Ben Fowlie, founder of the Camden International Film Festival, is departing as executive and artistic director of the Points North Institute, the nonprofit that produces the highly-respected documentary festival in coastal Maine.
Rick Rector, a board member of the Points North Institute, has been appointed PNI’s interim executive director in Fowlie’s stead. Fowlie, in addition to founding the film festival in 2005, established the Points North Institute in 2016, co-founding the nonprofit with Sean Flynn and Caroline von Kuhn.
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Von Kuhn will remain as PNI board chair and Flynn will continue to lead PNI’s artist programs and fellowships and expand his role to oversee the upcoming 20th Camden International Film Festival, set for September 12-15, 2024.
“After twenty incredible years building this organization from the ground up, it’s the right time for me to step down,” Fowlie said in a statement. “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.”
In 2023, Fowlie relocated to London with his family. In a release, PNI hailed his achievements, noting Fowlie has overseen “the organization’s expansion into a globally recognized festival and a launching pad for independent talent, the creation of the Points North Forum in 2009, the Points North Fellowship and Pitch in 2010, and recently, the establishment of the Diane Weyermann Fellowship, and the Pretty Wild Fellowship with YETI.”
In a statement, von Kuhn said, “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. We’re thrilled to have PNI co-founder Sean Flynn take on a greater leadership role and Rick Rector take the helm as interim Executive Director.”
The Points North Institute said it will begin a search for a permanent executive director later this year. “We’re well positioned to continue our growth,” said Rector, the interim ED. “I’m very excited to step into this interim role at an organization I’ve worked with over many years. The excellent staff and supportive board are a tribute to Ben and the strength of PNI.”
In its 20 years of existence, the Camden International Film Festival has become a top destination for some of the biggest names in documentary filmmaking, including Alex Gibney, Laura Poitras, Dawn Porter, Karim Amer, Chris Smith, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, as well as supporting up and coming talents through PNI’s programs.
Looking ahead to the 20th anniversary festival, Flynn said, “As we enter this milestone year, Points North’s commitment to supporting filmmakers is stronger than ever. 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. 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.”
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