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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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John Frisbie
Tue 5 Apr 2011Link

Brett Morgan did one of the ESPN 30 On 30 pieces about the historic day in sports in which OJ was chased through LA, the NBA Finals were taking place and Arnold Palmer was playing his last round of golf. Good storytelling and he only used available footage. Also, just watched 'Weather Underground' – couldn't believe how well-paced it was. A few holes, but it moves so well.


Charlotte Lagarde
Sun 10 Apr 2011Link

In reply to Suree Towfighnia's post on Mon 28 Mar 2011 :

One of my favorite music doc for sure!


Charlotte Lagarde
Sun 10 Apr 2011Link

In reply to Nadia Awad's post on Wed 30 Mar 2011 :
The Arbor is incredible. I saw it at MOMA, very intimate.It will open at Film Forum in NY 4/27
http://www.filmforum.org/films/arbor.html


James Longley
Sun 10 Apr 2011Link

I finally saw Inside Job this evening. Very worthy film – does a good job of laying out the financial crisis and its roots. I hope everyone sees it. However, style-wise I felt the same kind of sinking feeling I get in so many issue docs these days – a kind of Inconvenient Truth slideshow malaise, where all cinematic feeling is lost. Honestly, though, I am at a loss to imagine how else he might have made this particular doc-as-indictment film, so I probably shouldn't complain too loudly. It's another one of those movies I hope other people watch, even though I feel it continues the trend of documentary-as-lecture that has been degrading the genre from the point of view of cinematic experience over the last decade or so. It was a film you could have playing in the living room while you make dinner in the kitchen without missing much.

Edited Sun 10 Apr 2011 by James Longley

Alessandro Gallo
Mon 11 Apr 2011Link

In reply to Ellen Brodsky's post on Sun 3 Apr 2011 :
Happy to hear this, i am pretty sure you gonna love this film.


James Longley
Mon 11 Apr 2011Link

In reply to James Longley's post on Sun 10 Apr 2011 :

By contrast, Armadillo was great. A very strong work of documentary cinema about foreign troops in Afghanistan, at last. I hope it gets a wide release.


Alessandro Gallo
Mon 11 Apr 2011Link

In reply to James Longley's post on Mon 11 Apr 2011 :
I absolutely agree with you, i saw it and i was quite impressed.


Doug Block
Mon 11 Apr 2011Link

I've rsvp'd for a preview screening of Armadillo this Wed night. Very eager to see it.


John Burgan
Mon 18 Apr 2011Link

Death by plastic? This powerful short film was recently produced and shot by D-Worder Riley Morton.

Edited Mon 18 Apr 2011 by John Burgan

Sahand Sahebdivani
Tue 19 Apr 2011Link

Thanks for making that Riley. Thanks for sharing it, John.


Barbara Rick
Wed 20 Apr 2011Link

Thoroughly enamored by the Bill Cunningham New York film. Best doc I have seen in a very long time.


Doug Block
Wed 20 Apr 2011Link

Been eager to see it. Where is it playing? I missed it at the Film Forum.


Barbara Rick
Wed 20 Apr 2011Link

It's now at IFC and City Cinemas East Village.. and a couple of other places. Really worth seeing in my book.


Christopher Wong
Thu 21 Apr 2011Link

In reply to James Longley's post on Sun 10 Apr 2011 :

i just watched INSIDE JOB, and i must say... yawwwwwnnnnn! i was really looking forward to it, but it was just so uncinematic and uninspiring. i suppose if one had their head in the sand for the past few years – or stuck in Pakistan/Iran – and had no knowledge of the financial crisis already, then it could have been educational. but having listened to This American Life's radio series on the crisis, and having read a whole bunch of newspaper articles on the same, it just did not add anything new.

i really think it is regrettable that an unimaginative doc like INSIDE JOB gets nominated for an oscar, but films like LAST TRAIN HOME and THE OATH get left behind.


James Longley
Thu 21 Apr 2011Link

Heh. You know, even when in Pakistan I still listen to TAL and Planet Money podcasts every week. I also went through several books on the subject, including the highly recommended The Big Short as well as The Black Swan and 13 Bankers and also The Quants just for fun. But still, even though I thought Inside Job was cinematically standard and even dullish, it was still a film I'm happy got made – and I know people who only really got their heads around the financial crisis after watching it. Not everybody is a public radio policy wonk. That said, I also wish that The Oath had been nominated.


Danielle Beverly
Thu 21 Apr 2011Link

The Oath is brilliant. Laura Poitras is fearless. So bummed she was not nominated.


John Burgan
Thu 21 Apr 2011Link

Here is what will probably be Tim Hertherington's last film (he just died while shooting a project in Libya). Harrowing and poignant.

Edited Sat 23 Apr 2011 by John Burgan

John Burgan
Sun 24 Apr 2011Link

Docalliance has a wide range of docs online (legally, unlike many portals), some to download at small cost or even free, others streamed:

From April 18 to May 2, you can watch five unique, multiply awarded documentary films by Polish director Marcel Łoziński for free. Enjoy the best of the past twenty years of a filmmaker who is “trying to influence the reality around him while following the outcome with openness”.


Christian Polli
Fri 6 May 2011Link

I don't know if any of you have seen Catfish, but it was really interesting. I watched it the other day and found it to be mildly creepy and I certainly did not expect the ending.


Jason Perdue
Fri 6 May 2011Link

I saw several great docs at SF Int'l this year, but the one I was moved enough to come here to post about it was BUCK, Audience winner at Sundance. I think it's getting a release soon. Don't miss it.


Marth Christensen
Sat 7 May 2011Link

SIFF is showing Buck June 8 (SIFF Cinema) and June 9 (Kirkland).


Jennifer Gli
Sun 8 May 2011Link

In reply to John Burgan's post on Sun 17 Apr 2011 :

Heart-breaking, but great work. Any plans to do a feature length doc on this subject?


John Burgan
Tue 10 May 2011Link

Academy-Award nominated filmmaker (and long time member of The D-Word) James Longley (IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS) has made his 2002 documentary GAZA STRIP available for free online in its entirety:

Edited Tue 10 May 2011 by John Burgan

Kurt Engfehr
Tue 17 May 2011Link

great little film about the Salton Sea and the strange community that used to surround it and what's left of it.


Jason Osder
Tue 17 May 2011Link

Working on a crash course with a motivated student, I noticed how many great docs are on Netflix streaming these days. Thought I'd share a sample here:

Harlan County USA
Last Train Home
Man on Wire
When We Were Kings
It Might Get Loud
The Oath
Marwencol


John Frisbie
Wed 25 May 2011Link

In reply to James Longley's post on Sun 10 Apr 2011 : I agree. It muckracks to the point that it glosses over some of the real story. but, too, i wonder how else it might have been done.


John Frisbie
Wed 25 May 2011Link

I tend to get on a high after seeing a great movie – but Last Train Home was a masterpiece.


Fiona Otway
Wed 25 May 2011Link

In reply to Kurt Engfehr's post on Tue 17 May 2011 :

Some gorgeous footage in there... I've seen several docs popping up about the Salton Sea lately... Here's one I'm eager to check out:


Marth Christensen
Thu 2 Jun 2011Link

Just finished "Genghis Blues", re: Paul Pena and Tuvan throatsinging (netflix). It is great! I swear I put it on my queue because of something I recently read here, but can't find the posting. I read Fyneman's "Tuva or Bust!" years ago. I'm sure I have the companion record somewhere around the house.


Marj Safinia
Thu 2 Jun 2011Link

It's one of my favs!


Jason Osder
Thu 2 Jun 2011Link

Yes!


Barbara Rick
Sun 12 Jun 2011Link

Thoroughly enjoyed Page One. Caught it recently at a special screening at a brunch event for Film Forum supporters. David Carr and Brian Stelter are brilliant. As a lifelong journalist, it thrilled me. Two of my favorite docs this year take place behind-the-scenes at The Times– this one and Bill Cunningham NY.


Danielle Beverly
Sun 12 Jun 2011Link

Barbara, the trailer reads like a fiction. The soundbites are phenomenal.


Barbara Rick
Sun 12 Jun 2011Link

Loved it, Danielle.


Kurt Engfehr
Tue 14 Jun 2011Link

here's a newfangled 'interactive documentary' supported by our good friends from the north, the NFB. it's a look at a small town in Canada that was closed! http://pinepoint.nfb.ca/#/pinepoint

it's part photo album, documentary and oral history. real interesting stuff.


Marth Christensen
Tue 14 Jun 2011Link

That is FASCINATING! Thanks.


Scheffee Wilson
Tue 14 Jun 2011Link

1. Capitalism: A Love Story
2.


Kate Imbach
Thu 16 Jun 2011Link

In reply to Kurt Engfehr's post on Tue 14 Jun 2011 :

how interesting! thanks for the rec!


Reid B. Kimball
Sat 18 Jun 2011Link

Hi everyone,

Not sure if I should ask here or somewhere else. I'm wondering if anyone knows of a "first person" documentary film? Meaning, the film is about a person but it is filmed from their perspective. For example, I'm the director, the film is about my story and I film everything from my view.

Edited Sat 18 Jun 2011 by Reid B. Kimball

Ramona Diaz
Sat 18 Jun 2011Link

There's a whole slew but a seminal work in this genre is Ross McElwee's Sherman's March.


Eliaichi Kimaro
Sun 19 Jun 2011Link

In reply to Reid B. Kimball's post on Sat 18 Jun 2011 :
Hi Reid, I know this isn't the place for self-promo, but in answer to your question, my film A Lot Like You is a first person doc...


Reid B. Kimball
Sun 19 Jun 2011Link

Yay! Thank you Ramona and Eliaichi, I will check both of these out today.


Ben Kempas
Sun 19 Jun 2011Link

Well, most of the films directed by D-Word founder Doug Block are first-person docs...


Jo-Anne Velin
Mon 20 Jun 2011Link

In reply to Reid B. Kimball's post on Sun 19 Jun 2011 :

Tarnation.


Nick Verbitsky
Wed 6 Jul 2011Link

My pick would be AMERICAN HARDCORE.

As a lifelong music freak (and former employee of WNEW-FM NYC, the world's GREATEST rock station ever) it moved me in ways no other film has. I always thought punk rock was noise, but this film really got me into the artistry of it, the characters involved, and after I watched it, I bought more songs on iTunes than I had in a long time by bands I never knew much about-Bad Brains, Dead Boys, Minor Threat, etc.

Most touching of all was the story of how Johnny Ramone stole Joey's girlfriend and married her-it was a scar the shy/sociall awkward Joey carried with him until he died-really showed that these artists are dimensional and above all, very human. I couldn't recommend this film more highly.....


John Gyovai
Tue 12 Jul 2011Link

Got to give it up to just a few of my favorite films with the word "Devil" in the title: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qtFPOxDMs4


John Gyovai
Tue 12 Jul 2011Link

Part II: The Devil's Miner
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqk-Scp6Lw8


Piers Sanderson
Wed 20 Jul 2011Link

I have just watched Danfung Dennis's 'Hell and BAck Again' – WOW! It raises the bar for camera and editing. In the recent glut of war docs this one really holds its own.


Sam Gaty
Thu 21 Jul 2011Link

I'll re-rec IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS and add a few others to the list:

THE GLEANERS AND I (Anges Varda)
F IS FOR FAKE (Orson Wells)
MONDO VINO (Jonathan Nossiter)
GASLAND (Josh Fox)
THE UP SERIES (Michael Apted)


kesang choki
Wed 31 Aug 2011Link

Hi Reid! i would recommend, "The Gleaners and I" and the "Queen and I"In reply to Reid B. Kimball's post on Sat 18 Jun 2011 :


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