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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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Ben Kempas
Wed 23 Mar 2011Link

Leacock's lessons...

Edited Wed 23 Mar 2011 by Ben Kempas

James Longley
Thu 24 Mar 2011Link

Jazz Dance. Just pure perfection.

Stephanie Vevers
Fri 25 Mar 2011Link

In reply to Erica Ginsberg's post on Sun 20 Mar 2011 :

Heddy Honigman website:

Maybe not her newer films but at least 3 other Heddy Honigmann films now available on Netflix: Dutch Junkies (2007), Forever (2006) and O Amor Natural (1996)
and as a DVD boxed set also:

Her facebook page: .

Meanwhile Icarus Films has 2 competing facebook pages for her, from their own angle.

Edited Fri 25 Mar 2011 by Stephanie Vevers

Pliers Sanderson
Sat 26 Mar 2011Link

I loved Pawel Pawlikowski's films Serbian Epics and Tripping with Zironophsky, shame that he only does fiction now. Here is a timecoded clip from a scene of Serbian Epics when Radovan Karadzic sees his mother

Edited Tue 29 Mar 2011 by John Burgan

Suree Towfighnia
Mon 28 Mar 2011Link

Straight, No Chaser. A beautiful Thelonuis Monk story with mostly "found" footage and Charlotte Zwerin as an editor. It's a true testament to the power of the edit to create something from discovered footage years later. Aside, from that, it's awesome to see inside the genius. Same with Charles Mingus, 1968...follows him through his eviction from his apartment/studio. Found it on vimeo

Edited Tue 29 Mar 2011 by John Burgan

John Burgan
Tue 29 Mar 2011Link

In reply to Ben Kempas's post on Wed 23 Mar 2011 :

Leacock's obituary and also a piece by filmmaker/scholar Brian Winston

Show hidden content

Tim VandeSteeg
Tue 29 Mar 2011Link

There are so many... FACING ALI & also love the ESPN Series 30 in 30, a collection of sport documentaries.

Docs Rock!

John Burgan
Tue 29 Mar 2011Link

Here's a link to the ESPN series Tim (those of us outside the US won't necessarily know ESPN)

Nadia Awad
Wed 30 Mar 2011Link

I have NOT seen this doc, but am so blown away by the scene select and the process that I thought I would share. This is The Arbor by Clio Barnard. She created the film out of audio interviews which actors then lip-synched to, verbatim, while acting. It is supposed to screen in NYC sometime this month and am definitely going.

Edited Wed 30 Mar 2011 by Nadia Awad

Doug Block
Wed 30 Mar 2011Link

Agree, Nadia. Looks fascinating.

Alessandro Gallo
Thu 31 Mar 2011Link

I loved
for cinematography and characters.

Jason Perdue
Fri 1 Apr 2011Link

I was just about to post about The Arbor in Doc Films. It's playing at SF Int'l later this month. Can't wait to see it.

And thanks for the recommend on Kinshasa Symphony as it's playing close by next weekend and I wasn't planning to see it.

Edited Fri 1 Apr 2011 by Jason Perdue

Papagena Robbins
Sat 2 Apr 2011Link

I recently saw Brian Winston speak in support of a (very expensive) documentary on Robert Flaherty, ‘A Boatload of Wild Irishmen,’ for which he wrote the script. There is a little interview with Leacock in the film where he talks about working as Flaherty's cameraman on "Louisiana Story." Leacock's career was a truly expansive one.

Here's a link to Leacock's recollection of this experience of working with Flaherty from his website:


Jason Perdue
Sat 2 Apr 2011Link

Hi Poppy. Glad to see you here.

Ellen Brodsky
Sun 3 Apr 2011Link

In reply to Alessandro Gallo's post on Thu 31 Mar 2011 : Thanks for letting me know about the Kinshasa Film. I lived in the Congo for 2 yrs (85-87) and have just now put my name on the waiting list for the DVD. It looks incredible.

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

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.

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