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Recommended Documentaries

This is a topic where you can say which documentary has really impressed you, and why people should see it. Can be a recent one or an all-time favourite. Can't be your own though, sorry...

We also have a Documentary Films topic for our Professionals where the debate is private and possibly more controversial. This topic here is for recommendations to the documentary-interested public.

This topic is for praising the work of others, not your own. If you want to beat the drum for your own documentary, please don't do it here. Enthusiasts use our Public Classifieds, and Professionals have their own Shameless Self-Promotion topic.

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Bhawin Suchak
Fri 22 Feb 2013Link

The Area...Amazing and powerful work from the good folks behind "The Grid" project, based out of Chicago. Dont know who did what on this one, but Brian Ashby who did scrappers was one of the people involved. So gritty and real, and I love the style and the voices that are featured, definitely check this out...https://vimeo.com/59895906


Sam Price-Waldman
Mon 11 Mar 2013Link

wow John, thanks so much for posting the "Landfill Harmonic" trailer. Incredibly inspiring.


Thomas Papapetros
Tue 19 Mar 2013Link

Documentary/Metafilm/Musical/Ididn'tknowthisshithappend/itsbizarre

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQhIRBxbchU

see dir.cut/longversion


Robert Goodman
Tue 26 Mar 2013Link

The Act of Killing which I saw on Sunday at NDND is excellent filmmaking though I have major qualms about giving voice to the perpetrators without any voices of the victims. In a way, it felt like propaganda for the victors with only a few moments that reveal the insanity, e.g. the scene with the talk show host.


John Burgan
Tue 2 Apr 2013Link

Here is a full set of links to the seminal 70's BBC series of John Berger's "Ways of Seeing", directed by Mike Dibb.


Thomas Papapetros
Wed 3 Apr 2013Link

In reply to Robert Goodman's post on Tue 26 Mar 2013 :

Word around the campfire says, that they will start production off part two soon... the victim's point of view


Robert Goodman
Thu 4 Apr 2013Link

Not sure that's true. Given this was 7 years in process and it's still not safe there for victims. I think the thought is there to do something.


Patrick Wiley
Sun 28 Apr 2013Link

Fascinating film about American Roma, more commonly refereed to as "Gypsies". There are quite a few documentaries about Roma including Roma in America, but this is perhaps the only one made by a Roma filmmaker.

You can see the full version at www.vimeo.com/ondemand/4thnail


John Burgan
Fri 10 May 2013Link

Here's a classic for anyone who loves the movies: Angela Christlieb & Stephen Kijak's CINEMANIA

Don't just take my word for it:

We loved it! These characters in Cinemania, have clearly crossed over some line and can no longer be considered normal or sane. After watching your film, we are ready to cross that line ourselves. (D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus)

It's for free on Vimeo, but if you enjoy it please make a contribution to their tip jar

More information in hidden section

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Edited Fri 10 May 2013 by John Burgan


John Burgan
Mon 27 May 2013Link

More great freebies from Doc Alliance – Dutch master Bert Haanstra

http://dafilms.com/event/123-retrospective-of-bert-haanstra-filmmaker-holding-a-mirror-to-the-society/


Jake van Vuuren
Thu 30 May 2013Link

If you haven't seen American Movie (1999), then check it out. It is hilarious! You can find the trailer at the top of this page: http://www.jakevanvuuren.com/docs.html


Jake van Vuuren
Thu 30 May 2013Link

I have 10 favorite docs on my site. Not my Top 10, just docs that's worthy of checking out!
http://www.jakevanvuuren.com/docs.html


John Burgan
Tue 4 Jun 2013Link

A classic short now made available online by the Criterion Collection, Alain Resnais' 1956 Toute la mémoire du monde


George Henry
Thu 6 Jun 2013Link

Anyone else seen Dark Days?

Edited Thu 6 Jun 2013 by George Henry

John Burgan
Thu 6 Jun 2013Link

It's a film many here on The D-Word appreciate. Why would you recommend it?


George Henry
Thu 6 Jun 2013Link

I'd recommend it because it's damn interesting. The filmmaker actually enlisted homeless subjects and trained them to use the camera equipment. It's set in the "Freedom Tunnel",which in this context is an ironic name. There was a whole underground subculture down there. You haven't seen it yet? Or you just wanted my opinion?

Edited Thu 6 Jun 2013 by George Henry

John Burgan
Thu 6 Jun 2013Link

Well the purpose of this Public Topic is to recommend films to a wider public so it's of interest to hear why a particular film has been chosen. As it happens, it's been on my watch list for years but I've yet to see it.


George Henry
Fri 7 Jun 2013Link

Go watch it then what are you waiting for? Movies don't age like wine. They don't go bad either.

Edited Fri 7 Jun 2013 by George Henry

John Burgan
Fri 7 Jun 2013Link

I'll bear that in mind.


John Grabowska
Fri 7 Jun 2013Link

Professor Burgan, your equanimity is admirable.


John Burgan
Mon 10 Jun 2013Link

It comes with the territory.

Meanwhile, another great offer from Doc Alliance – a clutch of films streaming for free by French master filmmaker Nicolas Philibert – including the celebrated ”Etre et Avoir”

http://dafilms.com/event/125-retrospective-of-nicolas-philibert/


Kurt Engfehr
Tue 11 Jun 2013Link

In reply to Jake van Vuuren's post on Thu 30 May 2013 : interesting list. are those actually your favorites, or ones you think are important for reasons other than watchability or enjoyment?


Niam Itani
Thu 4 Jul 2013Link

I am seeking recommendations/suggestions for biographical (better) or autobiographical documentaries about people in a SCIENTIFIC discipline.

Perfect suggestions would be films made by other people about a scientist after their death. ((Astronauts, Engineers, Mathematicians, Physicists, Chemists, etc...))


Erica Ginsberg
Fri 5 Jul 2013Link

Me & Isaac Newton
A Brief History of Time


Marth Christensen
Fri 5 Jul 2013Link

Many of the Richard Fyneman docs.
This one for starters:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fzg1CU8t9nw

Don't forget Tana Tuva:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5Pgmx2WCsY

Which, if you are not careful, will lead you to Genghis Blues.


John Grabowska
Sat 6 Jul 2013Link

The Day After Trinity, about Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project, prod/dir Jon Else.


Niam Itani
Sat 6 Jul 2013Link

Thanks for the suggestions. Will check these out :)



Tiago Pavan
Wed 7 Aug 2013Link

"ELENA, a film by Petra Costa" – This documentary is getting a lot of attention here in Brazil. It's the most watched documentary of the year over here (> 50.000 viewers).


Doug Block
Wed 7 Aug 2013Link

I met Petra at the Tribeca Film Festival a little over a year ago and first heard about it there. Sounded fascinating. Hope it finds its way to the U.S. (and NY City).


Tiago Pavan
Wed 7 Aug 2013Link

Doug, the NY Premiere of Elena will happen this next saturday: August 10, 8:00PM @ Rooftop Films Summer Series – http://rooftopfilms.ticketleap.com/rooftop-films-elena/


Doug Block
Thu 8 Aug 2013Link

Great! Thanks for the heads up, Tiago.


Elizabeth Yoffe
Tue 13 Aug 2013Link

Was blown away and very moved by Wim Wenders' doc "Pina" about brilliant choreographer Pina Bausch and her dance company: http://www.pina-film.de/en/trailer.html


Regan Brashear
Wed 21 Aug 2013Link

In reply to Elizabeth Yoffe 's post on Tue 13 Aug 2013 :

Me too! Such a beautiful film!


Stephanie Hubbard
Tue 27 Aug 2013Link

http://thedocumentaryinsider.com/blogs/stephanie/2009/dec/dd/list-documentaries-view-filmmakers

Here's my list – I can't believe it's from 2009 – seems like I wrote it yesterday – that's what working on movies will do – the year goes a way and instead of the Jurassic or Mesozoic era it's this firm or that film's era.

Edited Tue 27 Aug 2013 by Stephanie Hubbard

Jennifer Talbott
Tue 17 Sep 2013Link

Here's my quick list, especially for anyone nervous or hesitant to give documentaries a try (favorites and 'must-sees'): http://www.theextraordinarilyordinary.com/2013/03/13/watch-these-docs/


David Banco
Tue 19 Nov 2013Link

There has never been a straight forward fact based presentation in either movies or documentaries on Combat PTSD. I attempted to air one on public television in Arizona and it was pulled for reasons of to much factual content?????????? Anyways, I live in Virginia now I am going to put together another one, is there anyone out there that would like to help? Thank you. I just joined The D Word today and I hope to meet some of you incredible folks in order to learn more about the business.


John Burgan
Tue 19 Nov 2013Link

Good to hear from you, David. As this Topic is primarily to recommend films that have impressed you, your request would probably have been better placed in Introduce Yourself Topic, but as it's here now we'll leave it.


John Burgan
Wed 27 Nov 2013Link

More docs streaming for free on the excellent Doc Alliance site – the current offer includes the highly entertaining "Broadway Black Sea" by Vitaly Mansky

http://dafilms.com/event/147-retrospective-vitaly-mansky/


John Burgan
Tue 3 Dec 2013Link

Here's a short film with no dialogue, Stories about a Man by Polish filmmaker Bogdan Dziworski – this is one of those works that lives somewhere between documentary and fiction; make your own mind up.

Edited Tue 3 Dec 2013 by John Burgan

John Burgan
Thu 5 Dec 2013Link

Leacock's Lessons


John Burgan
Thu 12 Dec 2013Link

Krzysztof Kieslowski's second film Urzad / Office made when he was still at film school


Bill Jackson
Sun 15 Dec 2013Link

In reply to John Burgan's post on Thu 5 Dec 2013 :

Brilliant. And, his voice in the beginning is so clear and rich-sounding.


Kurt Engfehr
Mon 16 Dec 2013Link

In reply to John Burgan's post on Thu 5 Dec 2013 :

the slate says that little doc was directed by Peter Wintonick.


John Burgan
Sat 11 Jan 2014Link

This is the true story of Kendrick, a young, black calf roper grafting through the local, all-white rodeo circuits in the southern United States. He practices and competes relentlessly, with dreams of one day making it to the National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas.

Winner of "Best Documentary" and "Best Cinematography" at the One Club One Screen Awards. Official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, 2013 SXSW Film Festival, and the 2013 True/False Film Festival.

The film is currently being developed into the feature documentary "Rookie" (working title).

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Rob Rooy
Mon 13 Jan 2014Link

Nice, John. Thanks for sharing.


John Burgan
Thu 6 Feb 2014Link

Film by Indian filmmaker Supriyo Sen on the curious rituals of the Wagah border ceremony


Elissa Bogos Mirzaei
Wed 12 Feb 2014Link

In reply to John Burgan's post on Thu 6 Feb 2014 :

Fascinating--thanks for posting that.


Nick Higgins
Mon 17 Feb 2014Link

Fascinating and highly bizarre too.


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