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.

Christopher Wong
Pro

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
Pro

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
Pro

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

John Burgan
Host

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
Fan

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
Pro

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.

John Burgan
Host

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:

Jason Osder
Pro

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
Pro

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

Marth Christensen
Pro

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.

Barbara Rick
Pro

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
Pro

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

Kurt Engfehr
Pro

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.

Reid B. Kimball
Pro

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.

Ramona Diaz
Pro

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

Reid B. Kimball
Pro

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

Ben Kempas
Pro

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

Nick Verbitsky
Pro

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.....

Piers Sanderson
Pro

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
Fan

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)

Ben Kempas
Pro

D-Worders may remember that we did a special topic two years ago on the controversy surrounding the release of Fredrik Gertten's film, BANANAS!*.

For those of you who (like me) didn't have a chance to see the film on the festival circuit, you can now watch it on Distrify – and finally make up your own minds.

Highly recommended!

Jo-Anne Velin
Pro

Congratulations to distrify for having Bananas on the platform (which is looking terrific, by the way – I always loved the triangles as their logo)!

Ben Kempas
Pro

It's more of a matter of Dogwoof partnering with Distrify for their entire online distribution. Fredrik didn't even know BANANAS!* was up there. :-)

I#m just wondering if the above rental works anywhere or whether it's been geo-blocked for UK availability only?

Eli Brown
Pro

I clicked on the rent and it put a "sign up for email notification for when it's available in your area" notice. So, I think it is geo-blocking...

Pablo Alvarez-Mesa
Pro

Yeah, I did too and that sign-up notice appeared and that made me not want to continue. I sort of tune off sites that ask for my emails for basic access.. was that just because of geo-blocking? or do users have to register to watch a film?

Ben Kempas
Pro

Eli – At the moment, it's even doing that here in the UK although Dogwoof is a UK distributor. I've emailed Peter to find out.

Pablo – What do you mean, "for basic access"? You need to register in order to make a purchase (VoD or DVD) or to access your previous VoD purchase. You don't need to register to watch the trailer.

Ben Kempas
Pro

Update: the bug is fixed, but the film may still not be available in all territories. (You might have to empty your cache before you try again.)

Pablo Alvarez-Mesa
Pro

In reply to Ben Kempas's post on Wed 21 Sep 2011 :

Fair enough.. I guess I just sort of expected to be directed to a page with a slot for a credit card number and then to the film in two simple steps. Its a great service, don't get me wrong... Thing is i just unconsciously seem to close pages that ask for email addresses up front..

John Burgan
Host

Glass is a 1958 Dutch short documentary film by director and producer Bert Haanstra. The film won the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject in 1959. (thanks to my former student Anna in Barcelona for sending this)

James Longley
Pro

It's great – where did I see this before?
Only I can't stand the sound of jazz vibraphone in film soundtracks. But the editing is pretty terrific.

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