All Systems Go For Maine’s Camden International Film Festival Despite Post-Tropical Cyclone Lee – Update

UPDATE: Power was restored to the Camden Opera House as of Sunday morning — and sunshine was restored to coast Maine. Today’s screenings at festival venues are proceeding as per normal; the Sunday lineup of screenings at the opera house, where power had gone out on Saturday, includes Dawn Porter’s The Lady Bird Diaries and The Arc of Oblivion, directed by Ian Cheney. The in-person portion of the festival wraps today; the virtual component runs from Sept. 18-25.

UPDATE: CIFF Executive and Artistic Director Ben Fowlie and Board Chair Caroline von Kuhn sent a message to festivalgoers this afternoon, thanking them for their “patience and support as we navigate the impacts that weather and power outages have had on our programs.” The message noted, “When the power went out at the Camden Opera House this morning at the beloved Points North Pitch, the standing ovation for the Points North Fellows that followed as they introduced themselves with a bullhorn in a totally dark Opera House exemplified this community’s dedication to the Points North Fellows and what we are all building here… rain or shine.”

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UPDATE: Power is out at the Camden Opera House in Maine, one of the primary screening venues for the Camden International Film Festival, as Post-Tropical Cyclone Lee lashes the state. The outage has caused the cancelation of screenings at the opera house, including the U.S. premiere of Alex Gibney’s documentary In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon. Strata: A Performance of Topography, scheduled for the French Room of the Camden Opera House, also was cancelled. The festival says it is trying to reschedule the performance for Sunday.

“If we can resume screenings, we’ll communicate an updated schedule,” the festival emailed attendees shortly after 2 p.m. local time. If the power isn’t restored, the scheduled 7:30 p.m. screening of A Storm Foretold will be cancelled as well.

EARLIER: Organizers of the Camden International Film Festival in coastal Maine are moving ahead with regular programming today, as Hurricane Lee – downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone – aims further north towards Nova Scotia.

The festival, which attracts many of the biggest names in documentary film, sent out a notice to attendees this morning that noted key venues will be running as planned. “Like you, we are anxiously watching the weather,” the bulletin from CIFF said. “We are happy to share this update with you: The Camden Opera House is open and the Points North Pitch is on! The Strand is open and all screenings are on! Journey’s End is open and all screenings are on!”

The notice went on to say, “We will be suspending our regular line policy for the day and letting folks in as they arrive to keep things moving and get everyone out of the weather ASAP.”

There had been fears as Hurricane Lee churned in the Atlantic that it might wash out events at the 19th edition of the prestigious festival, a program of the Points North Institute. Today’s screenings include In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon, with Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney in person; Eastern Front, a documentary about the Russia-Ukraine war, with co-director Vitaly Mansky in person; A Storm Foretold, about Trump whisperer Roger Stone and his machinations leading up to the January 6 insurrection, with director Christoffer Guldbransen in person; and Apolonia, Apolonia, the IDFA-prize winning film, with director Lea Glob in person.

A tree limb downed by Post-Tropical Cyclone Lee in Rockport, Maine.
A tree limb downed by Post-Tropical Cyclone Lee in Rockport, Maine.

Current weather conditions in the Camden area feature rainfall and blustery winds. In the harbors of Camden and Rockport – the two towns that host the bulk of festival activities – many larger boats were pulled from the water in anticipation of Lee’s arrival. Winds began kicking up dramatically Friday night, but that didn’t stop festivalgoers from attending a big party at the Journey’s End venue in Rockport, which abuts the water. Some danced outside in the whipping winds, sporting wireless headsets that piped in music from a DJ located inside the warehouse-sized Journey’s End.

Boats pulled from the water in Rockport, Maine, in anticipation of Hurricane Lee's arrival.
Boats pulled from the water in Rockport, Maine, in anticipation of Hurricane Lee’s arrival.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for New Brunswick from the U.S./Canada border to Point Lepreau, including Grand Manan Island and in Nova Scotia from Digby to Ecum Secum, according to the National Hurricane Center. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Westport Massachusetts northward to the U.S./Canada border, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and into New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Deadline learned a number of festival guests relocated to different hotels or homes as the storm approached, to make sure they had access to generators if power was knocked out.

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