Preview of Science Films at CIFF

The Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) returns to venues across Camden and Rockland, Maine from September 14–17, showcasing documentaries from around the world. The festival’s 19th edition will be a hybrid format: cinephiles within the United States can enjoy a selection of virtual screenings from the festival slate September 18–25. We have rounded up the 13 science and technology-themed projects to look out for, with descriptions excerpted from the festival’s programmers.

Highlights include Brian Becker and Marley McDonald’s TIME BOMB Y2K, which explores the famed, theoretical, computer glitch that threatened the turn of the millennium. The film, for which the directors made an open call for home videos from 12/31/99, will be entirely archival. HBO produced the feature and is slated to release it later this year.

Among the selection below, S&F also recommends Ian Cheney’s Maine-set THE ARC OF OBLIVION, which returns to its home state after successful world and international premieres at SXSW and CPH:DOX. For more on the film, read our interview with Cheney from CPH: DOX.

Sloan Science & Film will be covering CIFF, so stay tuned for features and more interviews on many of the titles below.


THE ARC OF OBLIVION. Dir. Ian Cheney. “THE ARC OF OBLIVION explores a quirk of humankind: in a universe that erases its tracks, we humans are hellbent on leaving a mark. Set against the backdrop of the filmmaker's quixotic quest to build an ark in a field in Maine, the film heads far afield to illuminate the strange world of archives, record-keeping, and memory.”

Still from THE ARC OF OBLIVION. Courtesy of CIFF.

THE CONTESTANT. Dir. Clair Titley. “The incredible true story of a man who lived for 15 months trapped inside a small room, naked, starving and alone... and completely unaware that his life was being broadcast on national TV in Japan, to over 15 million viewers a week.”

FAUNA. Dir. Pau Faus. “A science fiction fable about humans and animals, FAUNA is the story of two worlds, seemingly antagonistic, that end up being two sides of the same coin. Two intertwined stories that illustrate the complex relationship between humans and nature.”

Still from FAUNA. Courtesy of CIFF.

GRASSHOPPER REPUBLIC. Dir. Daniel Mccabe. “Filmed over the course of three seasons, GRASSHOPPER REPUBLIC follows a local grasshopper trapping team in verité style, as these modern-day prospectors push into remote forests seeking their fortune by capturing this elusive prey.”

A HAWK AS BIG AS A HORSE. Dir. Sasha Kulak. North American Premiere. “Lydia a queer ornithologist who lives in Shcherbinka, embarks on remaking David Lynch’s TWIN PEAKS, and decides to create Lara, a life-size silicone doll she has been made from scratch.”

IN THE SHADOW OF LIGHT. Dir. Ignacia Merino Bustos, Isabel Reyes Bustos. North American Premiere. “In a small town in Chile, rural life deals with the electric grid that provides power to the rest of the country. In the darkness, the threatening presence of the large-scale industrial complex reveals the workings of an unequal system.”

KNIT’S ISLAND. Dir. Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse, Quentin L'helgoualc'h. North American Premiere. “In the guise of avatars, a film crew enters an online video game. They come into contact with a community of players and meet their stories, fears, and aspirations.”

ONE WITH THE WHALE. Dir. Peter Chelkowski, Jim Wickens. World Premiere. “A heartwarming, yet thrilling tale of an Alaskan family’s struggle to recover from animal activists’ online assaults against their teenage son, the youngest person to ever harpoon a whale for his village.”

REJEITO (TAILINGS). Dir. Pedro de Filippis. US Premiere. “After the largest mining dam breaks in history, further dam collapses threaten millions in Brazil. A state counselor confronts the modus operandi of the government, while dam refugees resist the abuses of the mining companies in their threatened communities.”

TIME BOMB Y2K. Dir. Brian Becker, Marley McDonald. “As the clock counts down to the dawn of the new millennium, America is forced to contend with the largest technological disaster to ever threaten humanity. Crafted entirely through archival footage, TIME BOMB Y2K examines how we grapple with existential threats in an increasingly technological world.”

Still from TIME BOMB Y2K. Courtesy of CIFF.


EARTHEARTHEARTH. Dir. Daïchi Saïto. “Dawn breaks where land is flesh And bones’ echoes; You’ve lived through extinctions – Stars, skies, sand and seas; Future is catching us up at last, And all the dead are ahead of us.”

FORAGER. Dir. Winslow Porter, Elie Zananiri. “FORAGER is a multisensory mixed reality experience. Using sight, sound, touch and scent, you will experience the complete life-cycle of fungi: spores, mycelium, fruiting body, and the inevitable...”

STRATA: A PERFORMANCE OF TOPOGRAPHY. Dir. Alexander Porter, Hannah Jayanti. “A live-edited documentary performance that traverses a vast terrain without leaving a tiny patch of land.”

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