DocLands - Dawn Porter

When Mill Valley Film Festival organizers at the California Film Institute dove into launching the inaugural DocLands documentary film festival several years ago, they did so with the wind of an ever-growing MVFF behind them, as well as the knowledge that documentary filmmaking had taken a quantum leap forward in terms of both quality and popularity. The COVID-19 crisis certainly stifled its continued growth, but as we continue to emerge on the other side, DocLands organizers continue to highlight some of the best documentary filmmaking around.

For the 2023 edition, critically acclaimed director Dawn Porter will be honored for her commitment to exploring controversial issues and inspiring conversations about her varying subjects. Known for her timely commentary on numerous subjects with social and political relevance, Porter joins DocLands for a conversation, where she will delve into her craft as a documentarian, focusing on the original and insightful perspective she brings to each of her films. Through her lens, she gives us a glimpse into the life and times and importance of some of the most remarkable American artists, politicians, humanitarians, and social justice activists of our times. 

 The DocLands Honors Award is presented to a filmmaker or filmmaking team to recognize exceptional storytelling within the documentary genre, artists whose films resonate universally, emphasizing our shared humanity – no matter the subject.

Included with the Honors conversation is a screening of her most recent documentary, The Lady Bird Diaries. A groundbreaking all-archival documentary film about Lady Bird Johnson, one of the most influential and least understood First Ladies. The feature film looks at the 123 hours of personal and revealing audio diaries that Lady Bird recorded during her husband’s administration. The film reveals Lady Bird as an astute observer of character and culture and a savvy political strategist. It recasts her crucial role in LBJ’s presidency and brings viewers behind the scenes of one of the most tumultuous and consequential periods in modern American history.

Porter has emerged in the entertainment industry as a leader in the art of storytelling; directing and producing critically acclaimed films and series. A two-time Sundance film festival director, Porter’s work has been featured on HBO, Netflix, CNN, PBS, MSNBC, ESPN, Discovery, National Geographic, and others. Porter’s latest film, “The Lady Bird Diaries,” an all-archival documentary about Lady Bird Johnson will have its California premiere at DocLands following its debut at the 2023 SXSW Film Festival. Her next project “Supreme,” is a four-part docuseries, exploring the history of the United States Supreme Court, the justices, decisions, and confirmation battles that have shaped America. Other current projects include the next installment of the historic civil rights documentary series “Eyes on the Prize” for HBO. Additional credits include “The Me You Can’t See” (Apple TV+), “Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer” (National Geographic), “The Way I See It” (Focus Features, MSNBC), “John Lewis: Good Trouble” (CNN, Magnolia Pictures), “37 Words” (ESPN), “Un(re)solved” (Frontline PBS), and “Gideon’s Army” (HBO).