Camden International Film Festival Founder Ben Fowlie to Step Down Most Popular Must Read Sign Up for Variety Newsletters More From Our Brands Viral Watch

Ben Fowlie, executive and artistic director of the Points North Institute and founder of Camden Intl. Film Festival, is stepping down from his position after 20 years with the organization. Longtime board member Rick Rector will serve as interim executive director until a search for a permanent replacement is completed.

Now based in London, Fowlie conceived CIFF, a Maine documentary film festival, in 2004; the inaugural fest took place a year later. In 2016, Fowlie co-founded the Points North Institute, which produces the annual September fest, with Sean Flynn and Caroline von Kuhn. In the last decade CIFF has become a key campaign spot for documentaries seeking Oscar recognition. Last year, Madeleine Gavin’s “Beyond Utopia,” which in December was shortlisted for the best feature documentary Oscar, opened CIFF. 

In 2009 Fowlie created the Points North Forum, a doc-focused conference program. The following year he implemented the Points North Fellowship and Pitch, which aims to strengthen filmmakers’ artistic voices and propel their careers forward by facilitating new relationships with mentors, collaborators and funders. Most recently Fowlie established the Diane Weyermann Fellowship, and the Pretty Wild Fellowship with YETI.

“After twenty incredible years building this organization from the ground up, it’s the right time for me to step down,” says Fowlie, who declined to provide information about any future career plans he might have. “Leading our efforts to establish a home for independent documentary film, while collaborating with so many inspiring filmmakers and partners, has been an honor. I am excited about my next chapter, and look forward to witnessing Points North’s extraordinary staff build on its strong foundation and flourish for decades to come.”

As CIFF’s umbrella organization, Points North Institute supports the next generation of nonfiction storytellers. Programs include CIFF, Points North Forum, as well as a year-round calendar of artist development initiatives that nurture the careers of diverse nonfiction storytellers.

Points North Institute appointed Rector to the interim executive director post. Rector has served on the board for more than a decade, including as board chair through the launch of the Points North Institute. Points North co-founder and program director Sean Flynn will continue his long-standing leadership of artist programs and fellowships, with an expanded role overseeing the 20th Camden Intl. Film Festival. Points North co-founder Caroline von Kuhn remains as board chair.

“It’s remarkable to reflect on Ben’s incredible tenure and a testament to his legacy that he leaves Points North Institute at this time of growth,” says von Kuhn.

Rector praises the staff and supportive board as “a tribute to Ben and the strength of PNI. We’re well positioned to continue our growth.”

Points North Institute will undertake a search for the next executive director later this year.

“Rooted firmly in Ben’s audacious vision for a small-town film festival with global reach, we will continue building a vibrant community of artists and audiences to celebrate the documentary form,” says Flynn. “We will champion artistic freedom and innovation and promote the critical role of independent documentary in a democratic society. More than ever, we’ll continue to connect filmmakers with the resources and opportunities they need to tell their stories on their own terms.”

The 20th Camden Intl. Film Festival will be held in Camden, Rockport and Rockland, Me., beginning on Sept. 12, 2024. The  festival will run concurrently with Points North Artist Programs, a fellowship that supports early- and mid-career filmmakers.

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