A whole lot has changed around the world since we started putting together our fourth year of DocLands. In a relatively short period of time, our worldview has shifted dramatically in the wake of a global pandemic, but in many ways, it has also reaffirmed our mission in the importance of finding incredible films that cover the spectrum of our human experience. These gifted filmmakers have captured relevant stories and ideas that are artistic, inquisitive, and thought-provoking, and we knew we had to bring them to you in whatever way we can.

At last year’s DocLands, 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. Heartening and inspirational films like David Hambridge’s Kifaru and Richard Ladkani’s Sea of Shadows brought global concerns to the cinema and inspired audiences to engage beyond the screen, showcasing the strength and power documentaries hold in the world of 24-hour news cycles and never-ending sound bites. This year is no different. Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, and Eli Despres’ The Fight centers on the people who have been tirelessly standing up for our civil liberties in the U.S.: the hard-working, headstrong lawyers who make up the ACLU. Christopher Smith’s Current Sea and Ralf Wuerth’s Swarm Intelligence bring to light the struggles and triumphs made by ocean activists from different parts of the world.

Word has clearly gotten around about DocPitch, as the applicants keep getting stronger with each year. This year at DocLands, we’re thrilled to showcase four films—Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple’s Five Years North, Sanjay Rawal’s Gather, Yael Bridge’s Socialism: An American Story, and Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham’s Crip Campthat all received funding through previous DocPitch forums, and lucky audience members will get the chance to see how incredible the finished products have turned out. All four films together paint a powerful, diverse, and detailed mosaic of life in the United States today through underrepresented voices who are given a platform to share their vital stories. 

Events of this nature and size require a dedicated crew to make it all come to life (especially when extraordinary circumstances arrive without warning), so I’d like to issue an enormous thank you to everyone who helped bring DocLands into its fourth year: our incredible, devoted staff, led by our director of programming, Joni Cooper; our enthusiastic volunteer board of directors; our generous donors and sponsors; our engaged and excited audiences; and as always, the visionary filmmakers whose work brings us together and calls us to action.

Mark Fishkin
Executive Director / Founder, California Film Institute