An acclaimed and award-winning filmmaker will help guide you with your work-in-progress.

There are no available registration dates at this time.

Sep 27-Oct 1, 2021  (Immediately following The Camden International Film Festival)

Students in the Documentary Master Class will also receive a Virtual Pass to The Camden International Film Festival!
Details below.

Spend a week with acclaimed and award-winning filmmaker Jessica Beshir whose latest film “Faya Dayi” premiered at Sundance earlier this year, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. The film has gone on to win awards and widespread praise. Criterion Channel president Peter Becker called it “shot for shot, one of the most gorgeously cinematic films we’ve ever seen.”

The rise of both long and short form documentaries is evidenced by their increased presence in film festivals, theaters, on broadcast outlets, streaming platforms, and on the web.


This one week master class is for filmmakers and students who want to sharpen their work with the mentoring of a master documentary filmmaker. The class will specifically address how to improve works-in-progress. The work-in-progress can be in a written format (proposal, treatment, script) or a film that is already in production or editing. Projects can be either long or short form. They will be discussed as a group and, as needed, in individual sessions with the instructor.

The class will consider conceptualization, development, research, how to focus the story and structure, scripted and non-scripted storytelling, ethics, interviewing as relationship, how to balance multiple stories, and much more. You will also go deep into the dynamics of launching and financing a project: crafting a pitch and logline, synopses, treatments, key production elements, budgeting, and identifying funding resources and distribution opportunities. Work by the instructor and other documentarians will be analyzed.

In addition to their work-in-progress, students are welcome and encouraged to bring one of their finished films to screen for critique and discussion. You will also have the opportunity for one-on-one sessions with the instructor. By week’s end, participants will have re-evaluated and improved their projects, and enriched their palette with tips and guidelines from this accomplished filmmaker.

All images: Jessica Beshir

The Documentary Master Class immediately follows THE CAMDEN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. This workshop was created in partnership with CIFF and will include a Virtual Pass to access to all feature and short films screenings on our online festival platform. Recognized as one of the top 12 documentary film festivals in the world, CIFF brings the finest nonfiction cinema to the coast of Maine, showcasing over 80 documentary feature and short films from around the globe each fall. CIFF’s Virtual Festival will run from September 16-26, and will provide audiences the opportunity to screen our slate of feature and short films from the comfort of your own home (or screen) at any time. 

NOTE: This class will be held in a live, online format using the Zoom Platform. 
Class will meet 1-5 pm EDT plus one-on-one time with instructor by appointment

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Instructor: Jessica Beshir

JESSICA BESHIR is an award-winning Mexican-Ethiopian director, cinematographer and producer. Her latest film “Faya Dayi” premiered earlier this year at Sundance, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. She made her directorial debut with her short film “Hairat,” which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and was released by the Criterion Channel, Topic, and The Atlantic. Her short films “He Who Dances on Wood” (PBS) and “Heroin” (Topic) have have screened in festivals and museums around the world including Hot Docs, Rotterdam International Film Festival, IDFA, Tribeca Film Festival, the Eye Film Museum, and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, among others.  She is a recipient of the Sundance documentary fellowship, Jerome Foundation, Doha Film Institute and NYSCA artist fellowships. She received her B.A in film studies and literature at UCLA.