The California Film Institute‘s annual Doclands documentary film festival wrapped this weekend, showcasing dozens of films across 10 days with a mix of safe in-person screenings and streaming.

As the fest wrapped Sunday, organizers unveiled the awards winners from the slate. “Our audiences have recognized Jennifer Abbott’s masterful filmmaking skills by choosing her exquisite documentary The Magnitude of All Things, as the 2021 DocLands Audience Choice,” DocLands Programming Director Joni Cooer says. “Her film allows us to consider the beauty that we can discover beyond grief, once we reconcile our relationship with it. Jennifer not only wrote and directed it, but also executed a perfect merging of editing and hauntingly beautiful sound design.”

After the audience votes were carefully verified and tallied, organizers announced 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.

“Because of Covid, we found ourselves presenting our filmmaker funding initiative DocPitch again in a virtual space,” Cooper says. “This may seem impersonal, but was incredibly effective. The cohort of DocPitchers this year were 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.” 

“This was not an easy choice,” Lozano adds. “Each project is excellent and deserving, with a range of high stakes, indelible protagonists, and truly surprising narrative turns. The Untitled 19th* News resonated in its urgency. 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.” 

Here’s the 2021 DocPitch Award Announcement: