Connecting at Camden

Lissa Deonarain • September 27, 2022

This year, we kicked off our Black Directors and Sustainable Artist Fellowships by bringing eight of our eleven fellows to the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) in Camden, ME. CIFF has long been a hub for artist programs, which provided us the perfect opportunity to have pre-festival retreat space as we all met for the first time.

2022 Fellows at CIFF

As not just an organization, but also a community, having our members build meaningful relationships with each other is a core component of our work. The first few days before the festival, we got to know each other outside of our roles as fellows and BGDM staff while slipping in some classic Maine experiences. We explored the quaint towns of Rockland and Camden, took a beautiful hike through the woods, went on a private sail with some other BGDM members at the festival, and relaxed on a classic, rocky, Northeastern beach.


At the artist program luncheon, we were able to connect with our fellow BGDM Mafiosxs at the festival, other artist programs like our friends at Points North and Nia Tero, and the team that makes CIFF possible.

The BGDM grants team did an incredible job of making an already small and intimate festival an immersive and collective experience for our cohort by building out a jam packed and well rounded schedule for us. As a cohort, we attended different panels on funding, editing and accountability, and watched BGDM films like Descendant, What We Leave Behind, and Subject. While we had time to choose our own adventures, the ability to come together, share these experiences and discuss what we took away from each session gave us an even deeper level of insight into who we are as a group. One thing we did spare our fellows from was pitching at the infamous, hours-long, gladiator-style Points North Pitch Forum that many other artist programs do, opting to watch from the audience instead to ease them into their fellowships.


Throughout the week, special guests came to speak to our group in an intimate setting. Kristin Feeley from Sundance came to share her insight about artist support programs, and Emma D. Miller and Iliana Sosa (a BGDM member), came to speak about director/producer relationships based on their work together on What We Leave Behind. Bringing these curated industry connections to our fellows is one of the pillars of how we support them through their year-long program.

In true BGDM fashion, we couldn’t go to a festival without having a BGDM meetup, even if it was impromptu and casual! We called together our community to join us for some drinks and huddle up around a nice warm fire pit. Even though all our fantastic fellows were not able to make it, we hope for everyone to come together in person in the near future, and to continue building with each other online.

Casual BGDM Meetup at CIFF

Lissa Deonarain
Lissa Deonarain

Lissa Deonarain (she/they) is a queer, disabled, multiracial Guyanese-American documentary filmmaker, editor, communications specialist and producer. She has produced films around the world, and worked with award-winning directors.