DocLands 2024: 5 Extraordinary Films Not to Miss at This Year’s Festival

Watching a great documentary can be a mind-expanding experience. But DocLands takes things to another level, showcasing documentaries the way they’re meant to be seen: on the big screen, with state-of-the-art sound, amid a passionate gathering of curious minds.

With the help of DocLands Director of Programming Joni Cooper, here are five of the festival’s must-see documentaries. As an added bonus, all of the highlighted screenings will feature live Q&As with the filmmakers (and in some cases, subjects) from their respective films!

From Here/From There

A glimpse into the life of charismatic attorney Luis Cortes Romero, a ferocious defender of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients like himself. When the Trump administration threatens to deport over 700,000 DACA recipients by terminating the Obama-implemented policy, Romero heads to the Supreme Court to defend the rights of undocumented immigrants everywhere.

“It’s an incredible story. Bay Area rapper Deuce ECLIPSE wrote a song inspired by Luis’s story and will be performing it following the screening.”

In Person: Writer/Director Marlene “Mo” Morris; Producers Jed Riff and Nicole Solis-Sison; Film

Protagonist Luis Cortes Romero // Special Live Performance by Deuce ECLIPSE

Happy Clothes: A Film About Patricia Field

Step into the world of “freaky fashion” icon Patricia Field, the legendary costume designer behind Sex and the City, The Devil Wears Prada and more. Insights into her free-flowing creative process and relationships with the likes of Kim Cattrall and Jean Michel Basquiat fascinate, and the parade of jaw-dropping garments and silhouettes are like a fashion fireworks show.

“Patricia Field’s style is so colorful and cool. And talk about a colorful film!” 

In Person: Director Michael Selditch

500 Days in the Wild

Dianne Whelan tackles the seemingly impossible feat of traversing the Trans Canadian Trail, an over 15,000-mile route that stretches from the Atlantic, to the Pacific, to the Arctic coast. A scintillating journey that spans the Herculean six-year endeavor, the film captures the sheer power of Mother Nature and the sheer tenacity of Whelan’s spirit.

“She realizes after the first day or two that it’s not about the destination, it’s definitely about the journey. She travels by ski, by bicycle, by canoe. It’s amazing, and the film is beautifully shot.”

In Person: Director Dianne Whelan; Protagonists Louisa Robinson and Jenica Vanelli

Maya and the Wave

An underdog story for the ages that follows Maya Gabeira, a Brazilian big-wave surfer who endures personal and professional struggles as she chases down a world-record 73.5-foot wave and shatters expectations in a male-dominated sport. The breathtaking footage of Gabeira fearlessly taming gigantic waves makes the film a must-watch on the big screen.

“The film is gorgeous. Women aren’t as supported or celebrated as men in big-wave surfing, but she’s an amazing young woman and overcomes it all.”

In Person: Director Stephanie Johnes, Executive Producer Julian Cautherley

The Body Politic

Amid a maelstrom of gun violence and the societal revolt sparked by the murder of George Floyd, activist and public servant Brandon Scott is elected as the youngest mayor in the city of Baltimore’s history. Featuring intense, intimate behind-the-scenes footage, The Body Politic follows Scott’s valiant effort to combat gun violence in his hometown and beyond, signaling a new era of politics shaped by brave Black visionaries.

“Scott really is the wave of the future. I think what he is doing will make waves across the country.”

In Person: Director Gabriel Francis Paz Goodenough, Film Protagonist Erricka Bridgeford