Volunteer Matt Wall tends to the screen at the Shotwell Drive-In in Rockport in this July 2020 file photo. Credit: Brent Schanding | BDN

CAMDEN, Maine ― Like everything in 2020, this year’s Camden International Film Festival is going to look a bit different. Instead of crowding into midcoast theaters for a weekend of documentaries, film buffs will be able to view films at the organization’s newly built drive-in or from the comfort of their own couch.

The hybrid outdoor-virtual festival will allow the Points North Institute ― the organization behind the festival ― to continue its tradition of bringing people together over nonfiction storytelling, but in a way that keeps people safe during the pandemic.

The festival runs Oct. 1 through Oct. 12. Typically the festival runs four days, but organizers lengthened this year’s schedule to give at-home viewers more time to watch the films, as well as make up for only having one drive-in theater for in-person viewing.

“We have adopted the idea of ‘the show must go on’ and it must go on in a way that is creative and engaging,” Points North Institute Director Ben Fowlie said.

This festival will feature 12 to 15 screenings at the Shotwell Drive-In at 40 West St.in Rockport, which the organization built this summer to host a movie series. Another 60 films will be presented for at-home viewing through Eventive, a streaming platform that allows viewers to watch the films on numerous devices.

Organizers have incorporated both live and pre-taped question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers, and will offer an opportunity for aspiring filmmakers to pitch their ideas.

“We are still able to build that sense of community that is so vital to the fabric of our organization,” Fowlie said.

Films that will be screening this year include, “The Long Coast,” directed by filmmaker Ian Cheney, who lives in midcoast Maine. It explores the connection between the coast and Mainers whose lives are intrinsically reliant on it, as well as how that connection is changing due to problems like warming seas and overfishing.

In another film, “Purple Sea,” Amel Alzakout documents her experience on a boat with other refugees fleeing Syria when it capsized. Alzakout was able to shoot the experience on her cellphone and turn the footage into a 70-minute film.

With 2020 bringing so many of its own challenges, Fowlie said he hopes the festival will give people a chance to step out of their own realities for a period of time.

“It’s the immersiveness of the work this year that is truly profound,” he said. “People want to, I think, have that moment where they can unplug from things and plug into a different way of seeing.”