Recommended Documentaries

Recommended Docs

  • Public

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...

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. Fans use our Public Classifieds, and Professionals have their own Shameless Self-Promotion topic.

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.

Ben Kempas
Pro

OK, we're trying a new one here. Which documentaries, new or not so new, would you recommend to a public audience, and why?

Some rules are posted above.

Ben Kempas
Pro

Let's try and start it this way:

Still looking speechless at the current events in Japan, what documentaries have you seen that deal with catastrophic events?

And given the world is debating nuclear power once more, which films would you recommend that deal with nuclear issues?

Or, if you want to mention something entirely different, feel free to do so any time.

Nick Higgins
Pro

Participant's COUNTDOWN TO ZERO chronicles the history of nuclear mishaps of which there are many. (disclaimer; I shot on this one)

Doug Block
Host

The War Game by Peter Watkin was an amazing documentary about the effects of a nuclear strike on Britain. I saw it in high school and it scared the living sh*t out of me.

But why start off by depressing everyone? The documentary that had the greatest impact and influence on me? Sherman's March by Ross McElwee.

enrico rossini cullen
Pro

I really loved SWEETGRASS and I would recommend it as a "food film" for people who don't like food films. Though the logline says it's about the last cowboys of the American West, it's also about tradition, environmental politics, and, yes, food – namely, lamb. Super entertaining, too. Like the Wolverine scene. Loved it. It's also very beautiful. For sound geeks, they make amazing use of remote lavs and other sound recordings – feels more like a field recording project sometimes.

Nina Gilden Seavey
Pro

The one film that sticks with me more than any other doc I've ever seen is CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS.

Nick Higgins
Pro

BARAKA; The holy grail of documentary cinematography imho

Marj Safinia
Host

American Movie is possibly my all time funniest doc choice ever, about obsessive moviemaking.

Marj Safinia
Host

Closely followed by the gem, Exit Through the Gift Shop, also about obsessive movie making, in a strange sort of way...

Marj Safinia
Host

And just to round out a trio of great films about obsessive movie making, don't forget Lost in La Mancha.

Summers Henderson
Pro

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.

Thomas Papapetros
Pro

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.

Ryan Ferguson
Pro

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.

Doug Block
Host

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.

Nick Higgins
Pro

LIFE AND DEBT is great if you want to see how the world really works for most of it's inhabitants

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