Presented by the California Film Institute, DOCLANDS Documentary Film Festival brings compelling stories and the provocative insight behind them to Marin County, CA.

The fully in-person, in-theatre DocLands is scheduled to take place May 2-5, 2024 to again deliver an inspiring slate of events that engages our members and patrons, supports filmmakers and our valued partners, and bolsters the documentary film community. As we have throughout the past four years, we will remain responsive and respectful of the public health situation.

DocLands film slate of recently completed films is non-competitive and non-juried, with one overall Audience Choice Award. Dedicated to building connections and partnerships to invigorate the business and art of nonfiction filmmaking, DocLands aims to build an active, inclusive, and fully supportive community around documentary film through public screenings, engaged conversations, and grassroots networking and signature pitching forum DocPitch ( DocLands showcases documentary film with a diversity of content, within three main programming sections: Art of Impact, The Great Outdoors, and WonderLands.

DocLands film slate of recently completed films is non-competitive and non-juried, with one overall Audience Choice Award.

DocLands entries will be accepted only via upload through the FilmFreeway submission platform. No DVDs or external links will be considered.

Programming emphasizes new works in documentary features and shorts.
• Feature-length entries (45 minutes and over) that have been or will have been exhibited theatrically or otherwise made available to the general public, either for free or for purchase, prior to DocLands dates may not be eligible to submit to this category. This includes, but is not limited to, public theatrical release or exhibition, television broadcast, home video, or any digital platform. Exceptions may be made under special circumstances.
• Entries accepted for DocLands will NOT be eligible for inclusion in the Mill Valley Film Festival, nor will films be eligible for DocLands if they've screened at Mill Valley FF.
• DocLands does not pay rental fees. Instead, our resources are invested in the production and promotion of the best possible showcase for your work. Films may subsequently be considered for theatrical runs (in-theater if possible or virtual) at our year-round venue, the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center.
• Films may be screened more than once during the festival
• Industrial, promotional or instructional films are NOT eligible.
• Films must have been completed after October 1, 2022.
• Filmmakers are responsible for providing an exhibition-quality file for online or for in-theater screenings, a DCP ONLY.
• Filmmakers will be notified via email of entry status by approximately April 14, 2024.
• Once a film is accepted it may not be withdrawn.
• If selected to screen in the festival, you may be asked to provide an electronic press kit.
• Theatrical exhibition prints must be sent to the Festival prepaid. Online transfer of DCPs is strongly preferred. Generally we do not accept shipments of drives outside of North America.
• In case of loss or damage during the Festival, the responsibility of the Festival is limited to the costs of repair or replacement of the theatrical print only.

All invited participants must comply with the California Film Institute Code of Conduct:

Overall Rating
  • Lisa Landers

    Fantastic festival!! What a gift it was to be able to screen our film here, and even be invited back for an encore presentation. The festival is so well run and fun. The Rafael theater is wonderful... that magical mix of high capacity (300+ seats) and an intimate feel. Not to mention state-of-the-art projection and sound. The festival programmed so many great docs. I just wish I had had more time to see more of them!

    June 2024
    Response from festival:

    Thank YOU, Lisa!
    Your film captured the lives of Redwoods so completely -- and so beautifully cinematic! And being in Marin where Redwoods are beloved, the audience responded with such love and admiration. It blew us all away :) It was an absolute honour to help you present your film to our appreciative audiences that included the entire staff of CAFILM. Wowzers. Such a celebration! Please come back to be able to enjoy ALL the amazing films at DocLands ... I promise, we'll do it all again next year!

  • Matthew Boyd

    Joni, Tally, Shelley, Sterling, and the rest of the staff were lovely throughout the process, always quick to respond with answers to questions. It was a great line up of films, hoping to return with my feature, Barren Grounds.

    May 2024
    Response from festival:

    Thank YOU, Matt!
    We're delighted you were able to be here for your screening - and also glad to hear you enjoyed other filmmakers' works. We're excited to see BARREN GROUNDS! Please keep us in the loop - and don't forget, as an alumni, a fee waiver awaits :))

  • Marlene Morris

    The DocLands and @cafilm teams roll out the red carpet for their filmmakers. They were communicative and creative about planning a memorable World Premiere event that included a musical performance. You can tell they really respect the hard work that it takes to bring a documentary film into the world and do their best to ensure the widest possible audience. DocLands is a filmmakers' film festival. You don't want to miss it!

    May 2024
    Response from festival:

    Thank you, Mo!
    It was an absolute honour for us to help usher your baby out into the world -- and an even bigger honour to have true hero Luis Cortes Romero, here with us. A big thank you to Deuce ECLIPSE for rousing the DocLands' audience like never before. What an opening! It was such a pleasure too working with you and getting to know you and the team. We'll be standing by for your next project :))

  • Matt Waldeck

    Joni Cooper and her team were so accommodating and welcoming to our film team. The festival exhibition theater is stunning as is the backdrop of Marin County. The programming at DocLands was among the best of any festivals we attended, so if your film is selected, know that you are among gifted peers and films that really matter. Joni and her team are responsible for curating that environment and we are grateful for the privilege to have been programmed and recognized with an award at DocLands 2023.

    June 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much, Matt!
    Having you and Rickey and his family here to represent LOVELY JACKSON was an honor for us. Thank you for coming! Your film is an incredibly impactful work of art -- thank you for sharing it with us and our audience. Sure hope to see you back at DocLands with a future project very soon.

  • Ghislaine Couvillat

    We had a fabulous welcome at DocLands where we had the World Premiere of Savage Waters as the festival opening film in May 2022. Joni Cooper is a wonderful Director of Programming and beautifully curates the film selections. The location of the festival is in stunning Marin County but it is also an area with a lot of Academy members residents and a good place to get your film noticed.

    May 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thank you, Ghislaine! What an honor to host your World Premiere -- and to have you here with us to celebrate this beautiful adventure! We look forward to hosting your next film too :))