After ten days of virtual and in-person screenings at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, the 2021 DocLands Documentary Film Festival ended with the awards ceremony. The 2021 DocLands Audience Favorite Award went to Jennifer Abbott for her deeply intimate and thought-provoking feature-length documentary The Magnitude of All Things.
DocLands also announced the winners of the four juried industry awards totaling $40,000 and a $30,000 Audience Choice Award. The awards were distributed Sunday evening, May 16, 2021, through the CFI fundraising initiative DocPitch, designed to aid filmmakers in completing their documentary film projects currently in development, with support from the Nancy P. & Richard K. Robbins Family Foundation, Project No. 9, and members of the California Film Institute Board of Directors.
“Because of Covid, we found ourselves presenting our filmmaker funding initiative DocPitch again in a virtual space. This may seem impersonal, but was incredibly effective,” said Joni Cooper, DocLands Director of Programming. “The cohort of DocPitchers this year was able to reach audiences much further afield than a single live event presented in a theater. It allowed them to ‘shout’ about their projects with greater visibility to reach a much larger pool of supporters funders, distributors, philanthropists, fellow filmmakers, and audiences all of whom showed up to vote but who may also ultimately provide additional support.” Cooper continued, “After the audience votes were carefully verified and tallied, we’re delighted to announce that the $30,000 Audience Choice Award went to director Maren Poitras for her project Finding the Money. An industry jury comprised of Jimmie Briggs of Skoll Foundation, Jon-Sesrie Goff of Ford Foundation, and Carrie Lozano of the Sundance Documentary Program presented the $25,000 Industry Award to directors Heather Courtney and Chelsea Hernandez for their project The Untitled 19th* News Film.”
“This was not an easy choice,” said Carrie Lozano. “Each project is excellent and deserving, with a range of high stakes, indelible protagonists, and truly surprising narrative turns. The Untitled 19th* News Film resonated in its urgency,” she continued. “Capturing an upstart and revolutionary news organization, run by and for women, during a time of crisis, misinformation and reflection on who gets to make the news and how that impacts our society is indeed pressing. At the same time, the intimacy, introspection and levity stood out.”
DocPitch Award Recipients
$30,000 Audience Award Finding the Money, director Maren Poitras
$25,000 Jury Award The Untitled 19th* News Film, directors Heather Courtney, Chelsea Hernandez
$5,000 Jury Award Higher 15, director Ameha Molla
$5,000 Jury Award Mom & Dad’s Nipple Factory, director Justin Johnson (a.k.a. Justinsuperstar)
$5,000 Jury Award A Photographic Memory, director Rachel Elizabeth Seed
CFI Education presented the first annual DocLands Education program, a selection of 10 free online film programs for grades 4-12 curated from the full DocLands festival program, with more than 2700 students from 33 different schools participating around the country. Each screening included pre-recorded conversations with filmmakers, film subjects, and subject experts along with discussion guides, lesson plans and film analysis toolkits to help integrate the films into classroom curriculum. DocLands Education also included several Filmmakers Go to School visits, connecting another 900 students in real time with festival filmmakers from around the world through live online conversations.