A historical curiosity rather than a great work, but fascinating nonetheless: painter Edvard Munch's home movies, shot in Spring 1927 on a Pathé-Baby with a 9,5 mm. film cassette
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.
This is not as self promotion, but for "friendship" promotions.
My good friend and former co-producer, Waise Azimi, made this interesting documentary a few years back. It's called STANDING UP and its about an Afghan military unit as they go through recruitment. (I don't want to give too much away).
It's been around in the festival circuit and finally got picked up by a distribution company.
If you want to see another perspective on war, catch STANDING UP!
Here is the official website: http://www.standingupthemovie.com/index.htm
You can purchase the DVD on Amazon.com:
According to several Indonesian environmental NGOs (REDD-Monitor and
WatchIndonesia) “Cari Hutan" might be the most informative, educative,
yet thrilling and amusing documentary ever made in Indonesia about the
subject of deforestation. “Cari Hutan” is, above all, a road movie
that takes the audience on an adventurous journey, by hitchhiking and boat, through
Kalimantan in search of the last remaining forests. The filmmaker looks into the issue of deforestation, its causes, its effects on the country and what we can do to improve the situation. Eventually it
follows the traces of destruction to Jakarta and Germany. Not only
locals, the inhabitants of the forests, farmers and loggers are being
interviewed, but also prominent journalists, scientist and most
importantly Prof. Bungaran Saragih, former Minister of Agriculture and
Forestry of Indonesia, who is responsible for a large part of the
I recently saw Gypsy Blood on TV in the UK and was incredibly happy to see this style of doc (no voice over and space between the scenes) on main stream TV with a prime-time slot of 10pm. The trailer makes it look like a doc on bare knuckle fighting. But this, i believe, was just a way to sell it to the masses as in fact it goes much deeper than that, in to a community and their values, as well as the relationship between father and sons. A first ever film, shot by photographer Leo Maguire on a Canon 5D it looks beautiful and i hope gets some festival showings as it deserves to be seen on a large screen.
The embed video would not take this URL for some reason –
Tribute to an almost entirely forgotten documentary filmmaker: Robert Vas came to London as a refugee from Hungary in 1956, to make over thirty films in the next twenty years, most of them for the BBC. This tribute made shortly after his death in 1978 is presented by fellow exile Karel Reisz (note that the film starts very quietly)
Full disclosure: a decade ago, I tried to make a film portrait of Vas with producer John Wyver, but we couldn't get anywhere with the BBC (a certain commissioning editor's explanation being "we're interested in the future not the past"); in the meantime, many of those who knew him have passed on themselves. Check out this entry on Vas, Robert who? on the excellent blog John maintains for his company Illuminations.
Just saw THE ACT OF KILLING at the Telluride Film Festival (its world premiere, I believe). I had to pick up my jaw off the floor after they turned on the lights at the end of the show. This has been one of the most talked about films of the festival and I can't wait to hear the broader doc community react to this one.....
Already heard amazing things about The Act of Killing. What else did you see there that you liked, Fiona?
In reply to Fiona Otway's post on Mon 3 Sep 2012 :
That's amazing. The only other doc treatment of the 65' massacres is in a multi-part Australian doc "Riding the Tiger", which used some B/W footage from the time. (BBC I think). My doc on the Indonesian Student movement of 98 used some BBC footage and interviewed some of the survivors and witnesses. I have a good friend in Indonesia, Lexy Rambedeta, who has also worked on this issue.
Watch Sean McAllister's films for free at Doc Alliance between Sept 10-16
Sean McAllister is a British documentary filmmaker who has brought stories from Israel, Iraq, Japan, and most recently Syria and Yemen. Sean's films portray people with characteristic intimacy and frankness, specifically in the film Japan: A Story of Love and Hate.
Watch the retrospective of a filmmaker who Michael Moore marks as "one of the most brave and powerful filmmakers around" for FREE from September 10 to 16
In reply to Fiona Otway's post on Mon 3 Sep 2012 :
A friend of mine just saw it at TIFF and was one of his favourite films. The other very intriguing doc at TIFF is Leviathan by Lucien Castaing-Taylor (Sweetgrass) and Véréna Paravel.. can't wait to watch those films.
In reply to Danielle Beverly's post on Tue 4 Sep 2012 :
I thought THE ACT OF KILLING was fascinating for its attentive form/content relationships, which raise lots of juicy questions about the representation of history (personal/social/political), propaganda, memory, truth, witnessing, power, violence, forgiveness, performance, transformation.... Some people in the audience were very suspicious of having been emotionally manipulated by the filmmaker, others had moral qualms with the premise of the film as well as the filmmaker giving voice to warlords (similar to critiques of REDEMPTION OF GENERAL BUTTNAKED, I think), and some were concerned about sensationalizing genocide. Personally, I think this is one of those films that leaves you with way more questions than answers – questions that you have to really ponder for a while and hopefully talk to others about too – and I loved it for that reason. There are so many layers for discussion in this film.... I really enjoyed hearing the director, Joshua Oppenheimer, speak about the film too – a very thoughtful guy.
In reply to Doug Block's post on Tue 4 Sep 2012 :
None of the other films I saw really affected me as strongly as THE ACT OF KILLING. But I also ended up seeing more fiction than documentary at this festival.
THE GATEKEEPERS was another very popular doc at the festival. It has some incredible historical significance, however in terms of form, it's a fairly conventional talking heads documentary. The motion graphics were very impressive immersive 3D recreations of archival photographs.
WADJDA was very charming. A simple story about a spunky Saudi Arabian girl who wants a bicycle. Well told and satisfying. First-ever film by a Saudi Arabian woman, they said.
GINGER AND ROSA was pretty and sweet. Made me want to see more of the director, Sally Potter's work. That said, I met a few people at the festival who walked out of this screening because they were bored and disappointed.
NO was a little too long, but interesting. Also deliberately plays with the relationship between form and content. I'm still thinking about it.
AMOUR won the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year. Most everyone I talked to loved this film, but I saw a short documentary on the same subject at Full Frame earlier this year, and I was way more moved by that.
Wish I could have seen STORIES WE TELL, WHAT IS THIS FILM CALLED LOVE, and PARADISE LOVE. I've been hearing great things.
Pablo, I'm also very eager to see LEVIATHAN!
I saw SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN last night in a regular commercial Regal movie theater with a Sony 4k projector. Wow, how nice to see a good doc on a great screen with great audio. So glad to see docs getting some decent venues lately.
Did a search here looking for more info on the Sundance audience winner and haven't seen anyone mention it, so thought I'd recommend it.
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN, by Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul, is a quest story. Some South African fans of 1970's Detroit musician 'Rodriguez', (bigger than Elvis and the Beatles in SA but in total obscurity in the US,) try to find out what happened to the "better than Dylan" voice that fueled revolt against apartheid. Well-told story that holds your attention and it has great music. Good production values. Not challenging, so ranks high in entertainment value.
Interesting to see how they put the story together with a slow reveal yet managed to keep it engaging. Great use of animation in some scenes.
The official trailer on YouTube is ad-ridden, so here's one with subtitles (movie is in English.)
that got good reviews here in Seattle – yet i didn't see it. sounds like you liked it pretty well, but wouldn't necessarily give it an "A"?
I think I wrote about this in the bar or the member's doc section.
I would give it an A. It is very well made and unexpected. I don't want to give away anything, so see it, then we can discuss.
"Searching For Sugarman" is a wonderful story. Sixto Rodriguez is almost like a bodhisattva – ok I won't give anything away.
I did wonder if the people who produced his earlier records really understood him. They put all this lush, syrupy instrumental sound under his very strong guitar & voice. I wonder if that is why the albums tanked in the U.S. His lyrics are still relevant.
In reply to Riley Morton's post on Mon 17 Sep 2012 :
Oh, I LOVED Searching for Sugarman. Great film. Definitely an A. When I said "not challenging," I meant that it doesn't beat you over the head with academic or intellectual highbrow-ness. Like most great stories, it's simple and lovely.
hi, im new here and a freelance filmmaker and cinematographer from germany...
nice community here and so i decidet to show you my documentaryteaser i done... i think the hole film is very interesting and some times probably controversal...
"Tarna" is a 40min. documentary film about "Lady Tarna", a extrem/scat domina from Berlin. I followed her one day with the camera, to show the everydays life of a domina, but also to show the person behind.
i shot the hole film alone in one day... this was the concept, beeing only one day with tarna and triying to make it as real as possibly...
hope you like the small teaser...
Chris, welcome to The D-Word, but please read the text at the top of this Page which makes it absolutely clear that posting your own work is not what this Topic is for.
As such, the link to your video has been removed. You are welcome to repost as suggested. Thanks.
hi john and sorry for this, i read it now on the top of this topic... sorry and greets
Just saw this short, Caine's Arcade, about a 9 year old boy who built a cardboad arcade in his dad's used car parts shop in Los Angeles. It is an amazing story, where a filmmaker was Caine's first customer and he was so impressed, he created a flash mob set of customers last October. The whole thing has really exploded, including a Cardboard Challenge for kids around the world, coming up on 6 October.
In reply to Marth Christensen's post on Tue 18 Sep 2012 :
isn't that piece just fantastic? didn't know about the 'cardboard challenge.' thats very cool.
Lovely to see a film about India in such a lighthearted way.
Please check it out x
Jake – this looks a lot of fun, but you have clearly not read the statement at the top of this page which makes it clear that this topic is not to showcase your own work. Feel free however to repost the link in the suggested topic.
This is a great short piece. I looked back and didn't see this posted, so I thought I would share. I especially like the end where Burns talks about his mother and how it relates to his film making. Fascinating stuff, and so true.
In reply to Jason Boone's post on Sat 13 Oct 2012 :
Yes, I loved that short piece about Ken Burns, especially when he mentions who he's "actually trying to wake up."
Landfill Harmonic is an upcoming feature-length documentary about a remarkable musical orchestra in Paraguay, where young musicians play instruments made from trash.
Request to have your documentary reviewed! http://timetogetsome.tumblr.com/
In reply to John Burgan's post on Sat 8 Dec 2012 :
Thanks for posting, John. Really want to see this. The moment where Bebi plays the Cello is amazing.
Wow. What about the brass instruments? Surely those aren't made from recycled parts??
Check out this New Yorker article by Richard Brody about Godard, Pennebaker & Leacock in the late 60's One P.M. All Day
In reply to Jason Boone's post on Sat 13 Oct 2012 :
For those of us who enjoy the work of Ken Burns, "City of Gold" was the film that deeply inspired him in his youth as to how still images could be fully incorporated into the documentary genre.
This film is what inspired Ken Burns to incorporate what came to be known as the "Ken Burns Effect" so extensively in his work.
Also available to view on the excellent National Film Board of Canada website
Nice moment at 5:13, the first instance of the "Ken Burns effect," it's a near-seamless dissolve from a live footage tilt-and-pan to a tilt-and-pan across a still.
Another nice KBE at 12:49, with a tilt-and-pan across the photo, before cutting to a wide shot of the full photo.
I agree Summers, it was a revelation to stumble across this pioneering film, which still has some of the finest examples of the technique I have seen. A real master class.
Those are two great exemplars you mentioned. And it's interesting how at 13:15 it's a jump cut to the wide shot in its entirety, which is done very well.
And John is correct. The entire catalogue of the National Film Board of Canada is really quite a treasure trove of free clinics with the masters.
That was really great- thanks for posting it. What a gem having that old guy nattering with his mates with a saw in his hand. I love the shooting that they did up there in 1958 and plan on channeling it.
I originally saw this in school and still feel that it is quite near perfection.
In reply to Jason Osder's post on Thu 7 Feb 2013 :
Also available here in a higher rez version.....
What a treasure trove. I enjoyed the switchman too. And this one about Paul Anka by the same guy that made City of Gold Wolf Koenig http://www.nfb.ca/film/lonely_boy
They are all shot so well, super solid and they hold their shots forever which has to be every editors dream and a great reminder to do the same.
another great NFB film, Corral by Colin Low
French legend Agnes Varda, streaming for free at Doc Alliance till February 17th...
I'm addicted to the Canadian National Film Board archive. Thanks for hooking me up. This one is a 15 minute gem that we watched with our daughter. Its about a family in canada with 12 kids....12 kids.......yikes!
BTW the NFB also has a free iPad/iPhone App which you can use to stream movies to your TV
I'm really inspired by the shooting in these older c1950/60's short films. They're shot so deliberately and they seem to hold their shots forever (the number one criticism from every documentary editor). I'm guessing part of the reason is that in the 50's the only folk that were commissioned to go out and shoot on film were the ones that had really done their time in the trenches. I'm lapping up Director/DP Wolf Koenigs work.
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
wow John, thanks so much for posting the "Landfill Harmonic" trailer. Incredibly inspiring.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
More great freebies from Doc Alliance – Dutch master Bert Haanstra
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
I have 10 favorite docs on my site. Not my Top 10, just docs that's worthy of checking out!
A classic short now made available online by the Criterion Collection, Alain Resnais' 1956 Toute la mémoire du monde
It's a film many here on The D-Word appreciate. Why would you recommend it?
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?
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.
Go watch it then what are you waiting for? Movies don't age like wine. They don't go bad either.
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”
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?
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...))
The Day After Trinity, about Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project, prod/dir Jon Else.
This sounds like fun: How two Iranian brothers created one of the world's first travel documentaries
"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).
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).
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/
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
In reply to Elizabeth Yoffe 's post on Tue 13 Aug 2013 :
Me too! Such a beautiful film!
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.
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/
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.
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.
More docs streaming for free on the excellent Doc Alliance site – the current offer includes the highly entertaining "Broadway Black Sea" by Vitaly Mansky
Krzysztof Kieslowski's second film Urzad / Office made when he was still at film school
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.
In reply to John Burgan's post on Thu 5 Dec 2013 :
the slate says that little doc was directed by Peter Wintonick.
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).
Film by Indian filmmaker Supriyo Sen on the curious rituals of the Wagah border ceremony
In reply to John Burgan's post on Thu 6 Feb 2014 :
Fascinating--thanks for posting that.