The California Film Institute brings compelling true-life films to the North Bay each spring in the popular Doclands Documentary Film Festival; though this year’s festival was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the most highly anticipated elements of the annual DocLands festival is the fundraising DocPitch; a forum to support filmmakers with documentaries in production through financial rewards based voting by the public and industry professionals.
This fall, the California Film Institute works to incorporate the DocLands festival in their annual Mill Valley Film Festival, still scheduled to take place in October. Before that happens, CFI hosts DocPitch online this month, beginning with a live stream pitch meeting featuring several filmmakers on Thursday, Aug 13, at 7pm.
For DocPitch, eight filmmaking teams with feature documentary projects currently in early-to-late stages of completion will pitch their ideas, offering details in a pre-recorded video and showing a trailer of the work-in-progress.
After watching the eight documentary pitches, the public is invited to place their vote to help decide which project will receive the $25,000 Audience Choice Award. The jury of industry professionals, including Academy and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Lee Mock and Grammy Award-winning musician and documentary film producer Speech Thomas, will award filmmaking grants totaling $100,000.
Each year, the DocPitch selection committee in charge of choosing the eight participating films looks for projects that showcase diversity of subject or theme as well as storyteller. They also seek out stories that are surprising or awe inspiring in their narrative as well as cinematic in their approach.
This year’s DocPitch films include 500 Days in the Wild, a feature documentary by Dianne Whelan about her solo journey on the world’s longest trail; American ESPionage, which traces the true story of the United States’ top-secret psychic espionage program as told through the story of Major Paul Smith; Black & Gold, which tells the previously untold stories of African-American gymnasts who must battle racism in the pursuit of Olympic gold, and My Name Is Andrea, covering the life of feminist outlaw and maverick thinker Andrea Dworkin.
Other in–the-work documentaries competing for DocPitch awards are focusing their lens on varied topics of interest such as the darker side of Silicon Valley, the work to disrupt America’s cycle of police violence and a Chilean community fighting to survive as a mining operation drains their water supply.
All DocPitch awards will be announced during a virtual conversation with the filmmakers on Friday, August 21, at 7pm. Participation in these events is free, but registration is required.
The 43rd annual Mill Valley Film Festival is scheduled to take place October 8 through 18. The festival, which holds a reputation for launching new films and creating awards season buzz, is keeping tight-lipped about it’s 2020 schedule for now, though CFI has suspended all public programs light of the circumstances related to Covid-19. The institute will resume regular screenings at its Smith Rafael Film Center when the current directives issued by state and county officials are lifted.