DocLands Documentary Film Festival’s DocPitch Brings $100K in Funding to Filmmakers

After a successful and highly enthusiastic response from filmmakers and audience members, the California Film Institute’s virtual DocPitch returns for its sixth year as part of the 2022 DocLands Documentary Film Festival, May 5-11.

DocPitch supports documentary filmmakers seeking funds to complete their films. Five filmmakers will have the opportunity to pitch their feature-length projects and to win prizes totaling $100,000. 

Recent DocPitch award recipients include James LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham’s “Crip Camp” (2020). This local Bay Area production went on to premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for U.S. Documentary before receiving an Independent Spirit Award and Academy Award nomination.

These documentary film projects build connections and deepen our understanding of the world around us — from complex global issues to the intimate moments of our everyday lives. As films have taken flight around the world, their ability to touch new audiences also has grown.

“The Big Scary ‘S’ Word,” directed and produced by Yael Bridge, tackles the history of the American socialist movement and the inequalities that still exist today. Since completion, this winning DocPitch film had its U.S. premiere at DocLands 2020 and has screened at numerous film festivals, including DOC NYC and American Film Institute’s AFI Fest, and is currently streaming on Hulu. 


Another recent DocPitch winner was Five Years North, co-directed by Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci. It follows an undocumented Guatemalan boy who arrived alone in New York City. The filmmakers received the DocPitch Audience Award of $25,000 to assist in completing the film.

Temple describes his experience as a DocPitch participant: “This is really a hidden gem in the grant community. We’re walking away with better funding, connections and knowledge on making an impactful film. I would highly recommend it.”


DocPitch finalist “The Rescue List,” co-directed by Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink, also reached audiences at multiple festivals, shedding light on the overlooked reality of child labor and slavery in Ghana. The film had its national debut on the PBS documentary series POV, and won an Emmy for Outstanding Social Issue in 2021.


Five film teams are currently being selected as finalists for DocPitch 2022, with two major awards to be presented: a $45,000 Audience Award where the winner is selected by a public vote and a $40,000 Jury Award where the winner is selected by a panel of industry professionals. The remaining three teams will each receive $5,000.

The DocPitch 2022 projects will be available to view online beginning Friday, April 29. Voting remains open until Sunday, May 8, with winners announced on May 11!

DocPitch is made possible through support from Resonance Philanthropies, Project No. 9, and Nancy P. and Richard K. Robbins Family Foundation. By May 2022, DocPitch will have awarded $428,000 directly to filmmakers to support their documentary films. In past years, additional donors and funders have also come forward, pledging additional financial support, and opening up even more opportunities for filmmakers. 

Stay tuned for the DocLands Documentary Film Festival, May 5-11. Early-bird tickets are on sale through April 7. The program will be released on April 8.

Special thanks to Make It Better Foundation for their $10K matching grant support for DocLands.

For more on Marin: