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16 Bars

We celebrate DocLands' Closing Night with the world premiere of Sam Bathrick's transformative film 16 Bars. Todd “Speech” Thomas of activist hip-hop group Arrested Development instigates a unique rehabilitation program in Richmond, Virginia, to help prisoners write and record their own songs. Bathrick focuses on four inmates who battle cycles of incarceration and addiction. Truly gifted, the men make brilliant music that brings their stories to life and reaches out to us like prayer. “It’s a big deal to have their words come out from behind walls,” says Speech. “If that’s not freedom, I don’t know what is.” The U.S. boasts the highest incarceration rates in the world, and the film humanizes some of the complex issues surrounding America’s broken criminal justice system. Earning their trust, and aided by loving camerawork and superbly produced recording sessions, the director deftly captures the men’s deepest hopes and fears. Suspense builds as each man works toward freedom in th
Sat, May 5 6:30 PM
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Filmed over eight years, acclaimed photographic artist Chris Jordan’s first documentary unfolds on Midway, a remote North Pacific atoll. This is the world’s largest albatross colony, where over 1.5 million of the legendary birds dwell amidst the eerie remnants of a WWII military base. From our first glimpse of a wobbly, slightly clownish-looking bird preparing to fly, an unlikely love affair develops. Erotic mating dances, extraordinary hatching/feeding scenes, and birds in flight are all set to a gorgeous score. These isolated birds do not fear humans, nor the camera’s unprecedented gaze. Looking deeply into our souls, an unforgettable and intimate connection transpires. Yet, as the parents scoop up food for their chicks from flying forays thousands of miles out at sea, we learn of a hidden danger, “one surreal consequence of our collective choice” as described by Jordan. “I didn’t know I could care about an albatross,” he confesses. Nor did we. IN PERSON: Director Chris Jordan, Prod
Sat, May 5 6:15 PM
Sun, May 6 7:30 PM
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Anote’s Ark

OPENING NIGHT FILM + PARTY CFI launches the 2018 edition of DocLands with Montreal-based photographer/ethnologist Matthieu Rytz’s exquisitely shot feature, a real-time climate change story. Most often a hard-to-grasp scientific abstraction that seems little evident in day-to-day life, climate change could hardly be more heartbreakingly immediate for the residents of Kiribati, a nation in the central Pacific Ocean. The engaging residents in Rytz’s film guide us through their predicament: Kiribati’s 33 atolls sprawl over an expanse as wide as the U.S., yet barely rise above sea level—and that level is rising. As global warming generated by industrialized countries swallows Kiribati whole, this small, isolated culture is being destroyed. Lovely and mournful, Anote’s Ark chronicles the peculiarities of a population whose all-too-imminent future will be strictly as refugees, their homeland only accessible to divers. Will the Herculean efforts of former President Anote Tong stop this
Thu, May 3 7:00 PM
Fri, May 4 1:00 PM
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Ask The Sexpert

How did sex get to be a taboo subject in the land of the Kama Sutra? That mystery won’t be solved here, but more intimate questions do get answered by Mumbai’s resident sexpert, Dr. Mahinder Watsa. Whether approached through his popular newspaper column or at his doorstep, the 91-year-old former gynecologist and sex educator offers nonjudgmental advice to India’s sexually forlorn. Watsa separates science from superstition, patiently hearing out the (often hilariously) misinformed before delivering the relief-inducing prognosis: “it’s normal.” Yet the idea of openly discussing sexual pleasure stirs up the social conservatives, and the doctor gets sued regularly by the likes of Dr. Pratihba Naitthani who admits, “I’m not interested in people’s sexual health.” That mostly heterosexual men do the asking is another indicator of how much more work Watsa has to do, but if a placid demeanor and quick wit are indicators of longevity, he’s got time. Preceded by SWAN US 2017, 3 min, Direc
Sat, May 5 8:30 PM
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Becoming Who I Was

Padma Angdu is a rosy-cheeked young Rinpoche, or reincarnation of a spiritual master. Assigned to the care of a local lama, Urgyan Rickzen, in the remote, mountainous Ladakh region of southern India, Padma’s destiny is to reunite with his monastic order in Tibet. The film depicts their relationship over eight years with incredible intimacy. When they finally embark on the arduous journey to Tibet, obstacles emerge: China’s anti-Tibetan politics, lack of money, and difficult terrain. Nevertheless, through the years, the filmmakers capture wonderfully joyful activities, perfectly fitting boyhood in any walk of life. The film moves from the deeply personal to the universal, with breathtaking drone shots of the two trekking on snowy mountain peaks, accompanied by heart-stirring music. The filmmakers beautifully navigate the relationship between guardian and spiritual master, father and son. What emerges—in the most artful way—is an epic story about love, sacrifice, and profound attachment.
Fri, May 4 4:45 PM
Sat, May 5 3:45 PM
Sun, May 6 12:15 PM
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DocLands Honors: Louie Psihoyos / Screening of Racing Extinction

The DocLands Honors Award is presented to a filmmaker in recognition of exceptional storytelling within the documentary genre, an artist whose films resonate universally, emphasizing our common humanity—no matter the subject. The inaugural DocLands Honors Award is presented to director Louie Psihoyos (The Cove, Racing Extinction, The Game Changers) for his dogged determination and tenacity in exposing wrongs and expanding awareness. We also show our appreciation for his astounding efforts in outreach, bringing to a worldwide audience some of our most pressing environmental and social issues. Louie Psihoyos, executive director of the Oceanic Preservation Society (PS), is recognized as one of the top photographers in the world. An ardent dive photographer, he feels compelled to expose the decline of our planet’s crucial resource, the oceans. Psihoyos’ first documentary film, The Cove, won the Academy Award<®> for Best Documentary Featu
Fri, May 4 6:30 PM
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DocPitch is designed to connect filmmakers and their ideas to funders, distributors, organizations, philanthropists, fellow filmmakers—and future audiences. Up to five film projects currently in development have been pre-selected to present their pitches. The audience will get to vote for their favorite, which will receive a $10,000 cash award.
Sat, May 5 11:00 AM
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The story-enhancing power of music and score is palpable in the films that stick with us. But how do you achieve this sought-after influence and emotion? How and when do you choose a composer? Do you need to have a vision before you collaborate? Is it imperative to develop a second layer of narrative composed of notes that mimics your story arc? Join us for coffee and conversation with visiting and local filmmakers as they share their individual strategies for hitting all the right notes to boost the power of their films.
Sun, May 6 12:30 PM
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Drawn Together: Comics, Diversity and Stereotypes / Mr. Fish: Cartooning From The Deep End

From comic strips to cosplay, Harleen Singh’s film finds encouraging signs of progressive change in forums once solely devoted to juvenile entertainment—and to a middle-class WASP perspective. Her primary subjects are three distinctive artist personalities. Keith Knight has used newspaper strip “The K Chronicles” and other ongoing outlets to sharply yet humorously critique racial issues, not least police violence against African Americans. In response to heightened hostility towards minorities after 9/11, Vishavjit Singh began creating editorial cartoons—then extended his ideas to wearing a Captain America costume in public, the “altered” image invariably stirring discussion thanks to his Sikh beard and turban. Eileen Kaur Alden is a confessed lifelong nerd girl whose combined feminist beliefs and love of superhero-style adventure led her to co-create the comic book series “SuperSikh.” The boundaries of representation are changing—even in the “funny papers,” even amongst spandex-wearin
Sat, May 5 12:30 PM
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