Filmmakers from DocLands 2020 in conversation with Variety’s Sr. Features Writer, Andrew Barker. Preview trailers, learn more about each film and participate in an interactive virtual Q&A with filmmakers live via the Variety Streaming Room.
During the extraordinary circumstances we’re currently experiencing, we hope this 90-minute event will help showcase films that haven’t yet had public screenings or exposure beyond Sundance this year, and will prompt engaging conversations, as well as an exciting exchange of ideas between the filmmakers, moderator Andrew Barker, and our streaming audience.
On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti and changed millions of lives. International aid workers descended on Haiti to help in any way they could. One of those people driven to help was American actor and filmmaker Sean Penn. Citizen Penn chronicles the moment Penn and his team of volunteers landed in Haiti just days after the earthquake and the decade since. This documentary delivers unparalleled access to one of America’s most polarizing figures and offers audiences an intimate, honest, and self-reflective look into the triumphs and challenges of a man who decided to do something. He got involved in a way few activists ever will. Viewers can decide for themselves whether Haiti is better off for it.
DIRECTOR: DON HARDY
DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD
Dick Johnson is perhaps the most beloved grandpa in New York City. However, the retired psychiatrist is 86 and reaching his final years. As a catalyst to confront the inevitable, his daughter — award-winning documentarian Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson) — devises an ingenious experiment: celebrate Dr. Johnson’s life by staging fantasies of death and beyond. Utilizing moviemaking magic and their family’s dark humor, dad and daughter confront the great inevitability awaiting us all.
DIRECTOR: KIRSTEN JOHNSON
Through poignant stories from tribes across the U.S., director Sanjay Rawal (Food Chains) explores the growing food sovereignty movement among Native Americans that is a direct response to the appropriation and decimation of their food and health and showcasing how Native Americans are reclaiming control of their ancestral food systems and in the process restoring their cultural well-being.
DIRECTOR: SANJAY RAWAL
JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE
MAGNOLIA PICTURES / PARTICIPANT, CNN FILMS
Few living Americans have fought as hard or endured as much for the sake of our democracy and civil rights as Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. Mixing riveting archival footage alongside contemporary interviews with a new generation of leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bay Area filmmaker Dawn Porter (Trapped) creates a moving tribute to the multifaceted and down-to-earth congressman, who balances his fiery determination with humor and general human decency.
DIRECTOR: DAWN PORTER
A Magnolia Pictures/Participant release. Executive produced by CNN Films, AGC Studios and Time Studios.
Focusing on the eminent destruction of the Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota, the downsizing of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, and the wholesale appropriation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, director David Garrett Byars enlists a slew of journalists, land historians, tribal leaders, and government whistleblowers to present a highly persuasive argument that is impossible to ignore and vital to hear. Above all else, as executive producer Robert Redford tells us, “Public Trust is the story of citizens who are fighting back. It’s a much-needed wake-up call for all of us who want to preserve our unique and wild cultural heritage.”
DIRECTOR: DAVID GARRETT BYARS
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: YVON CHOUINARD, ROBERT REDFORD
THE SOCIAL DILEMMA
Big Tech is listening, watching… and manipulating. In this timely, provocative new film, award-winning filmmaker Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Coral, Chasing Ice) sounds the alarm, calling for immediate individual and collective action while showcasing experts on the frontlines of these issues in a riveting story-driven approach that is bound to have far-reaching consequences. Surprisingly, the main critics are many of the very same engineers and tech executives who created these platforms in the first place.
DIRECTOR: JEFF ORLOWSKI
SOCIALISM: AN AMERICAN STORY
Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign brought unprecedented focus on the notion of socialism in the context of the United States. Since then, socialists have won seats in both houses of Congress while others equate socialism with the totalitarian regimes of South America. This thorough, thoughtful, and engaging film tracks the history of socialism in America and dispels many of the myths that are so often promulgated in public discourse.
DIRECTOR: YAEL BRIDGE
Fox Rich is a fighter. The entrepreneur, activist, and mother of six boys has spent the last two decades campaigning for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year sentence for a robbery they both committed long ago in a moment of desperation. Combining the video diaries Fox has recorded for Rob over the years with intimate glimpses into her present-day life, director Garrett Bradley paints a mesmerizing portrait of the resilience and radical love necessary to prevail over the endless separations of the prison-industrial-complex —a legacy of slavery in America.
DIRECTOR: GARRETT BRADLEY