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 to expand the palette of the films the organization has been so good at curating and showcasing.

Mark Fishkin, executive director/founder of the California Film Institute, and Joni Cooper, DocLands Director of Programming, have unveiled the lineup for the DocLands Documentary Film Festival, returning Thursday, May 2-5, 2024. Featuring captivating world premieres, including From Here/From There (De Aquí/De Allá)I Hope This Helps!Make A Circle, and Not Just A Goof, alongside the anticipated North American Premiere of Living with Wolves and theUS premieres of 500 Days in The Wild and Hunt for the Oldest DNA, this year’s festival promises an unforgettable cinematic experience.

“We are so excited to present 25 exceptional feature films from filmmakers worldwide at the 2024 DocLands Documentary Film Festival. Documentary filmmaking is more relevant than ever, covering a spectrum of topics from joy to the most pressing issues of our time,” said Mark Fishkin, Founder/Executive Director at The California Film Institute (CAFILM). “The DocLands lineup is set to entertain, inspire, and leave a lasting impact. Join us for an unforgettable experience.”

Providing attendees with the opportunity to interact with industry professionals and fellow film enthusiasts, the event will include engaging Q&A sessions with filmmakers, an enlightening DocTalk panel discussion, and special events, including DocLands Education’s DocShorts, a free community screening at the Multicultural Center of Marin. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, April 3, for CAFILM members and Saturday, April 6, for the public.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the festival is embracing extremes this year — as in extreme sports, extreme viewpoints, extreme scenarios. It opens with “Skywalkers: A Love Story,” about a Russian couple who scale tall buildings with a single boundless energy, while falling only for each other, and closes with the U.S. premiere of “500 Days in the Wild,” in which filmmaker Dianne Whelan chronicles her six-year quest to traverse all 15,000 miles of the Trans Canada Trail that connects the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans across all terrains. Whelan, like many filmmakers and subjects during the festival, is scheduled to appear in person; presumably she’ll be without her 150-pound bike, heavy backpack and snowshoes.Overall, there are 25 feature-length movies, many of them premieres of some sort, presented by the folks responsible for the Mill Valley Film Festival.Tickets are on sale now for California Film Institute members, while general sales start April 7. Here’s a snapshot of some of the marquee films:

Bay Area Premiere Thursday, May 2 @ 6:30 PM
In Person Directors Jeff Zimbalist and Maria Bukhonina
Opening Night Party will be held at 1312 Mission Avenue, San Rafael
Special Musical Performance Highlight – FROM HERE/ FROM THERE (DE AQUÍ/DE ALLÁ)
World PremiereFriday, May 3 @ 7:00 PM
In PersonDirector Marlene “Mo” Morris; Producers Jed Riff and Nicole Solis-Sison; and Protagonist
Luis Cortes Romero
Adding to the evening’s excitement, Bay Area Rapper Deuce ECLIPSE, the creative force behind the film’s closing song, will deliver an energetic live performance. Known for his dynamic blend of bilingual lyricism and cultural influences, Deuce ECLIPSE draws inspiration from his Nicaraguan roots and the rich tapestry of the vibrant spirit of the San Francisco Bay Area and the global hip-hop communities.
Closing Night Film – 500 DAYS IN THE WILD
US Premiere Saturday, May 4 @ 6:00 PM
In PersonDirector Dianne Whelan and Subjects Louisa Robinson and Jenica Vanelli
Closing Night Reception will be held at Lotus Cuisine of India in San Rafael.
DocTalk – Finding Your Documentary Form: What Comes First
Sunday, May 5 @ 10:30 AM at the MFR (adjacent to the theater)
Documentaries take different forms, and depending on the genesis of a film, the form can vary immensely. What comes first: the topic, an idea, or a character?
Unlike in film school, where documentaries are typically labeled, we select films based on our interests. However, a filmmaker’s chosen mode and approach can elevate a film from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding.’ Whether it’s through expository or participatory narration, observational or performative techniques, or a blend of these styles, these choices shape the film’s impact. Join us for a casual conversation as we explore the choices some of this year’s filmmakers have made to bring us their outstanding films!