When we first conceived of adding another festival to the California Film Institute, we talked about how important documentaries are, particularly in these chaotic times, in a wall of never-ending sound bites. We also talked about the fact that there are so many extraordinary documentaries and that even with the abundance of opportunities to screen them at the Rafael and at the Mill Valley Film Festival, we just don’t have enough programming space to showcase them all. Every day, we are bombarded with “breaking news” stories. However important these stories may be to our lives, they often feel like they are given the same weight and are shoehorned into a never-ending news cycle.

I think the success of the first three years of DocLands proves that we were correct in gauging our audiences’ appetites for documentary filmmaking and storytelling. Last year, audiences got the chance to see 2020’s Academy Award® winner for Documentary Feature, Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar’s American Factory, alongside the opening night world premiere of Bill Gallagher’s Runner. They also got to experience the rousing live act of the Led Zeppelin cover artist Mr. Jimmy after seeing Peter Michael Dowd’s Mr. Jimmy, a documentary portrait of the musician on the DocLands screens.

The films of DocLands allow us to experience important stories in depth. They also enlighten and entertain us. In these ways, DocLands is not just a special collection of films but a way of seeing and hearing the world that can give us a deeper perspective on critical issues and a greater appreciation for the “wonderland” that still surrounds us. DocLands touches us at our core.

Mark Fishkin
Executive Director / Founder, California Film Institute