DocLands Launches Fundraising Forum to Aid Filmmakers

Presented by the California Film Institute, the DocLands Documentary Film Festival returns to Marin County for its fifth year, May 7-16, 2021. The ten-day showcase of documentary films will offer both virtual screenings and pre-recorded conversations, as well as a limited number of in-person screenings at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.

In addition to screening 23 feature-length and 13 short documentary films from around the globe, DocLands aims to build an active, involved, and fully supportive community around documentary film with DocPitch, an fundraising initiative designed to aid filmmakers in completing a documentary film project currently in development.  

This year’s DocPitch jury has selected five filmmaking teams from more than 70 submitted projects. Each team will present a virtual verbal pitch and a short trailer that will be available to view by audiences from across the globe.

After viewing the pitches, the audience will decide on one project to receive an Audience Choice Award of $30,000. Following that announcement, an industry jury will present the remaining pitching teams with an additional $40,000 in awards.

This year’s DocPitch opens for audience voting on Friday, April 30, at 10am. Voting ends on May 10 at midnight, and a livestream awards presentation takes place on May 16.

“DocPitch may not be our oldest CFI program, nor our largest, but its impact cannot be denied,” says California Film Institute (CFI) Founder and Executive Director Mark Fishkin in a statemnt. “It was designed to connect documentary filmmakers with an active and essential audience of funders, industry participants and contributors, and film enthusiasts. From its inception, DocPitch has proven to be an important step in bringing these vital stories closer to completion by awarding monies to individual projects currently in development.”

The $70,000 pledge comes from supporters like the Nancy P. & Richard K. Robbins Family Foundation, Project No. 9, and members of the California Film Institute Board of Directors.

“We’re extremely grateful to our funders, donors, and sponsor who support filmmakers through DocPitch in such a generous way, and who see the essential work that filmmakers do, especially during such challenging times,” says DocLands Director of Programming Joni Cooper in a statement. “Despite being another challenging year for filmmakers, this year’s DocPitch submissions included a record number of outstanding projects currently in development and production… from creative filmmakers from across the country and around the world.” 

The five documentary film projects up for awards are Finding the Money, which traces the rise of a controversial new economic theory dubbed “Modern Monetary Theory” or MMT; Higher 15, in which filmmaker Ameha Molla unravels a long-held family secret about his Ethiopian revolutionary uncle; Mom & Dad’s Nipple Factory, about a breast cancer survivor whose husband begins making prosthetic nipples and changes thousands of lives; A Photographic Memory, where-in Rachel Elizabeth Seed attempts to piece together a portrait of her mother, a daring journalist and a woman she never knew; and The Untitled 19th* News Film, which documents the first years of a revolutionary news startup that tells stories centering women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community.

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Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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