by Maine Media Workshops
Acclaimed documentary director and producer Steve James (HOOP DREAMS, THE INTERRUPTERS) has built a career on making intimate, verité films that reveal deep emotional truths about the unforgettable characters he follows. Director Jeff Unay builds on this tradition with his cinematic debut feature, THE CAGE FIGHTER. In this wide ranging discussion, the two directors explore the creative challenges of being a verité director, building deep relationships with subjects, and distilling the messiness of everyday life into a powerful character-driven story.

  • Jeff Unay (THE CAGE FIGHTER)

3:00pm – 4:30pm (High Mountain Hall)
Truth and Power: Free Expression for Nonfiction Storytellers
Telling stories that challenge powerful institutions and figures has never been easy, but in 2017, press freedom seems to be increasingly under attack in the United States and around the world. Filmmakers, journalists and media activists face hostile political leaders, well-funded legal challenges, threats of arrest and assault, difficulty accessing public records, and digital technologies that makes it harder to protect sources and source material. Leading thinkers and advocates for investigative and activist media makers will discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by this new climate, while sharing tools, techniques and strategies that independent filmmakers can use when speaking “truth to power.”

  • Harlo Holmes (Freedom of the Press Foundation)
  • Katie Townsend (Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press)
  • Sam Gregory (WITNESS)
  • Moderated by Carrie Lozano (IDA Enterprise Fund)

7:30pm – 9:30pm (Steel House, Rockland)
Cryptoparty! (or: The Internet Ain’t What It Used to Be)
Co-presented by Steel House
From all-powerful platforms to hackers and government surveillance, it’s a scary, confusing digital world out there — but we’re here to make fighting back with encryption a little more fun. Join security expert Harlo Holmes and other special guests for pizza, beer and an informal, hands-on exploration of principles and tools you can use to protect your privacy and your work in the age of digital communications.

  • Harlo Holmes (Director of Newsroom Digital Security at Freedom of the Press Foundation)
  • Chelsea Barabas (Head of Social Innovation, Digital Currency Initiative at MIT Media Lab)
  • Sam Gregory (Program Director, WITNESS)


Six teams of filmmakers selected for CIFF’s Points North Fellowship pitch their feature-length works-in-progress to a distinguished panel of funders, broadcasters and producers. Each pitch lasts exactly 7 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of critical feedback. Filmmakers have an opportunity to win the Points North Pitch Award, which includes a $10,000 post-production package from Modulus Studios.

Saturday, September 17, 10am — Camden Opera House

This event is free and open to the public.

Learn More


In an intimate workshop setting, acclaimed documentary directors, producers and editors discuss their work, inspiration and creative approach to story structure, character development and more. Past participants include Marshall Curry (POINT AND SHOOT), Robb Moss (SECRECY), Andrea Meditch (MAN ON WIRE), Mary Lampson (HARLAN COUNTY USA), Jonathan Oppenheim (THE OATH), Kate Amend (THE CASE AGAINST 8), David Teague (CUTIE AND THE BOXER) and Alexandre Brachet (Upian).


Alice Apley

Executive Director, Documentary Educational Resources

Sara Archambault

Program Director, LEF Foundation

Jameka Autry

Production Manager, Cinereach

Violeta Ayala


Nels Bangerter

Editor, Independent

Jon Bardin

Senior Director, Documentaries and Specials, Discovery

Carla Borras

Director of Digital Video, Frontline PBS

Daniel Chalfen

Founder / Producer, Naked Edge Films

Lisa Kleiner Chanoff

Co-Founder, Catapult Film Fund

Charlotte Cook

Co-Founder, Field of Vision

Joseph Ellsworth

Production Manager, CFC Media Lab

Kristin Feeley

Director, Labs and Artist Support Programs, Sundance Institute

Ina Fichman

President/Producer, Intuitive Pictures

Jason Fox

Editor, World Records

Maxyne Franklin

Director, Doc Society

Leah Giblin

Head of Grants, Cinereach

Sam Gregory

Program Director, WITNESS

Mark Grieco

Director, A River Below

Amy Halpin

Director of Filmmaker Services, International Documentary Association

Ryan Harrington

Acting Director of Industry Programs, Hot Docs

Harlo Holmes

Director of Newsroom Digital Security, Freedom of the Press Foundation

Eric Hynes

Freelance Journalist / Associate Curator of Film, Museum of the Moving Image

Tabitha Jackson

Director, Documentary Film Program, Sundance Institute

Steve James

Director, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Sabaah Jordan

Ernst Karel

Sound Designer

Jason Kohn


Carrie Lozano

Director, Enterprise Documentary Fund, International Documentary Association

Jennifer MacArthur

Founder/Producer/Strategist, Borderline Media

Elise McCave

Director of Narrative Film, Kickstarter

Cara Mertes

Program Director, Ford Foundation

Jacquelyn Mills

Director, IN THE WAVES

Molly Murphy

Co-Director, Working Films

Monika Navarro

Senior Manager of Content + Initiatives, ITVS

Marie Nelson

Vice President of News & Independent Film, PBS

Brian Newman

Founder, Sub-Genre

Molly O'Brien

Chief Business Development Officer, Fork Films

Sierra Pettengill

Co-Director, The Reagan Show

Winslow Porter

Director and Co-Founder, New Reality Co

Jose Rodriguez

Director, Documentary Programs, Tribeca Film Institute

Lee Anne Schmitt

Director, Purge This Land

Pamela Torno

Supervising Producer of Digital Initiatives, ITVS

Katie Townsend

Litigation Director, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Jeff Unay

Director, The Cage Fighter

John Van Wyck

Creative Executive, Cinereach

Caroline von Kuhn

Director, Artist Development, SFFILM


Joe Bini
Joe BiniEditor
Alice Apley
Alice ApleyExecutive Director, Documentary Educational Resources
Sara Archambault
Sara ArchambaultProgram Director, LEF Foundation
Carla Borras
Carla BorrasSeries Coordinating Producer, Frontline
Iyabo Boyd
Iyabo BoydFounder, Feedback Loop
Josh Braun
Josh BraunCo President, Submarine
 Daniel Chalfen
Daniel ChalfenCo-Founder/Producer, Naked Edge Films
Steve Cohen
Steve CohenCo-Founder, Chicago Media Project
Charlotte Cook
Charlotte CookCo-Creator, Field of Vision
Liz Cook
Liz CookDirector of Documentaries, Kickstarter
Vesna Cudic
Vesna CudicHead of International Sales and Acquisitions, Dogwoof
Abby Davis
Abby DavisVice President, Non-Fiction Content, Preferred Content
Ezra Edelman
Ezra EdelmanDirector, O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA
Kristin Feeley
Kristin FeeleyDirector, Labs and Artist Support Programs, Sundance Institute
Paula Froehle
Paula FroehleCo-Founder, Chicago Media Project
Peter Gerard
Peter GerardVP of Content Distribution, Vimeo
Leah Giblin
Leah GiblinGrants Manager, Creative Initiatives, Cinereach
Julie Goldman
Julie GoldmanProducer, Motto Pictures
Ryan Harrington
Ryan HarringtonDirector, Acquisitions | Docs & Specials, Discovery
Amy Hobby
Amy HobbyVice President, Artist Programs, Tribeca Film Institute
 Lisa Kleiner Chanoff
Lisa Kleiner ChanoffCo-Founder, Catapult Film Fund
 Lyda Kuth
Lyda KuthExecutive Director, LEF Foundation
Andrea Meditch
Andrea MeditchFounding President, Back Allie Films Entertainment
Jennifer Macarthur
Jennifer MacarthurImpact Producer, Borderline Media
Molly Murphy
Molly MurphyCo-Director, Working Films
Dominic Musacchio
Dominic MusacchioCo-Executive Producer, VICE
Heidi Nel
Heidi NelPresident - Washington DC, Picture Motion
Brian Newman
Brian NewmanConsultant, Sub-Genre
Elizabeth Radshaw
Elizabeth RadshawIndustry Programs Director, Hot Docs
Jenny Raskin
Jenny RaskinVP for Development & Filmmaker Relations, Impact Partners
Greg Rhem
Greg RhemDirector, HBO Documentary Films
Jeff Seelbach
Jeff SeelbachSenior Producer, First Look Media
Ben C. Solomon
Ben C. SolomonInternational Video Journalist, New York Times
Hugues Sweeney
Hugues SweeneyExecutive Producer, National Film Board of Canada Interactive Studio
Linzee Troubh
Linzee TroubhHead of Sales, Cinetic
Chris White
Chris WhiteExecutive Producer, POV
Jenni Wolfson
Jenni WolfsonExecutive Director, Chicken & Egg Pictures



Send this to a friend

Hi, this may be interesting you: Points North Forum! This is the link: https://pointsnorthinstitute.org/artist-programs/points-north-forum/