Points North Forum2020-10-01T12:41:27-04:00


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 masterclasses that help independent documentary filmmakers advance their projects in concrete, meaningful ways.

The 2020 Points North Forum is made possible with support from Showtime Documentary Films, the National Endowment for the Arts, Ford Foundation, CNN Films, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, A&E Indie Films, Netflix, GBH World Channel, ESPN, LEF Foundation, National Geographic Documentary Films, the MAE Private Foundation, and Concordia.

This year’s Points North Forum is accessible through our Virtual Festival Program. All Forum sessions are free public events! Advance registration is required.

Explore the Program


Friday, September 13

11am – 12:30am (Tucker Room)
Audiences & Power: How to Watch a Doc
A conversation accompanied by film clips, in which critics, programmers, and filmmakers outline the ethics and esthetics of how audiences can decipher ways power is manifest in well-known nonfiction films, and raise questions that can help us to engage more actively with stories from near and far.
Tayler Montague (Reverse Shot)
Devika Girish (Film Comment)
Robb Moss
Moderator: Samara Chadwick (Points North Institute)

12pm – 1:30pm (French Room)
Producing for Public Media
Presented by WORLD Channel | WGBH
In a rapidly-changing distribution and funding landscape, the public media system has remained one of the most accessible platforms for documentaries to find funding and reach diverse audiences. In this panel, leading executives give an overview of how to navigate the broadcast strands, stations, and funds that make public media such a robust platform for independent filmmakers.

  • Noland Walker (ITVS)
  • Carmen Vicencio (American Documentary | America ReFramed)
  • Pamela Torno (ITVS)
  • Chris Hastings (World Channel | WGBH)

1:30pm – 3:00pm (Tucker Room)
Subjects & Power: Director’s Commentary
We tend to gravitate towards stories of redemption and heroes who uphold our worldviews. But reality is often much more nuanced, and subjects have much at stake by participating in the filmmaking process. CIFF 2019 filmmakers play select scenes from their gorgeous and surprising films, and discuss ethical tensions that arose, how they handled them, and questions they wish they’d asked themselves in advance.

  • Elke Margarete Lehrenkrauss (LOVEMOBIL)
  • Ezequiel Yanco, Ana Godoy (LA VIDA EN COMÚN)
  • Sam Ellison (CHÈCHE LAVI)

2pm – 3:30pm (French Room)
Documentary Law
Film attorneys Paul Szynol (director/producer “The Pull,” “Quiet Hours”) and Matt Rogers, partners at Brooklyn-based Rogers & Szynol, present an overview of legal issues faced by documentary filmmakers during the production cycle–from intellectual property licensing and fair use to collaborator contracts, investment strategies, and distribution. Includes extensive Q&A session.

  • Paul Szynol
  • Matt Rogers

3:30pm – 5pm (Tucker Room)
Reality & Power: Can Documentary Make Space?
Featuring a trio of artistically ambitious and politically evocative nonfiction filmmakers, this screening of clips and discussion hinges on two questions: How can the field of documentary make space for historically marginalized perspectives? And, can nonfiction cinema help us build more just, more honest, and more equitable spaces, or is the role of documentary to faithfully represent the world as it is?

  • Brett Story (THE HOTTEST AUGUST)
  • Sky Hopinka (LORE)
  • Moderator: Jason Fox (World Records)

4pm – 5pm (French Room)
Designing the Immersive Documentary
Presented by Maine Media Workshops + College
In this conversation, Alvaro Morales and Alex Suber discuss the tools, techniques, and design principles they employ to create evocative and poetic immersive documentary experiences.

  • Alex Suber (LUX SINE)
  • Alvaro Morales (HOME WITH AMÉRICA)

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 14

10:00am – 12:30pm (Camden Opera House Auditorium)
Points North Pitch
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 the 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 constructive feedback.

This year, you can show your support for the Points North Fellows by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign. Just ask a volunteer for the Points North Pitch pledge card!


  • Callie Barlow (RYOT)
  • Maxyne Franklin (Doc Society)
  • Leah Giblin (Cinereach)
  • Chris Hastings (World Channel | WGBH)
  • Carrie Lozano (International Documentary Association)
  • Monika Navarro (Tribeca Film Institute)
  • Enrique Pedraza-Botero (Sundance Institute)
  • Tracy Rector (Nia Tero)
  • Carmen Vicencio (American Documentary | America ReFramed)\
  • Noland Walker (ITVS)
  • Moderated by Brian Newman (Sub Genre)

1:30pm – 3pm (French Room)
Story & Community: A Conversation with Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar
Presented by Vermont College of Fine Arts
For decades, Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar have been making powerful and intimate films that chronicle the changing fabric of American life, often focusing on stories and people in their home state, Ohio. In this wide-ranging discussion, they will share lessons from this impressive body of work — including the critically acclaimed AMERICAN FACTORY — and reflect on the process of telling stories deeply rooted in community.

  • Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert (AMERICAN FACTORY)

1:30 – 3pm (Tucker Room)
Story & Relinquishing Power: Director’s Commentary
Many films in this year’s program were tangibly transformed by the process of production – they are works that seemingly set out to tell a specific story and allowed themselves to be completely rerouted by the people and the processes of the shoot. In a tribute to the value of patient observation and active listening, we invite these filmmakers to discuss the moments that shook them, and how they went about reimagining new forms of narrative beyond conventional tropes.

  • Vytautas Puidokas (EL PADRE MÉDICO)
  • Lucie Viver (SANKARA IS NOT DEAD)
  • Moderator: Juan Pablo González (CABALLERANGO)

3:30pm – 5pm (Tucker Room)
Unspoken Realities: A Conversation with Ja’Tovia Gary & Whitney Dow
Ja’Tovia Gary and Whitney Dow’s works both interrogate racial identity and power through seemingly simple but rarely asked questions: Do you feel safe in your body? How do you understand your own whiteness? In this conversation moderated by Sabaah Folayan (WHOSE STREETS?), two CIFF directors explore how new documentary forms might expand our capacities to talk about and confront racial injustice.

  • Moderator: Sabaah Folayan

Sunday, September 15

11:00am – 12:30pm (Rockport Opera House)
Past is Present: APOLLO 11 Editing Master Class
Presented by NEON
Todd Douglas Miller’s APOLLO 11 is one of the year’s most critically acclaimed documentaries and a masterpiece of all-archival filmmaking. In this moderated conversation, featuring clips from the film, Miller will share the story of how he and his team unearthed 65mm NASA footage of the mission and constructed a visceral cinematic experience of an historic event.

  • Todd Douglas Miller (APOLLO 11)
  • Moderator: Robb Moss


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).



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



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