And just for inspiration: Perlov Diary by David Perlov. Filmmaker's first shot: out the window. Start with your own backyard.
BARAKA; The holy grail of documentary cinematography imho
American Movie is possibly my all time funniest doc choice ever, about obsessive moviemaking.
Closely followed by the gem, Exit Through the Gift Shop, also about obsessive movie making, in a strange sort of way...
And just to round out a trio of great films about obsessive movie making, don't forget Lost in La Mancha.
Streetwise: My absolute favorite and the one that helped me understand that a documentary was different than a fiction film.
There's a very good documentary made by New Zealand filmmaker Justin Pemberton called The Nuclear Comeback (2008) about the question of whether or not nuclear power is what we need, to have more environmentally friendly energy production. (I made a documentary on the same subject, but it's not nearly as good.) Pemberton tries to give both sides of the debate an even chance to make their case – but it's hard not to notice that the main proponent of nuclear energy is an arrogant jerk. Nonetheless, the trend has been towards a huge, global renaissance in nuclear power. I suspect that the currently unfolding tragedy in Japan might change that. Let's all hope that it doesn't turn out to be as bad as it could be (and as I suspect it is).
But probably my favorite documentary on nuclear issues is Radio Bikini (1987) from director Robert Stone, about the nuclear bomb tests carried out by the US military after WWII. It's mostly constructed from archival footage – masterfully edited. But it's elevated to being more than just an archival film by two poignant interviews – one with a native Pacific islander who was forced to leave his home by the tests, and one with a US sailor who was part of the testing, and became an unwitting test subject. Highly recommended as an example of a historical documentary that packs a punch.
i LOVE Dark Days for overall aesthetic and mood
Not pleasant viewing. Made a deep impact on me. See directors cut version. Great but bizarre film making. Its a controversial film, that i think is misunderstood by many.
also – in terms of Nuclear related films, i always loved The Atomic Cafe, masterfully edited over 5 years out of archival footage only. It apparently can be watched in its entirety on this youtube clip but there are ads throughout. maybe not the best movie to break up with ads, so it's probably best to seek an alternative way to view it.
Into Eternity, about nuclear waste..
I know others liked it a lot, but I have to say I found Into Eternity incredibly pretentious. Saw it at a film festival and I couldn't take more than 30 minutes of it.
'Darwin's Nightmare', one of the most frightening films I've seen.
'To see if I'm smiling', caught this late one night by chance and was bewildered that it had not been on earlier and promoted.
LIFE AND DEBT is great if you want to see how the world really works for most of it's inhabitants
'Grown in Detroit', check out the trailer and witness that good things can come out of bad things...
Mascha, as mentioned above, please do not use this topic to promote your own work.
For my money, it is hard to beat 2008 Oscar winner MAN ON WIRE.
In reply to Mascha Poppenk-Bouwens's post on Fri 18 Mar 2011 :
Folks, from here on we'll simply delete any post with a self-promotional angle to it. So don't even bother.
Mon tout petit/Mein Kleines Kind, Katja Baumgarten. The midwife carries her child to term knowing well ahead s/he will not survive long. She made her own film about this.
download – www.viktoria11.de
One of my faves is Heddy Honigmann's THE UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA. Unfortunately no online trailer or way to get the film other than at the institutional rate on Icarus. which is not very realistic for a filmmaker who just wants to check out the work of another filmmaker. But if you want to see it and other films of hers on DVD, there is a Facebook movement
Thanks for starting this thread, Doug.
The film that's impressed me lately is Gasland- I sort of avoided it for awhile, but after a few minutes of screening it, I was hooked. Another story of lighting your water on fire from local natural gas mining. A must see for those interested in the feasibility of this "clean and terrorist free" energy. And there's banjo!
But an all time favorite –that sadly I can't find on DVD (anyone know how I can get a copy?) is Two Towns of Jaspar-innovative in approach (one black crew/one white crew) and deep in exploring race in contemporary America.
So many others to save for another time...
My Favourite is Last Train. Wish I could be rapped on the knuckles for self promotion on that one. Would die a happy man.
Assume you mean Last Train Home, sir. I agree, it's a great doc.